A wall of posters first greets you as you enter the new Benedict Drew: KAPUT exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery; emblazoned with slogans and graffiti of the Virgin Galactica space programme; ‘The Grand Tour’ and ‘The Enlightenment’.
It’s an interesting mix, which at first appears abstract but the meaning becomes increasingly clear. Through using a mixture of sculpture, video and audio, Drew creates a provocative take on the influence of wealth and capitalism in modern society.
The themes of the exhibition appear to be embodied by Richard Branson, who Drew created a line drawing of to hang high on the walls of the gallery. Branson embodies the 21st century version of ‘The Grand Tour,’ a wealthy businessman who can travel to relatively unexplored territory, all that needs to be changed is the location of 17th century Europe to limitless outer space. Below Branson lies a sculpture of a man, strewn dead across the floor, representing the fatality from the Virgin Spaceship crash of 2014. It’s one of many juxtapositions in the exhibition, between wealth and the ‘common man’.
However, it appears that Drew is aiming to comment on more than simply space travel and Branson’s questionable work with his own space programme. KAPUT is a unique and innovative exhibition, which continues to provoke the viewer far beyond the limits of the exhibition space.
Drew’s work provokes critique of capitalism, distribution of wealth and the commodification of nature and space, which should be free to everyone. It becomes clearer in the second room of the exhibition, where a continuous reel of film and audio plays, as we are presented with a man’s writhing body which is sharply cut and interspersed with clips of the natural world.
Drew makes use of every viable space, through objects, video or audio, making the exhibition purposefully intense, thought-provoking and at times uncomfortable. His work forces us to confront the aspects of our lives, and society, which we may otherwise find too difficult to register and leave unquestioned. Drew ultimately forces us to question what society values more: capitalism and wealth or the natural world?
Benedict Drew: KAPUT is open daily at The Walker Art Gallery until 26th February 2017.