With only the shadows on the wall to keep them company, the characters in Plato’s Allegory of a Cave believe reality to be the forms and figures projected by a fire behind them. This classic tale teaches us about the conditioning of ideas, and illustrates the limiting nature of perspective and the material world. It’s a big idea, but at some point, everyone has felt like they have been chained to the walls of a cave, and are only familiar with what is in front of them.
Releasing its audiences from the conventional gallery experience, the current exhibition at Kensington’s Little Berlin Gallery uses ideas from Plato’s Republic to explore the evolution of a new world outside of the familiar. Plato’s Porno Cave: The New World fuses ancient and modern cultures and is influenced by the works of both Plato and, the Mayan Popol Vuh creationist text. The idea arose from a series of “what if’s.” What if the world ended with the Mayan calendar, what if humanity had to recreate society?
Some of the works featured in Plato’s Porno Cave do, as you may have guessed, channel pornographic themes — such as Matt Fraatz’s glitch porn TV instillation and Kelsy Bohlinger’s entrance mural which serves as a birth canal into the “new world.” “Porn has this interactive quality, you can’t help but to have a reaction to it,“ says Marshall James Kavanaugh, one of the shows curators and contributing artists. “We wanted to create an involved experience, people are used to walking into a gallery, grabbing a glass of wine, looking at a painting, looking at another painting, and then leaving. This exhibition is more about what’s going to happen next,” says Kavanaugh.
At the exhibition’s March 2, opening night, “what happened next” was always a surprise. The Mummer’s group, Rabble-Rousers road into the space on motorcycles, absurdist performers from Puppetyranny troupe delighted audiences with whipped cream and wine in utter dispensers, and The Seer of Hands traded spray painted “sacred” rocks for reiki and tarot card readings.