The Klabautermann is a mythological Santa-type figure that watches over sailors for their safe return, but sailors are doomed if he is ever seen...

This riotous new video commission and exhibition from Pandhal makes bold provocations about racial profiling, class and means of political resistance. It provides some very good questions to the question... “Who’s inciting these people to this senseless anarchy?

Pandhal raps to a score composed by Glasgow- based musician Joe Howe (Sunbutler, Ben Butler and Mousepad, Germlin) as we are dragged through a chaotic animated landscape, interspersed with video clips of the artist performing a lecture to an empty auditorium and later making a confectionary crown for a friend. 

In addition to the exhibition, Pandhal will present "Success Stories" a live performance with Joe Howe.

Exhibition organised in collaboration with Berwick Visual Arts.

Hardeep Pandhal
United Kingdom
Thu 21/09 - Sun 29/10
13 mins
Gymnasium Gallery

Hardeep Pandhal presents his exploration of white supremacist psychology, taking Klaus Theweleit’s study of Nazi fascism and masculinity in his classic book Male Fantasies as a primary point of departure.

In Konfessions of a Klabautermann, Pandhal raps to a score composed with Glasgow-based musician Joe Howe (Sunbutler, Ben Butler and Mousepad, Germlin) as we are dragged through a cartoon world marked by male fears of floods. It forms a dense story board where borrowed and imagined visions border between the homely and the gratuitous.

Scenarios are woven from a rich array of histories and mythologies, including British director Richard Heslop’s 1991 film based on Noah’s Ark Floating, and a scene taken from American writer Chester Himes' cartoonishly violent Harlem Detective series.

The video cuts to seldom seen personal archive footage of a private performance within a flat, which shows the creation and crowning of a glass-like headpiece constructed of sugar, a nod to the pompous Durbar ceremonies that symbolised Britain’s power during the height of the Raj.

A knitted garment worn during the performance is displayed within the exhibition space, reworked with Pandhal’s unfinished hand embroidery.

In his lyrics, Pandhal assumes the persona of an imagined ‘Klabautermann’, a mythological trickster that watches over sailors for their safe return - but sailors are doomed if he is ever seen.

Male maritime coming-of-age rites connected with imperial adventures across the seas also become the unlikely source of comic parody. In naval initiation rites referred to as ‘Crossing the Line’ for example, sailors would inflict ritualised forms of abuse on their co-workers to become ‘savage’ before encountering unknown territories for the first time. Such hazing, involving flagrant misogyny, homophobia and racism, would form the building blocks for these men to become of age. In the process, such ritual re-enactment serves, in Pandhal’s view, to repress a sense of self-weakness.

Questions surrounding the legacy of colonialism come into focus again with the large wall drawing in the gallery, based on James Gillray’s well known satirical cartoon of the Scottish-born politician Henry Dundas, which was originally executed by Gillray in light of Dundas’ anti-abolitionist views on Slavery.

Pandhal’s interest in historical and cultural amnesia are fuelled further by being a resident of Glasgow, a place littered with unabashed trophies of empire - the city’s major art gallery and the names of the most busiest streets (such as Dundas Street) for example draw attention, albeit not in any forthcoming way, to Scotland’s complicity within slavery and empire.

Alongside this, Pandhal presents his versions of ‘comic foregrounds’, freestanding screens with head-holes to imply viewer participation. With the sardonic drawing No Open Door for the Indian, exhibited outside the gallery and based on a drawing first published in the Hindu Punch in 1914 (whilst the Komagata Maru was at sea), Pandhal gives us a further glimpse into his double-edged world.

Text by Pakivelli

Hardeep Pandhal

Hardeep Pandhal (1985, Birmingham) is an artist based in Glasgow. He was awarded a Leverhulme scholarship to complete the MFA programme at The Glasgow School of Art. His work was selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries (2013), the Glasgow International Open Bursary (2013), the Drawing Room Bursary Award (2015) and the New Museum Triennial (2018). Recent solo exhibitions include: 'Liar Hydrant', Cubitt, London (2018); 'Konfessions of a Klabautermann', Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival (2017); 'A Nightmare on BAME Street', Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2017); 'Hobson-Jobson', Collective, Edinburgh (2015); 'Plebeian Archive', David Dale Gallery, Glasgow 2015); 'A Neck or Nothing Man!', Comar, The Isle of Mull (2015); 'Joyous Thing with Maggots at the Centre', Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (2014).


Lecture Theatre (with David Stearns, 2018), Pool Party Pilot Episode (2018), Konfessions of a Klabautermann (2017), TROSC REMIX (2017), Career Suicide (2016), Ya Hasan! Ya Hosain! (2015), Cut Aways (You Cannot Rule Without Laconism) (2015), Profane Illumination (2014), Jojoboys (2014), Lord Leverhulme’s Ghosts, (2013), Visiting Paolo Chiasera’s Tupac Project (2013), Boners, Durbar and Inmates (2012)

Hardeep Pandhal’s Konfessions of a Klabautermann was commissioned for BFMAF 2017

Event 22nd Sep · 21:30 (60 mins)

Success Stories!

The first live set from Success Stories! 

Joe Howe is a sound artist and composer based in Glasgow. Joe collaborates with artists and musicians in a variety of contexts. For this exhibition Joe has contributed to the sound design and recording of the video component. For this live occasion, Hardeep and Joe are operating under the band name Success Stories!