Le Bourgeois: Stephan Dillemuth 'Diskodekorationen: From Another Century' (until 3rd November 2019)


Recently I've been making a concerted effort to visit art spaces in somewhat untraditional places. I say 'untraditional' but they're now becoming more commonplace as real estate in London becomes a total joke. In my quest to understand how the public can effectively engage with contemporary art, galleries located in shopping centres and similarly very public spaces are of great interest. More often than not, they are located in areas without a strong art scene. With gentrification in full force, art communities are moving to new pockets of the city all the time, but if we're being optimistic about it, this means that new audiences are being given the opportunity to experience contemporary art. Is this the case for Catford's Le Bourgeois? I can't be sure...

Installation view: Srephan Dillemuth, Diskodekorationen: From Another Century, Le Bourgeois, London. 4 October - 3 November 2019. Image courtesy of the artist at societyofcontrol.com

Catford has seen some unprecedented (or am I being naive again?) development recently, including a nearby dive pub being turned into a glitzy, almost trippy, gastropub, and the old shopping strip being transformed into a cinema and street food establishment. Anyone who has spent any time in Catford will understand that this is incredibly weird, but anyway when these changes occur, the new art scene is never far behind. Le Bourgeois is set up in a former restaurant of the same name, and some of the original features remain intact. This is where my fascination comes in - strip back the gloss of the moneybags galleries and what's left? A real passion for the art, if it comes across right, and this has been done really well at Le Bourgeois with the work of German artist Stephan Dillemuth.

Installation view: Srephan Dillemuth, Diskodekorationen: From Another Century, Le Bourgeois, London. 4 October - 3 November 2019. Image courtesy of the artist at societyofcontrol.com

The show is heavily inspired by the artist's time in Chicago, and his immersion in its house music scene. Something I'm desperate to write about is the allure of neon, and the strip lighting in the middle of the room gives off a real seedy vibe, or at least one resembling a bar. The purple and yellow hues can be seen from outside which will either entice passers-by or repel them further, depending on how their head is feeling... Perhaps unsurprisingly, the show's title translates as 'Disco Decorations', and for some reason this is really pleasing to me. The idea of depicting house music through visual means is a beautiful concept; I love the idea of a memento mori for how music makes you feel. At a time where we're experiencing new things, with shorter attention spans and less money than past generations, electronic sounds have the potential to have profound effects on our psyche and moods.

Installation view: Srephan Dillemuth, Diskodekorationen: From Another Century, Le Bourgeois, London. 4 October - 3 November 2019. Image courtesy of the artist at societyofcontrol.com


Synaesthesia is a big part of music genres like house, and the work engages different senses. The fact that the artist visited Chicago for a short time, as opposed to being fully immersed in the city, gives his viewpoint a different edge, as well as the fact that most works are from 1988/1989, with some small alterations made to the plinth works this year, a series called 'Disko'. They are comprised of plexiglas, wood, mylar, lighters, candles, sugar cubes and chicken bones, and being located in the middle of the room they provide some grounding to an otherwise busy exhibition. 

Within said busy environment, once the viewer’s eyes have acclimatised to the neon the centrepiece is 2017’s ‘Parallaxis Disconiensis: Clown or Clone?’, which is a plaster mask of the artist’s face on a self-driving pedestal. With an old-school AM/FM handheld radio attached to its face (a model which my dad owns and still uses) blaring out house music, the sculptural work is an assault on two senses as it drives itself around the space, navigating and narrowly missing its audience and other works. Now that sound is added to the experience, the space between music and visual cultures is bridged… this is it! This is how it’s done; there aren’t many artists that fuse music and art seamlessly and bring them together successfully. I truly loved this exhibition and hope that passers-by in Catford are lured into this tiny world where south London meets Chicago via Germany.

Check out the audio that comes with the exhibition here.

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