Wednesday, August 20, 2014
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Little Berlin Gallery's striking pop-culture exhibit

Plato's Porno Cave takes large philosophical ideas and examines them through a kitsch pop-culture lens. Above all, it pushes viewers to embrace the hypothetical.

Little Berlin Gallery's striking pop-culture exhibit

TV Pyramid at Little Berlin
TV Pyramid at Little Berlin

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.

But don’t let the sensory overload fool you. Giving rocks monetary value may seem ridiculous, but like the Allegory of the Cave, Plato’s Porno Cave has layers of meaning. The rocks were used to explore what makes an economy and imitates how money is treated in our modern society. “Our politicians have been dealing with the economy like it’s a game,“ says Augustus Depenbrock, the co-curator of Plato’s Porno Cave, so we decided to create our own economy and toyed with it in games.” The rocks were one of many ways that Plato’s Porno Cave is taking large ideas and questions and translating them into something tangible and creative.

The beauty of this show lies in its ability to mix opposing aspects of culture. Depenbrock, mentions the film Weird Science as an influence for the opening night’s Rabble-Rousers rebellious ‘rival city’ entrance, saying, “That’s what Plato’s Porno Cave is all about: taking this high-brow philosophy and cramming it right next to a low-brow, mass media, popular movie.” 

Throughout the month Little Berlin will be hosting different film and theatrical events for the exhibition. Regardless of the event, Plato’s Porno Cave: The New World, is guaranteed to be a surprising deviation from your run of the mill gallery experience. For event information and scheduling, head over to Little Berlin’s website.

Little Berlin
Boston St. at Coral St.
2430 Coral St.

Amanda V. Wagner Art Attack
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Art Attack is a partnership with Drexel University and is supported by a grant from the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge, administered by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

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