Artists Kreep Out Miguel Martin

The artist and curator on the aesthetics of ALTAR, the latest exhibition at Platform Arts

'KREEPED OVT RELIGIOUS KVLT KOOL,' is how Miguel Martin of Platform Arts describes the aesthetics of the upcoming exhibition, ALTAR, at Platform Arts.

ALTAR explores the superficial ambiguities imposed on our perception of horror and religious iconography through a variety of mediums including video, painting, installation and sculpture.

Given the ‘kreeped ovt’ theme of his exhibition you might well expect to meet a stereotypical Goth when visiting Martin’s workspace. In reality, he’s a clean-cut hipster right down to his skinny jeans and Converse trainers. He does wear a lot of black, though.

Martin seems very much at ease in his chaotic studio. The room is cluttered and unruly though he seems to know where everything is as he points out various pieces that have been submitted for the exhibition.

'I tried to showcase a range of mediums,' Martin says. 'Video, sculpture, painting… I wanted to display an even balance of work that maintained a similar aesthetic but with a particular creepy tone.

'In the online call out I publicised the type of work I wanted with the phrase ‘KREEPED OVT RELIGIOUS KVLT KOOL’ to hit all the categories I felt would work well together.

'It’s an entirely made up expression but I was interested to see how people on an international spectrum would respond to the idea.'

Enthusiastically, would seem to be the answer. In addition to Belfast based artists such as Ben Craig, Brendan O'Neill and Phillip McCrilly, there are several international artists such as Ryan O'Neill (Sunderland), Karolin Reichardt (Berlin) and Alexander Binder (Stuttgart) represented in the exhibition.

There is no escaping the common trend in the works of art he has chosen to display. Most are heavy on religious iconography. Is this another swipe at the big and easy target that is religion? And wasn’t the topic likely to put some noses out of joint in a country that is renowned for sensitivity in such matters?

Maybe Martin has considered this sort of question in advance. His response is certainly well-thought out. 'At the minute there’s a kind of trend in using religious iconography in fine art.

'I was just interested in how this has affected art in a contemporary way. I’m not taking a swipe at religion at all. I’m more interested in how the concept has informed the practice of the individual artists involved. And personally I enjoy researching religious iconography as an approach to my own practice.'

When asked about the other artistic influences he draws upon Martin is eager to discuss an underground music genre known as ‘Witch House’.

'The beginning of last year I discovered bands like Salem, White Ring and oOoOO (pronounced “Oh”) who fore-fronted this new genre of music.

'Darker, shoegazey, occult-based house music, sometimes tagged as ‘darkwave’ or ‘drag’. It’s an underground movement that has grown on the internet. It was their music videos and album art that I was also heavily drawn to.

'If I had more time and budget I would have invited one of the Witch House bands over from England or the States to perform on the opening night.'

Maybe next year. For now, why not visit ALTAR and see if you are kreeped out or not?

ALTAR launches on October 6 (6pm-9pm) as part of Late Night Art and will run until October 15 at the Platform Arts gallery space. Picture copyright to Simon Mills.