Spectre of Paradise takes our collective dissatisfaction as its foundation. Acutely aware of popular culture’s insistence on our own insufficiency — its constant and un- relenting exhortation to “selves” that are chronically in need of “help” — along with the promise of a better self or future waiting to be embodied, Gardner and Kennedy use installation and sculpture to draw this idea to its logical conclusions.
Kennedy uses wall-based installation to examine the phenomenon of stigmata, or wounds that appear in relation to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ among Roman Catholics, to probe faith’s capacity to offer salvation, and the fraudulence it inspires when those promises are reneged upon. Gardner, in turn, takes a different tact: building a faux-memorial, he invokes not the act of mourning or attempt at immortalisation, but instead the unceremonious aftermath. Letting flowers die and beer bottles go untended, Gardner’s sculpture examines what’s left behind when the vigil ends; the detritus that remains once we’ve given up on the possibility of legitimate enshrinement. Together, both remind the viewer that there is no redemption to be found in suffering, only open wounds and empty beer bottles.
For GROVE, Spectre of Paradise serves as a first iteration of Untitled Shell Corpora- tion, the collective enterprise spearheaded by those of Leeds’ Screw Gallery. Bring- ing Gardner and Kennedy to Berlin, it also kickstarts the gallery’s local program, with the exhibition the result of a residency at their new space at Greifswalderstr. 5. While GROVE have worked with both Gardner and Kennedy in the past, this reintroduction to its Berlin audience marks a linkage between GROVE’s previous programming and that which is to come.