Critics’ Picks

View of “Joachim Koester and E. B. Itso,” 2015.

View of “Joachim Koester and E. B. Itso,” 2015.

Copenhagen

Joachim Koester and E.B. Itso

Galleri Nicolai Wallner
Glentevej 47 - 49
March 6–April 18, 2015


Joachim Koester’s exhibition is a meditative yet visceral exploration of that ambiguous distance between the banal and mysterious, through photographs, videos, and installations. This show is named after a concept from the work of Wilhelm Reich and refers to the history and potential embedded in every bodily expression. This is visualized most tangibly in the short video The Place of Dead Roads, 2013, inspired by a William S. Burroughs western novel. In the video, four modern cowboys partake in spasmodic shoot-outs with invisible enemies. The action takes place within a dusty, boarded-up interior, which is powerfully re-created in the gallery as an eerily lit, secret space that can only be reached by entering a two-story wooden shack seamlessly attached to a gallery wall. Koester’s probing of the possibilities of the overlooked, whether it be an ordinary physical gesture or an abandoned site, also creates a symbiotic dialogue with fellow Danish artist E. B. Itso’s work, which focuses on peripheral spaces and the borderlines of polite society.

Itso’s parallel show considers criminal subculture and its attendant elements of surveillance and secrecy. Carl August Lorentzen’s Escape, 2014, for instance, is a grainy 1950s Danish police video that meticulously reconstructs a prisoner’s escape plan, playing on a small television in a tiny, cell-like space. Cardboard boxes are unassumingly scattered in the next gallery, of the exact size that inmates once used to try to ship themselves out of jail, but the link to a criminal underworld is initially masked by their formal ubiquity, just as one has to take the time to notice that the shack that sits behind the boxes—Itso’s Untitled (Hut), 2015—is an entrance to Koester’s mysterious otherworld.