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Kate Dunn

Il Tabernacolo

1 October - 18 December 2021
A plus A Gallery, Venice

TJ Boulting is delighted to present our first exhibition in Venice made in collaboration with A+A gallery. This will see the two galleries host each other’s exhibitions, with A+A exhibiting at TJ Boulting in London in 2022. For this first collaboration, TJ Boulting will present a solo show of British artist Kate Dunn, which was shown in June at the gallery in London, and will present some new works made especially for Venice.

The Tabernacle invites you to experience the travelling tent of wandering, with a multi-sensory painting installation, through the lens of gabber music’s ‘pharmakon’. The tabernacle was a tent made by Moses in ancient times, built under the premise of being God’s dwelling on Earth; the tent was omnipotent, well known for its potential to emancipate or destroy. Gabber music began in Rotterdam in the early 90s and was quickly adopted by hardcore ravers in Thatcher’s Britain, it is characterized by its relentlessly fast, loud and distorted sound. It creates an environment in which the audience becomes one collective body, worshipping not the DJ but the experience itself. In her first work created in lockdown in the summer of 2020, Skin of Light, Kate looked at our attempts to reach ‘ascension’. This new work with gabber however, attempts a cataclysmic return to the body.


Using UV reactive pigments, that also respond to rave culture, Kate has created paintings that exist in three stages within the installation – under normal gallery light, then UV light and finally darkness. Under UV light the pigments charge, absorbing and reflecting light and becoming their own light source, which they then emit in darkness, adjusting the opticality of the painting. The pigment acts as a living organism, reflecting back at us our own cyclical nature. ‘I liked the idea of these works taking us from day to night, especially as they’re essentially built around an unexpected gaping hole that lockdown created in me: the ‘party-shaped’ hole. I’d listen to music in my room, on my walks, and immediately be in a dark room, sweaty bodies surrounding me. As I dug further into my research I discovered the term ‘collective effervescence’, describing how communal spaces such as churches, protests and raves intensify our experience of union to the point of electrifying the quasi-religious experience.’


Referencing the altarpiece, Kate uses the Gothic arch as a structure in which to experience the figural gesture. ‘Making my work is a bodily act, even before the painting there is the cutting, sanding and priming of the panels. But more essential to the process is that when painting I am trying to engage from the body as opposed to the mind.’ Kate’s use of the arch began in response her training in Florence where the Romanesque arch appeared everywhere. However in time the arch has become symbolic of many things, including iconography, the Renaissance and sacred space. Space is an integral part of The Tabernacle, centering as it does on a tent, historically a communal and impermanent space. ‘Pharmakon’ is defined as the poison and/or the remedy, The Tabernacle conceptualises this in two formats: through the bodies, and the spaces that we were forced to inhabit during lockdown.  During this time we all became acutely aware of the destructive potential of spaces; it was no longer the tabernacle, but our bedrooms and kitchens that could emancipate or destroy us, the only way out – a final return to the body.


“When I initially made the work for The Tabernacle I was still hyped for the time I’d be able to go out, get sweaty and party again. But as lockdown eased in London and my show opened, I discovered that I wasn’t ready. Handed all that I had fantasised about, I could not take it. I thought I was up for being the guinea pig, but my heart sped at the image of the dance floor, now a breeding ground. The new paintings for Venice are about the parties missed, the longing to be ready and the time it will take to get there. Using the framework of the Gothic arch, they steal tracery from Venetian Gothic architecture, such as the serpentine ogee arch and the quatrefoil. The paintings reflect the ache to be part of a collective body, and the push for the intensity of being in my own body to be enough.”


The performance is seven minutes long and involves fantastically loud music by Shoobz Darg.