Von Calhau! is a collective project of two artists from Porto, who mainly work with sound and video. This show was inspired by a 1980s-era Lisbon graffiti tag: in English, "Black Blob Back to Attack". The tag, in turn, was inspired by a Disney character, the Phantom Blot, one of Mickey Mouse's many enemies. Anyway, that character, which originally appeared in a 1930s comic strip, doesn't really resemble the strange black vinyl inflatable, literally a black blob, filling most of a dingy room off Old Street, pulsing slowly, its seams gaffa-taped and its ends stuck to vents in the floor.
It's solid yet gaseous. A bit more surreal than scary, despite the evil red eyes projected onto the ceiling, and the monsterish growls playing in a loop and filling the room. Much more black blob than phantom blot!
The pair don't have much of an online presence: a deliberate choice on the part of the artists, apparently. Not even an Instagram account, guys? So typically Portuguese to act too cool for the internet, anyway.
Back at the Kunstraum, there are a few other works on paper tacked to the wall: a strategically blacked-out Disney comic strip, which shows the interesting variety of Portuguese language onomatopeia ("Tomp!" "Ufa!" "Uóóóóóóóóóóó!" "Ih, Ih!"). And lastly, a photo of the graffiti tag itself.
Von Calhau! MANCHA NEGRA VOLTA A ATACAR is at Kunstraum (London). 12 January - 10 February 2018.