Solo show 2010;
installation view at Grimmuseum, Berlin; Whistle! Minotaure curated by
Francesco Cavaliere & Marcel Türkowsky
Dungeons and Dregs is an exhibition/performance event that was held at the Grimmuseum over the course of a week. Entirely centered on the story of the Black Cobras, an imaginary street gang, the exhibition is the result of fieldwork carried out in Berlin. A long search turned up an old shop selling Black Cobras, a novelty item from the ’70s — half magic trick, half firework — consisting in a small grey cylinder that spits out a ‘snake’ of ashes when lit. The exhibition is conceived as a step-by-step journey through time (or perhaps a game) and starts in a dim, bare room where a spotlight is pointed at a trapdoor in the floor leading to the museum basement; in the cellar, one finds a video projection showing two near-identical versions of Dungeons and Dregs (different only in the voiceover: the musician Michael Northam is featured in one, and his brother, speaking from Montana via Skype, in the other). The video tells the gang’s story through the places it inhabits, along with the various methods its members use to communicate with other galaxies (they also venerate Bob, a sort of spiritual leader). In the next room, we hear an audio recording of a musical session (involving the musicians Benjamin Altermatt, Francesco Cavaliere, Christopher Kline, Felicity Mangan, Michael Northam and Marcel Türkowsky), and are led to the last space, accessible only via a ladder and only up to the waist. On the night of the opening, in the room whose floor is covered in reflective aluminum, Benjamin Altermatt and Francesco Cavaliere burn black cobras for three hours. The cinder snakes remain there as an installation for the rest of the exhibition. For the closing day, two works are added on the ground floor: a video projection of two fireballs flying over a lake — a scene from Mystics in Bali, a 1981 Indonesian horror movie directed by H. Tjut Djalil — and a fake burnt wood panel on which we find the full voiceover from the video projected in the basement. Dungeons and Dregs sums up Invernomuto’s primary obsessions: games, the idea of a journey, sound, the shift between reality, representation and imagination, urban and suburban ritual, the inherent magic of the media, the relationship between what lies above and what lies below, culture and subculture.