Alfie Strong’s first solo exhibition in London explores melancholic humour within the everyday and the mundane. Presenting a new series of works within a site-responsive installation, the exhibition employs mythology in search of transcendental and emotional meaning within basic elements of our day-to-day lives.
The title ‘Beyond the Pylon of the Pit’ is taken from the fifth chapter of the abstract work ‘Nightside of Eden’. One of nine books making up three trilogies called the ‘Typhonian Trilogies; by the widely maligned occultist writer Kenneth Grant. The book talks about the ‘reverse’ and the effects of its evil (qlipothic) energies on the tree of life. Strong describes the work as either an “Atavastic Breakthrough” or “Psychotic Breakdown”; he describes a feeling of “being wrapped up in the language and scenery and desperate for a sense of relatability”. It is the combination of this extensive knowledge of mysticism and vivid imagination that the artist draws upon in this new body of work.
Strong uses aesthetics of horror and science fiction genres to create a series of large silk tapestries in muted greens, purples and greys. These hang alongside Aran knit fisherman jumpers and papier machache structures. The process of installing these elements aims to produce an over-theatrical, paranoid, unhinged, and macabre display; Observed as a non-authoritative and sensory, sequentially dispersed narrative. He extracts areas of mythology, magic and folklore, combining them with things that are current cultural problems – such as government failures, raising water levels, capitalist acceleration, marginalisation of minority groups, nuclear unrest, oppression of the disadvantaged.
Strong explores ideas that speculate on the future of our planet with inherent gloom. Yet from this hopelessness, pop-nihilism, social resignation and a slow sardonic cancellation of the future is born. This is a narrative that runs through the work, and is home to some key characters, places and tools from exploration into the Arcane.
Fabrication and materiality are key to Strong’s work, with the performativity of assemblage running parallel to the themes of disarray within the work. As explored in Kenneth Grants writing, the works act as a dark “mirror image” or a “Universe B”, a “non-existent” reality underlying our normal Universe A.
Using VITRINE as a tableau in which the works can place themselves, Strong reimagines the gallery as an abyss, the bottom of a large lake or unfathomable expansive nothing. This melancholic metaphor centres itself in each element of the installation and will wistfully reside in this abyss like floating chattering matter.