Critics’ Picks

Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Progress Report from the Strategic Sanctuary for the Destruction of Free Will, 2016, color, sound, length to be determined.


Pil and Galia Kollectiv

Pump House Gallery
Battersea Park
February 24–April 3, 2016

Reflecting their research into R.D. Laing’s anti-psychiatry movement, the latest work by the London-based Israeli duo Pil and Galia Kollectiv, titled Progress Report from the Strategic Sanctuary for the Destruction of Free Will, 2016, is an exhibition and ongoing piece. On the ground floor, a monitor screens scenes from a film being made—on the day I visited the gallery, I watched performers dressed in neo-futuristic costumes of white cardboard outlined in black, re-enacting the jerky, robotic movements taken from video footage of patients undergoing psychedelic counseling and other forms of radical psychotherapy treatment.

The cardboard setting and props seen in the video are found on the upper floors of the gallery, where yet more filming will take place periodically throughout the exhibition’s duration. The final cut will be screened on the last day of the show. It feels a bit like entering the space of a 1920s Expressionist film set—stay there long enough and claustrophobia begins to set in (many of the walls have been covered in white cardboard as well, narrowing the already-narrow rooms even further). On the topmost floor, the effect is heightened by the blaring of a sound collage featuring recordings from the 1950s and ‘60s of people recalling their drug experiences, including, most memorably, a young woman relaying her conversation with a hot dog, which begged not to be eaten, because it had a wife and seven kids.

Lying at the core of this immersive project is the suggestion that the use of prescription and illegal drugs for medicative purposes ultimately results in a regulation of the relationship between mind, body, employment, and profit. It will be worth visiting Pil and Galia Kollectiv’s piece several times, especially at the closing, to see where it will all end up.