3 - 11 June 2023. K.L.8, Brussels, Belgium.
Over the past two years, Dilum Coppens retreated to his studio and desublimed the different aspects of his artistic practice. “S.o.t.D.P.” is the result of this reflective period, an exhibition that combines paintings, sculpture, video, and a new experiment with virtual reality into a comprehensive installation.
To shape his research, he returned to the idea of an artefact: a historical object with a mystical or unknown meaning. This time he focused specifically on religious artefacts and the way they give an aura to prophets and the beliefs they give shape to.
“S.o.t.D.P.” visualizes the history and legacy of a fictitious prophet. Structured like a fragmentary vision, the works mimic the mysterious and equivocal cluster of meaning that archaeological artefacts and religious imagery contain. Dilum acts like an oracle delivering a message and failing to reach a coherent conclusion, and instead lapsing into a strange phase transition of narrative elements. The use of different media within this project reinforces the collage elements present in the individual works, connecting form and content. They are structured as visual riddles, laden with a playful mysticism, becoming a line of transmission for a meaning that the artist doesn’t quite grasp himself.
Dilum has always been an avid fan of fantasy novels and games. Both these cultural forms are heavily indebted to mythology and how it constructs meaning through narrative. Our ancestors created myths to explain the inexplicable and indeterminate world they were surrounded by. In that sense myths, games, fantasy novels and films offer a kind of escapism, by teasing out a sense of wonder that has largely been lost in our contemporary understanding of the world. Yet this sense of wonder still manifests itself in the gap that continues to exist between mystery and definition, between definite knowledge and bewilderment, and allows us a certain freedom. Coppens tries to recreate this sense of indeterminacy in his works, creating an archaeology of our own age.
Marx referred to religion as opium for the people, and perhaps myths used to serve the same purpose. The instability and inadequacy of meaning as a concept is expressed visually by this disjointed mixture of different media. Consequently, it shows the futility of this human attempt to impose something comforting on the bewildering world around us. Meaning is unreliable in the end. It is the stories human beings cannot help but invent: are they in any way helpful other than in the sense that an illusion is helpful and meaningful as some sort of opium?