To coincide with the release on the 30th March of acclaimed film maker Werner Herzog’s new documentary, Into The Abyss | A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life, an art exhibition opens for a mere 5 days at Protein Gallery. Herzog’s film, which examines the death penalty through humanistic portraits, is acting as an inspiration for the show which gathers a group of artists – Alex Shepherd, Theo Turpin, Margarita Louca, Alison Moffett, Susu Laroche, Laurel Schwulst – showing work that has a unique perspective on its themes.

Nestled at the end of Hewitt Street in Shoreditch, Protein Gallery doesn’t look like much from the outside, and once inside, the space doesn’t exactly open up around you. None of this matters though, as the artwork fills the space with raw intensity, which is only added to by the size of its surroundings.

Walking through the front door you are greeted by a pile of black latex balls in the corner, each wrapped in its own clear PVC cube. The piece is by Alex Shepherd and it’s called Suspended Exhalation, a feeling which inexplicably comes over you as you contemplate it. The entire gallery echoes with heavy bass tones and ambience coming from Margarita Louca’s audio/visual piece #1218(30), made up of detail shots of a man’s body, such as his fingers and shoulder blades. The seemingly unassuming footage begins to gnaw at you after a moment, you feel that there is sorrow within this story, even though there is nothing obviously sad being shown on the screen. Whether intentional or not, the sounds coming from Louca’s part in the show add power to every other piece. The figures in Susu Laroche’s piece Cambion almost seem as if they can hear and feel the bass-y tones and are trying to escape from their frame and the noise.

The curators, MASS (Jessica Bernard, Esther Theaker) have done an amazing job bringing together pieces that capture the same strong and sorrowful emotions without intruding on each other. From Allison Moffett’s grayscale drawing of a dam to Theo Turpin’s thought-provoking presentation of the Myth of Orpheus, each drawing on the wall adds strength to its peers.

Into The Abyss
30th March – 3rd April 2012
18 Hewett Street
London EC2A 3NN

Words by Oskar Lindblom

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Alex Shepherd, Alison Moffett, Laurel Schwulst, Margarita Louca, MASS, Oskar Lindblom, Protein, Susu Laroche, Theo Turpin, Werner Herzog,