Indeed, what strikes you about a lot of the work on show is that, though known as an artist primarily concerned with exploring some of the most modernist aspects of making music (right through from The Future to today, by way of Human League, alliances with Throbbing Gristle and Clock DVA and TAG), his visual ideas are incredibly arcane, strikingly so.
A cold, cold day in Amsterdam replete the delights of mulled wine drunk on frozen canals – but no frost fairs for us, Incendiary was in search of a different kind of froideur in the shape of Adi Newton’s exhibition of all of the Clock DVA / Anti Group artwork at the Melkweg Gallery: a show featuring extensive unpublished and archival artwork, photographs, posters, films and audio.
Newton’s ideas have always been interesting, his wayward muse has informed some pretty strange and at times gnomic artwork, not to say music. More than most he has tried to form an intellectual synthesis using both images and sounds, and tried to envelop ideas not normally associated with the standard alternative scene - maybe this is his academic, performance-related background making itself manifest.
The show itself (once you can get past the huge sprawling video loop in the entrance which does suck you into its vibe) is a mix of media… small, often tiny pictures clustered together slug it out with video screens and ever evolving video presentations; meaning this is no easy walk through. Attention has to be paid or space has to be given. The images used are more like signals or hints – precise ones but only giving the whole picture when certain meanings are unpicked. The viewer is akin to a safebreaker at times, unravelling moods, guessing at people’s identity in the pictures (Elizabeth Báthory, Alan Turing) or identity associations, (the rippling muscles on the Advantage inner sleeve).
Some of the most striking pieces are the early photographs and collage work, stuff pre-dating White Souls in Black Suits – the musty grimy atmosphere these photographs, collages and drawings invoke is incredibly strong and nudge in style towards what Rodchenko was doing 50 years earlier. Indeed, what strikes you about a lot of the work on show is that, though known as an artist primarily concerned with exploring some of the most modernist aspects of making music (right through from The Future to today, by way of Human League, alliances with Throbbing Gristle and Clock DVA and TAG), his visual ideas are incredibly arcane, strikingly so. A lot of what Newton does is concerned with the arcane in any case – his latest work involves collaborations with Michael Bertiaux head of the (O.T.O.A) Ordo Templi Orientis Antiqua and Barry William Hale, whose illustrations for Legion 49 a tome about observances and writings from ancient texts regarding Beelzebub Newton has set to striking audio-visual effect .
The show also presents the cracking box set, Horology, (which is in a glass case of its own near the entrance and is worth drooling over for a minute or two) a box set that – we are promised, “will offer new perspective on classic albums such as Thirst, White Souls in Black Suits and Buried Dreams”. Well worth your time.