Hell’s Gates II Retribution

Coghlan, Tim
Publisher: Perimeter Editions
Binding: Soft cover
Language: English
Pages: 224
Measurements: 12.00 x 19.30 cm

Churches burning. Hundreds of them. Flames ripping through cavernous interiors; tearing holes through stained glass; felling steeples, bell towers, and domes. An abundance of fire. Firefighters battle in vain. Vast arcs of water appear as if trickles against the towering walls of flame. Locals, members of the congregation, and passersby look on in shock, the inferno illuminating their faces a sickly red. News crews rush to the scene to secure the most dramatic angle. In time, the structures tumble to the ground. The rubble smoulders for days.

Tim Coghlan’s Hell’s Gates II: Retribution is the second complete volume of the Hell’s Gates series, following the 2018 original (co-published by Knowledge Editions and Perimeter Editions in an edition of 666 copies), and its supplement editions Hell’s Gates: Notre Damned, An Act of God (Knowledge Editions/Perimeter Editions, 2019) and Hell’s Gates Redux (Knowledge Editions, 2022). Like its previous iterations, this pulp novel of images – a sequel in cinematic terms – sees the Melbourne-based designer and publisher delve into the realms of iconography, typology, and the implications and democracy of images. But where earlier editions used strategic Google Images searches to scour the internet for lo-res, amateur, and public domain photographs of burning houses of worship the world over, in Retribution, Coghlan focuses his gaze on a particular medium and place. Here, he utilises the moving image, creating a syntax of video stills and vignettes, picturing churches burning to the ground exclusively within the borders of the United States post-2018, the year the original Hell’s Gates was published.

It feels fitting. Like the epic Hollywood sequel – think Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Aliens, and Bad Boys II – Hell’s Gates II: Retribution doubles down on its premise. At a juncture in history where the myth of American exceptionalism has devolved and where rightwing zealotry, extreme violence, and rabid evangelicalism have filled the vacuum, Coghlan depicts the iconographic as both deeply fallible and inherently fragile. Both church and state are broken. In Hell’s Gates II: Retribution, we’re invited to take a seat in the comfy chair and watch them burn.

+
-
30.00