Bit like Jim Morrison’s vomit
A first kiss, a birthday party, a road trip, perfect sunny days, best friends, over-cast Sundays, a funeral. All of these are memories that can be brought to life again by music. With the ability to instantly conjure up seemingly lost memories, from the great to the truly terrible, music has a hold on our lives.
We will probably never meet our musical heroes, but through their words we often develop a deep personal connection to them. So when a band parts ways or an artist dies, it can be devastating. For most it is enough to sing a line or play a favourite tune. But the true fans embark on great pilgrimages to benches, recording studios, road-crossings and graves.
A new exhibition from artist Graham Dolphin explores this bond we have with musicians and their deaths.
As you enter the gallery, you are confronted by gently parted gates, a piece entitled ‘Gate 2011’. The piece originally commissioned for Latitude, an English music festival, takes on a very different presence in the new space, swapping the attention of pissed-up festival-goers for pensive gallery-goers dressed in obligatory black.
It is Dolphin’s own tribute to Nick Drake, a 1970s musician who found his audience only after he had died at the age of 26. The hand-made gates are a replica of those at the church entrance of Drake’s resting place and are strewn with real messages left by fans there.
The detail is impressive: a sticker of a silver star, a cobweb, bird droppings (tippex), rusty drawing pins and old tape. Dolphin agonises over every detail, ensuring nothing looks out of place, and the illusion of authenticity survives. Every scrawl appears as though it was left by a different hand.
In the process of adding the words, Dolphin revealed how he enjoyed constructing each letter. Lost in the detail of each one meant he would only contemplate the deeply personal nature of the tributes upon drawing back to see the whole note.
Hanging on the walls, Last View is a collection of graphite sketches of grey skies with looming impersonal transient clouds, which depict the final moments of deceased musicians. In one, the back window of a Cadillac, with streaks of rain cascading down the glass and storm clouds, is the imagined final glimpse of the world for the late American country singer Hank Williams.
And then there is ‘Door’, faithful recreations of the door leading to Kaftwerk’s secretive Kling Klang studio (“This is the closest I’ll get to a painting,” Dolphin told InOut), and also of the door featured in Joy Division’s ‘Love will tear us apart’ music video.
The final piece is ‘Sun Moon Sun’. Two large TVs sit in the middle of the room displaying moving screensavers of the musicians Sun-Ra and Moondog. To experience it all, you must circle the room underneath the speakers, which simultaneously play their music.
With no notes provided by the gallery, you may struggle to find any meaning in the pieces –especially the doors which, without context, could have been liberated from a skip.
If you’re passing by and have an extensive, almost pretentious level of music knowledge, then it’s worth a look.
Graham Dolphin: View
David Risley Gallery, Bredgade 65, Cph K;
Started Sep 1, ends Oct 6;
Open Wed-Fri 12:00-17:00, Sat 11:00-15:00; free adm;