In the early 1990s (before he became known as the l’enfant terrible of contemporary cinema), Lars von Trier directed a mini television series called The Kingdom. Set in a sinister hospital where the doctors participate in masonic rituals and phantom ambulances routinely appear and disappear, The Kingdom is a feverish nightmare, filmed in a gloomy sepia tone that almost seems to menacingly encroach on the viewer as the episodes unfold. It is a similarly unshakeable sense of dread and anxiety that features heavily in Jan Manski’s new project POSSESIA. Drawing on the grotesque violence of Europe in the early 20th century, POSSESIA plunges into the darkest and most squalid recesses of the human soul and latches itself there with a vicelike grip. 

References to the misuse of technology and the flagrant disregard for medical ethics are rife in Manski’s twisted world. In Horseman VII, an anthropomorphic, legless figure sits hunched in a wheelchair, dismally confined to a cage. Implement I is a chilling direct representation of the notorious craniometric experiments that took place in the late 1800s. Manski uses a range of mostly organic materials to create his works: these include oil paint, fur, leather, soil, antlers, despoiled vintage mannequins and animal bones assembled with steel. Visitors who are curious about Manski’s creative process will also be pleased to know that Primal Elements, a film documenting the preparation of his work, will be screened in conjunction with the exhibition. POSSESIA is a prequel to Manski’s working trilogy (the other two projects being ONANIA and EUGENICA). 

POSSESIA is on at BREESE LITTLE Gallery from 27 February to 12 April. 

BREESE LITTLE, 30b Great Sutton Street, London EC1V 0DU

Images courtesy of the artist and the gallery.