contemporary art

Andrew Kötting with Anonymous Bosch, Underland: Beyond the Mounting Fear (2013)

May 18, 2013

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This show may be just a hidden outpost of a relatively obscure art festival on the South Coast. But London policewoman Marta Zawistowska has reportedly been twice already.

In many ways this show is for her, from the cases full of postcards, to the photos and videos, and the shredded clothes and motorbike leathers on the walls.

Zawistowska is the everyday hero who scooped Kötting off a busy London road, staunched the bleeding in his leg and saved his life.

It was the day before the artist was due to fly to the Pyrenees with Anonymous Bosch in order to make the photographs which would have gone in this show.

Kötting and Bosch were due to project images within a remote cave and photograph the results with pinhole camera. The cave was in Fear Mountain (Montagne de la Frau).

In the event, the majority of images are blurry shots through a pinhole in a hospital room with a leg so scarred you can still see the broad stitches.

But the duo did make it to a cave, albeit one nearby. A friend in Hastings has access to a smuggler’s passage through an arch in their home.

What can you say about such luck, good and bad? Like a pair of neolithic artists, the duo were really determined to get into the Underland.

Plato had some relevant ideas about caves. But he wasn’t prepared for a laptop and projector. He wasn’t even prepared for the pinhole camera. 

The ward soon became a Platonic cave with Kötting as its prisoner and Bosch as the philosopher who, with help of camera, interprets the shadows.

But the drama revolves around the crash, rather than the cave. The artist cheated death and, at the press view, still had the scar to prove it.

For me, this baring of wounds calls to mind Coriolanus. Shakespeare’s general is encouraged to show his scars to the masses and restore order.

He plays them down as: Scratches with briers/Scars to move laughter only. But pride is his downfall. He certainly wouldn’t have got arts funding.

Scars remain a great way to inspire pity and awe. When done with artistry, and dedication to a life saver, there is nothing wrong with showing them off.

Underland is part of HOUSE 2013, a festival of art in Brighton until May 26, see housefestival.org for directions and further details.

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