Paul McCarthy: Dead End Hole

Now open: Next in line in KODEs series of exhibitions featuring prominent American artists is a living legend. 

KODE presents Dead End Hole, an exhibition of new and recent works by the American artist Paul McCarthy (b. 1945).

With his strong social criticism and experimental works Paul McCarthy (b. 1945) has provoked revulsion, protests and debates in the USA since the late 1960s.

Dead End Hole marks the artist’s first major institutional presentation in Norway and will span two sites at the museum – Stenersensalen (KODE2) and Tårnsalen (KODE4). All of the works in the exhibition have been recently produced for Bergen. Curator is Philip Larratt-Smith.

McCarthy is among the most widely influential and important artists of his generation, working within a broad range of artistic expressions, spanning media such as video, performance, painting, drawing, and sculpture. McCarthy's work is often brutal and relentless in its attack on conformism, conservatism, and the contentment of society.

He challenges both his own and the audience’s boundaries and invites us to view the ordinary with fresh eyes to discover how illusory and relative our conception of reality is.

Restaging the contemporary American political landscape

Dead End Hole will premiere the most recent instalment in McCarthy’s DADDA, CSSC series: DADDA, The Coach, the Skull, 4 Wall (2017/2021), a four-channel video projection in which McCarthy restages the contemporary American political landscape as a regression to the level of "the id".

Four films will be projected simultaneously juxtaposing scenes from an overcrowded stagecoach, a popular subgenre of the Hollywood Western, populated by a cast of characters including Donald Trump, Nancy Reagan, and Andy Warhol. The films are looped continuously on the four inner walls of a simple plywood structure, creating a hypnotic and overwhelming environment. The nondescript architecture, which is a nod to the temporary buildings on a studio set, is converted into a makeshift arena where destructive and anal-sadistic impulses can be unleashed.

The nondescript architecture, which is a nod to the temporary buildings on a studio set, is converted into a makeshift arena where destructive and anal-sadistic impulses can be unleashed. DADDA, The Coach, the Skull, 4 Wall deepens and extends McCarthy’s subversive exploration of the tropes of Hollywood and their unspoken political and psychosexual contents. The screening will be R-rated in Norway.

Adam and Eve, Adolf and Eva, Arts and Entertainment, America and Europe

The exhibition will also feature a major new installation, A&E Hanging (working title) (2021), which will be shown for the first time. The work will be on display in the tower of KODE4 alongside a parallel presentation of works on paper from three recent drawing sessions, from 2019 - 2021, with actress Lilith Stangenberg, with whom McCarthy collaborated in Night Vater, his reworking of Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter (1974).

The drawings, some of which are on public display for the first time, belong to McCarthy’s ongoing project, A&E (for Adam and Eve, Adolf and Eva, Arts and Entertainment, America and Europe), which mines the same core themes — the intersections of sex and power, the return of the repressed, the father complex in politics, and the enduring allure of fascism as an ideology and an aesthetic — that animate both the original film and McCarthy’s version.

As McCarthy stated, “the film’s final action is a return to a primal exclusion as an existence in a dark psychological hole.”

The exhibition is curated by Philip Larratt-Smith and will be accompanied by twin magazines featuring a new text by Julien Bismuth.

The exhibition is located in the Stenersen Room in KODE 2 and in Tårnsalen (the Tower Room), KODE 4.

Please note:

The video installation in KODE 2 is R-rated (not open for visitors under 18 years). Content warning: The video depicts scenes of violence/sexual violence.

The installation in KODE 4 is not recommended to visit alone for those under 18 years. 

  • 19 Nov 2021 to 27 Mar 2022
  • 150/100/0 *

* Adults: NOK 150, Students: NOK 100, Free admission for children and KODE members. The ticket gives admission to all exhibitions at KODE for two days