Gothic Revival by David Panos
Dates: 23 November 2023 – 20 January 2024
Location: NN Contemporary Art temporary space at Vulcan Works, Unit 9 (access via Fetter St), Northampton NN1 1EW
Commissioned for Sensing Place, NN Contemporary Art, 2023
NN Contemporary Art is pleased to present Gothic Revival, a new audio-visual commission by Jarman Award-winning artist, David Panos. Part film, part musical score, Gothic Revival is a poetic exploration of place; a cinematic tapestry that interweaves digitally manipulated footage with film, sound recordings and fragments of video collected in Northampton.
The artist’s process began through exploring the connections between Northampton’s Gothic Revival architecture and the legacy of its post-punk music scene, which birthed the band Bauhaus, credited with initiating the ‘gothic rock’ music genre. Seeking to explore the descendents of such an ‘alternative scene’, the film documents local band Raven Rust, whose rehearsal of Bauhaus’ most famous track, Bela Lugosi’s Dead, recurs across the piece, almost as a modern act of establishing tradition through repetition.
Panos engages with the town’s often overlooked voices, seeking to understand the complex dynamics of identity, tradition, and meaning in such contexts. He contrasts DIY scenes like the remnants of the alternative/gothic subculture with archaic, institutional structures, exemplified by a choir rehearsing at Northampton’s All Saints Church. The work contrasts these two very different musical spaces – however a paradox unfolds where modern, socially liberal ‘alternative’ signifiers and pre-modern religious structures can both be evoked by ‘gothic’ forms.
The commision was an opportunity for the artist to engage with the concept of the British town in contrast to a London-centric artworld; Northampton in its historical specificity but also as the site as emblematic of contemporary regional Britain. Gothic Revival resonates with Northampton as a fractured microcosm of the challenges faced by small towns and communities in post-Covid, Brexit England; the assemblage of sound and image unraveling the complexities of a society grappling with a crisis of meaning. It raises questions about the preservation of cultural traditions, the decline of communal spaces, and the clash between progressive and conservative values, and different attempts to create spaces that do not conform to market-driven rationality. The film questions whether cultural formations like Christianity or ‘gothic/alternative culture’ still resonate with the contemporary world and secretly hints at the possibilities of new ‘post-romantic’ forms that might offer us some escape from the impasse of the present. Gothic Revival is a poetic meditation on the way that historical imagery can lead to very different cultural expressions, as well as a piece about how music, even though it might speak of another time, can open up a space of transcendence.
Commissioned in the run-up to the opening of 24 Guildhall Road, Northampton’s major new capital project – a five-storey cultural hub with multimedia galleries, artist studios and a civic reading room, set to open to the public in 2024 – Gothic Revival will be presented as the final installment in Sensing Place, the gallery’s year-long contemporary art programme that explores connections between individuals and the environments that we share.
About David Panos
David Panos is a London-based artist who produces videos, objects and music. In 2011, he was joint-winner of the Film Londo Jarman Award alongside collaborator Anja Kirschner,. His solo practice uses contemporary moving image technologies, sound, choreography, improvisation and object making to represent the ways our culture is dominated by the abstractions of financialisation and digital mediation. Since 2018, he has been the co-founder (with Artist Matthew Noel-Tod) of Conditions, a low-cost studio programme offering an alternative to conventional art education. He is represented by Hollybush Gardens.
Solo shows include: Pump House Gallery, London, 2017, Albert Baronian, Brussels, 2015, Liste, Basel 2014, ICA, London 2014, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, 2013; Secession, Vienna, 2012; Artist Space, New York, 2012; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Stuttgart, 2011; Kunsthall Oslo, Oslo, 2011. Selected group shows: Nemocentric, Galerie Charim Vienna, 2016, Whose Subject am I?, Kunstverein Dusseldorf, 2014, Acting Truthfully Under the Circumstances, Tenderpixel, London, 2014, Metal: AV Festival 14, 2014, The Magic of the State, Lisson Gallery, London 2013; Liverpool Biennial, 2012 and British Art Show 7.
How to find the venue
The event will take place in NNCA’s temporary Project Space, located in Unit 9, Fetter Street, Vulcan Works, Northampton.
Opening times are 11am – 5pm, Wednesday to Saturday.
Please note the installation will be closed between 22nd December 2023 and 13th January 2024.