Cefalu Exhibits in Copenhagen

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A review in frieze.com of Joachim Koester’s exhibition at the Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen, Denmark, includes the following:

The five colour photographs that make up one half of ‘Morning of the Magicians’ (2005) look rather overexposed; the five black and white ones less so; the effect is as if the branches of the bushes surrounding the decaying Mediterranean house shown in the photographs were growing into the gallery space and scratching my eyes. Joachim Koester’s ten photographs depict the villa’s exterior and interior. In one of them the following words can be seen, scribbled onto a wall: ‘Stab your demoniac Smile to my brain Soak me in Cognac and Cocaine!’


A three-page text by the artist accompanying the photographs tells how, in 1920, Aleister Crowley and his group of druggy, sexually experimental followers turned this Sicilian house into an ‘abbey’ for their occult practices. In addition to the Crowley story, the text is also informative about the modern history of occultism in general, and about others who, before Koester, had taken an interest in this house, such as the American sexologist Alfred Charles Kinsey. If you had read about this place in your own ‘experimental’ days, seeing it now, maybe for the first time, might arouse some excitement – except that the austerity of the images militates against any emotion. They are ‘objective’, like forensic photographs of a crime scene – but without a crime. Visit http://www.frieze.com/review_single.asp?r=2445 for the full review by Staffan Boije af Gennäs.

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