Tim Rollins and K.O.S. are a collaborative group. Rollins is an activist and teacher who began his career as the assistant to conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth. In 1979 he co-founded Group Material in New York and taught students at Intermediate School 52 in the Bronx in the early 1980s. He went on to create the Art & Knowledge Workshop. His highly acclaimed collaboration with the members of K.O.S. (Kids of Survival) takes the form of drawings, sculptural objects, paintings on canvas and paper.
Alongside Tim Rollins, the following members of K.O.S. have been involved in making the work for this exhibition:
Angel Abreu, born in Philadelphia, 1974; Jorge Abreu, born in New York, 1979; Robert Branch, born in New York, 1977 and Rick Savinon, born in New York, 1971.
Tim Rollins and K.O.S. highlight quotes from books, plays, operas and prose that the group are engaging with. Although these texts or musical scores may originate in the past, the selected passages are chosen for their relevance to our current political and social conditions. The title of this exhibition has found its root in the gothic novel Dracula by Bram Stoker – with all of its ominous darkness that relates to our present time.
Also referenced in the exhibition, Gretchen am Spinnrade (after Goethe and Schubert) reflects on the swooning for Faust by Gretchen, distracted by her treadle. With the Brothers Grimm tale Rumpelstiltskin, the spinning of straw into gold hints at the blind pursuit of material splendour in a late capitalist period that might be seen to discourage critical thought. Tim Rollins and K.O.S. also revisit George Orwell's Animal Farm, with the relevance of the allegorical narrative only becoming more potent since its original publication. Other work makes reference to Goethe’s epistolary novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, 1774.
‘... though the moonlight was behind them, they threw no shadow on the floor.’
Dracula, Bram Stoker, 1897
‘My heart is heavy, my peace of mind is gone. I'll never get it back, never get it back!’
Gretchen am Spinnrade (Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel), Franz Schubert, 1814
‘I have got to spin gold out of straw, and I don't understand the business.’
Rumpelstiltskin, Brothers Grimm, 1812
‘All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’
Animal Farm, George Orwell, 1945