For his début exhibition Itai Doron took over a cavernous disused warehouse and attempted to create a weird and wonderful fantasy world, a place somewhere in the fourth dimension where the distinction between make-believe and reality becomes unrecognisably blurred.
To prepare for this trip into the unknown the spectator must first pass through a small wooden enclosure. Inside, a series of electrocardiograms from a hyperactive child pulse erratically against a background of luminescent sild-screened lunar eclipses which glow softly in the gloomy light. A young man with a bald head dances under the influence of a druggy Alice in Wonderland song. He becomes more and more crazed and tries to strangle himself with his own tie. The video clicks off and the dancer’s image disappears.
On to the next room to meet the star of the show, Mr D – the artist’s alter ego, who camps it up in a variety of guises around a bizarre allegorical tableau vivant. As a baby, MrD lies in a Kryptonite cradle, while tow life-size waxwork models of this imaginary parents look on. His father, Otis Redding, stands raised on a pulpit with outstretched arms, the tinny sound of aA Change is Gonna Comne crackling form small speakers implanted into the palms of his hands. His mother is Mamma Cass. Tragically cut off from her infant son in a storm of artificial snow, she sings a love song asking to be remembered – because Mr D is now passing irreversibly into another world.
Dispersed around this nativity scene are a series of TV monitors relaying tales from the adult Mr D’s life. Bravely, he tries to emulate every boy’s childhood heroes, but sadly fails to assume their macho powers. As an adult Superman he watches helplessly over major disasters only to be eventually swept away in a huge tidal wave. It’s even harder trying to be James Bond. To the hypnotic sound-track of You Only Live Twice Mr D gets carried away in a mad passionate dance with a rose, madly tearing off his clothes and writhing on the floor. Not exactly the best strategy for saving the world from the plots of evil megalomaniacs. Neither is it likely to win over some big-breasted Swedish spy. ‘Don’t worry’ says a dodgy look-alike of the Queen on a nearby monitor., ‘Go back to sleep. Everything’s alright now.’ Behind her, a trance inducing endless stream of sheep jump a fence.
All somnambulists please proceed to the next room where your space ship is awaiting departure. Here is the ultimate symbol of the alien world. Dominating one end of the huge warehouse is a giant painting of a low-flying UFO, hovering over the ground, with all the blatant self-parodying artificiality of a badly made B-movie prop. In the foreground a mini forest of mutoid plastic trees is brightly illuminated by a row of landing lights. And hanging in the trees like some exotic alien fruit are wax-work heads in retro-style flying gear. Is that really Orson Welles? Yes – and there’s Warhol and Disney and Dietrich too. These are Mr D’s stigmata, and eclectic ensemble of art world and cinema stars who represent the true heroes of his dreams. A monument to Mr D has been set up in the shadow of the space crafts lights. He lies on a podium, collapsed in a state of exhaustion with his Superman outfit clearly visible underneath his unbuttoned suit jacket – his duality finally revealed for all to see.
Sadly, the experience of a journey through this mixed-media wonderland fails to take on the promised cosmic dimensions and the viewer remains firmly earth-bound with all normal cognitive faculties still switched on. Faced with such ambitious syncretism, connected by a seemingly incomprehensible alien logic, the automatic response was inevitably bemused indifference. It was only after expending some effort deciphering the proliferation of cryptic signs and symbols, that the strange world of Mr D became a little clearer. It seems that it is Doron’s desire to escape the restrictive conventions of terrestrial existence which has brought Mr D into being. Through the creation of this fantasy persona, Doro can transport himself effortlessly into the galaxy of his superstar heroes. Yet this relationship is not without its problems. Loss of sovereignty is a possible prelude to identity crisis, and the aura of tragedy which pervades some aspects of the exhibition indicates Doron’s awareness of his own perilous fate.
It was perhaps the overly ambitious aims coupled with the artist’s lack of experience working outside his familiar medium of video that contributed to the exhibition’s limitations. And, in this case, the predictable accusations of hyped resulting fro9m the heavy promotional style of Jay Jopling were not entirely unfounded. Still, it’s early days yet for Doron. And it must be said that Mr D was a most excellent host for one of the year’s craziest private views, for which I would like to extend my humble thanks. Burp!