Deep vibrations: Erika Vogt at The Calder

Susie Stubbs
Photo of Erika Vogt's exhibition at The Calder; hanging machine parts in an industrial space

Erika Vogt’s new exhibition brings bass rhythms and machine parts to The Calder in Wakefield.

Anyone who has ever been to an illegal rave will appreciate the judicious placement of a heavy-duty sound system inside an empty warehouse. It’s something to do with way the walls seem to shift with each bass vibration, or the sound effects that result from the noise ricocheting off all that exposed steelwork. It is thus difficult, when faced with an installation like Erika Vogt’s – with its heavy, repetitive beats and industrial aesthetic – not to get all misty-eyed for a misspent youth.

Yet there’s more to this kind of artwork than mere youthful reminiscence. There must be. Erika Vogt –whose commission for the half-derelict mill, The Calder, comprises sound alongside sculpture, digital art and film – is not the first artist to tackle like with like when it comes to industrial space. As in, she’s not the first to recreate the chaotic, disorienting noise of the machinery that once dominated factories and mills such as this one. Jeremy Deller, Massive Attack for MIF, Tino Seghal: these are just a few of those who have in recent months mined the link between the old industrial spaces of the north and our cultural present.

She’s not the first to recreate the chaotic noise of machinery that once dominated factories of the north

Erika Vogt is, however, a relative newcomer – not just to the north but to the UK. This is the American artist’s first solo show in this country. Her installation is relatively simple: three digital screens hang suspended from The Calder’s high ceilings, surrounded by ropes and pulleys and scattered chunks of sculpture, some of it bright-painted, some of it of a moodier hue. These objects are the most direct link to old industry, made up of direct plaster casts of machine parts or representing small pieces of machinery blown up to monstrous size. But the main focus – apart from that booming, bass-heavy soundtrack – are the screens. On them, three short films play, each showing shots of the sculpture strewn all around. Other images and digital animation flashes over the top of the footage, and, eventually, by the third screen, subsume the original film entirely. The effect is frenetic. There is more than a whiff of fear: of obsolescence, of time passing, of the future imprinting itself over the top of the now without so much as a precursory knock on the door.

There is an argument that the noise and repetitive beats of popular music are the result of (a reaction against) the noise and repetitive beats of the factories of the industrialised north. One replaced the other. It’s hard to say if Erika Vogt had this in mind when she developed her show in Wakefield, yet walking into The Calder is as chaotic and uncompromising an experience as the factories and then the music that followed. Yet – despite the fear of what comes next – it’s exciting, too. And not solely because of a misspent youth spent dancing in half-derelict warehouses.

Culture Guides

Backyard Cinema

Cinema

It only takes a quick glance at the film listings to realise that Christmas is coming, and quick. We’ve rounded up some of our festive highlights alongside standout seasons and festivals.

Exhibitions

Pause in the hustle and bustle of festive prep to take in some inspiration from this month’s top exhibitions.

The Ocean at the End of The Lane at the lowry

Families

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and Manchester is bursting with fun, family activities to keep the kids entertained in the run up to Christmas!

Writer Nicholas Royle. Photo by Zoe McLean

Literature

There are spooky stories, Christmas crime thrillers and plenty of books for stocking fillers as December unfolds and Manchester and the wider North region switches on the live literature lights.

Music

The festive season is here, and whether you want to escape it or embrace it, we’ve got you covered.

Theatre in Manchester and the North

Theatre

Contemporary cabaret, powerful monologues and world premiere musicals. Our theatre guide spans the festive season and beyond.

Classical Music in Manchester and the North

We preview the standout classical music events and venues in Manchester and the north.

Food and Drink

Explore the best restaurants and bars in Manchester and the North for autumn.

Tours and Activities

We’re deep into Autumn now but don’t let that stop you from finding a new tour or activity to get stuck into.

Things to do right now

Powered by culturehosts
3 December 2022 10:00 am, FREE

Winter Art and Craft Fair at Heart

Activity Until 3 December 2022, from £35.00

Wreath Making Workshop at Leeds City Museum

Image credit: Maryna Makarenko, Sun-Eaters, 2022
Cinema Until 4 December 2022, from £5

HOME Artist Film Weekender 2022

Red Squirrel at Lightwaves
Festivals Until 4 December 2022, FREE

Lightwaves at Salford Quays

Cinema Until 8 December 2022, from £7.95

Aftersun at HOME

Elizabeth Gaskell's House garden. Photo by Chris Tucker
Literature Until 11 December 2022, from £4.50

Book sale at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Cinderella at Hope Mill Theatre
Families Until 11 December 2022, from £27.00

Cinderella at Hope Mill Theatre

Music Until 17 December 2022, from £5

RNCM Autumn Season

Flecky Bennett’s HALLOWEEN 2018 Ghost Walk
Activity Until 17 December 2022, from £15

Flecky Bennett’s Ghost Walks