Kate Kotcheff

Kate Kotcheff

(6th -9th August 2009)

(Part of Time Out First Thursdays)


Continuing on themes concerning Architecture in East London, Kate Kotcheff's most recent work has focused on The Blitz; particularly the very last moment before destruction and what that would have looked like. Archival film footage was sourced from the Imperial War Museum. The films found were mostly shot by the Auxillary Fire Unit and the RAF in 1940/41 during the night raids by the Luftwaffe; who dropped incendiary bombs over London.

Stills were taken from the screen which revealed flashes of light where bombs would go off in the sky and light up the screen for less than a second. As film runs at 24 frames a second, images that are normally hidden to the naked eye become visable again. The bombs became 'spectacular' images of light; incendiary bombs were transformed to look like fire flies and ground guns become industrial smoke stacks.

The images have a quality all their own; with the blue tones emanating from the digital tv screen, and one is easily seduced by their aesthetics. But this is morally troubling since how could moments in war; just before many hundreds of people were killed - possibly be beautiful? Was this just another example of a part to play in Debord's media enslaved 'Society of the Spectacle'..? There is one image of a woman's face; who appears to work as a shelter warden looking up from some subterranean hideout, she is staring into the distance with a tear in her eye. Kate wondered what is was that fascinated her so about this image. It was something about the dreamy gaze; her expression-was it Kate herself? Was she looking on romantically at these beautiful lights that also destroy?- like the woman in the image?

But Kate wants to wake the viewer up from all this dreaming ! ..To the reality of what these images actually represent. The slogan 'Dont Stare So Romantically!' is taken from Bertolt Brecht's theatre theory to take the viewer out of his dramatic reverie, he called it his 'distancing' or 'defamilarisation' technique. Contrasting images and texts are used to show the reality of some of the things that are going on at ground level, particularly in relation to the Blitz shelters. A more human look at the reality.

Kate Kotcheff at NOID gallery