Background

This way of conceiving fundamental associations is also helpful in considering how Kötting, yoking together what might seem disparate strains - inflations in 65 significant familial and thematically charged locations, treated ‘found’ pornography and the textual contributions - seeks to test the limits and tensions in his source material, whatever its scale (the fact that he finds or places himself, actually or digitally, in this material provides a crucial ‘embodiment’ of the point to be made). Indeed, it might at first appear that the opposite of the Faroes (the most geographically removed site) is the wardrobe where his father’s ‘glamour’ magazines were found, or that the counterpoint to Mexico’s Day of the Dead (exotic ritual of a major moment) is a 1970s three-piece suite.

Instead, examination reveals that such seeming oppositions, such measurements of his project’s parameters, are much closer than first appears. It is in this proximity that the lasting and wider resonance of this autobiographical installation lies. For, at its heart, In the Wake of a Deadad looks to investigate, and ultimately to celebrate, whatever its emotional fallout or legacy, the power of aura (what we might call the Narnia wardrobe charge), the potency of certain people and things and their impact on others and, by association, the remarkable fact of being alive, of being sensually perceptive, in the phenomenal world.
Indeed, this fecundity of attraction extends throughout the territories, so that the project also becames a retrospective visitation of countries and regions essential and newly essential to Kötting, from Britain and southern France to Madagascar, Mexico (in his relationship to death, he has always been Mexican) and now, through the discovery of unknown, extended family histories, the Faroe islands.

Whether it is the map’s edge, the Ultima Thule, the visceral, even fearful thrill of encountering previously unknown co-ordinates and islands, or the similar intimation of overwhelming vistas that open to an adolescent male on first viewing (and never forgetting) the iconic promise of the sexual as captured in the permanent imminence of pornography, and especially the anticipation within its thin narratives, what works in common is the profound charge all afford. Offering a kind of Blakean immersion in the physical moment of viewing, the heightened materiality of the ostensible subject (here realised via the devices of larger-than-life inflation and découpage) and in the often emotive writings of colleagues, family and friends, the work seeks to collapse the distance between these apparently challenged elements to reveal a single intensity that flows möbius-like between all components in the puzzle, one revealed (à la ‘Magic Eye’ patterning) by a concentration of looking, an appreciation that seeks revelation and connection.

The fact that such aims are realised simultaneously in conceptual, organisational, aesthetic, material and thematic ways makes In the Wake of a Deadad a genuinely rewarding and stimulating initiative. An ambitious experiment in creating prismatic auto/biography, it exhorts its audience to make incursions into their own multihued psychologies and (family) histories; to live inside a death so rigorously that it becomes the vessel of a keener future. In doing this, it follows less in the wake of the gone protagonist; rather it generates its own passage forward into fresh, deep waters, and the wake it offers is not a following but a call out of stupor and into vivid appreciation of the moment now. Of all the living still there to be done.

Gareth Evans

The cause of death is not disease but birth
Buddha

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