IN THE FRAME
Sculptor, performer and Glaswegian superstar, George Wyllie is back at the Festival with an installation called 32 Spires for Hibernia on Calton Hill. lie explai. s.
. in V George llie with ’Cross Border Installation‘ ‘The idea was to unite ireland in these days of political strife and I thought I’d lend a hand. So I went right round every county in Ireland, 32 of them, and collected three branches and one stone from each. Two other guys, Michael Donachy and Kenny Munro came with me because it was pretty heavy collecting all those trees.
Then we brought them up to the land boundary between Donegal and londonderry and then linked the branches together to form spires. We put it across the land boundary, a little stream, so ireland was, in effect, united by the trees, you see.
The installation is really truly Irish because the components come from every county, 26 in the South and 6 in the iiorth, and along the stream was a red line to show the political point of separation. Then we brought them to Edinburgh and we filmed them up on Calton iiill last week. But it’s been difficult to get a site for this in Edinburgh because it’s been said to be ‘politically sensitive’. Anything to do with ireland is politically sensitive, i suppose.
But we’re installing it on three Sundays. It’s much too big to go in a gallery and it’s a bit oi a change from the usual exhibition, sculpture or installation. ilo, it’s nothing like Andy Goldsworthy, it has some social comment in it. I shy away from influences. The materials are like him but the use of trees is not exclusive.
When we set it up in Ireland the response was great from both sides of the border. It was back to basics. Because the thing is if the trees can get together why can’t the humans. flow, there’s a good quote for you.’ (Beatrice Colin)
32 Spires for lllbemla will be constructed on Calton llill every Sunday during the Festival at 1pm.
ART . FESTIVAL
_ ’ Interplay of signs
Maud Sulter’s photomontages are hailed essential viewing by Bethan Cole.
Maud Sulter’s photomontage deconstructs the traditional male. European. ethnocentn'c notion of a ‘histnry' of art. Using the narrative voice of Monique. a black girl from Cameroon performing in a 1920s German circus. Sulter‘s project is to reclaim and ‘centre‘ those marginalised from history both visually and textually.
The sixteen photographic prints and the ‘Blood Money’ poem (about Monique) which compose her latest exhibition S_\‘I‘(.‘(IS foreground this strong political agenda. ln Nair Er Blane. [—4 Series, black and white images of tribal sculpture are superimposed onto postcard views of Aryan Tyrolean landscapes and clear icy Norwegian Fjords. These almanac images of picturesque locations are ruptured by bold. black. carved faces and squat. symbolic bodies. The effect is to expose the kitsch idealisation of the pastoral and Romantic traditions. to question the received conception ofthe sublime and ﬁrmly to instal a non- white, female presence as the embodiment of a fertile imagination.
Within the Dam! er Dumas diptych, Sulter augments the concern with visibility through the personal histories of the photographed subjects. The first of the two features a striking anonymous woman of African descent rumoured to be Jeanne Duval — Baudelaire‘s muse. licr velvet-swathed sepia figure is flanked by a ‘Hotel du
_ Tin miles high
The Collective Gallery hits double figures this month and is celebrating its tenth birthday with an exhibition called Tin — this being the traditional material one gives to one’s betrothed after a decade of blissful harmony. Whether or not the bevy of artists who contributed to this spirited anniversary show view their umbilical artistic relationship in a similar light is the obvious question. But this could be answered by interpreting the overwhelmingly humorous and fun nature of the work as each artist offering their own individually fashioned birthday gift to the gallery. The Tin theme has been interpreted literally and colourfully by most of those working in the three- dimensional form. The pieces which spring to mind most readin are Jackie Graham’s silver-sprayed alternative wedding cake which recycles a lleinz
from an early technicolour ﬁlm. Overlaid centrally against these two halves is an image of a huge red fertility figure. This gleaming Matriarch stands proud. wrapped in colourful shawls. with an organic grassy mane of hair. planted onto a subverted dual crux of Western culture. The Dumas partner of this layers an African elephant‘s head over a sepia print of Alexander Dumas. who was of African descent (until now a little known fact) and behind him, a hilly backdrop which is pure Heidi.
Thought provoking and essential viewing.
Gloria Chalmers. director of the award-winning Portfolio Gallery, explains that Sulter‘s use of images also disrupts the photographic tradition. ‘The Dumas and Duval portraits by Nadar are, in themselves. important works in the history of photography.’ Another important influence on Sulter. evident in Svrr'as. is the work of August Sander. the renowned documentary photographer who
Beans tin to comic effect. As does Collective stalwart Mathew lnglis’s Tin Pot Dictator replete with bloody dismembered plastic dolls’ heads
1‘ , ’ s
worked in ermany, and catalogued a cross section of the social order. The poor and ragged. circus people. Africans and others who did not fit with the white supremacist order populate his pictures. Chalmers also
; points to John Heartﬁeld, the originator ’ of photomontage as a possible
inﬂuence for Sulter‘s mix of high art and popular culture backdrops. High art provides another location for
i Sulter‘s iconoclastic placement oftn'bal
sculpture. in Helas L'Hemine a late 18th century Angelica Kauffmann painting of a woman holding a helmet, has her head obscured by an African mask. The representative nature of the picture is undercut by the abstract quality of the mask.
Sultcr‘s mission to shatter a linear male history involves a tirelessly fascinating interplay of signs. Sulter's photomontage lyrically rcinstates those who have been invisible. Her
f sophisticated neo-historical prints
pierce the very heart of the inherent
ignorance ofthe white, Western male tradition. Thought provoking and
Maud Salter is Syrcas is a! Pormilio
Gallery until 17 Sept.
t Paul Gaultler Tribute award for her
fearsome, Jane Mansfield bustier,
delicately countered by gossamerthin tin flowers woven into the frame.
llenry llondrachi and James lumsden opted for the painted form, but fell slightly flat in their lack-lustre
interpretations, the medium not lending itself to the theme.
Overall, the exhibition only hints at
1 the artistic potential the Collective
has nurtured over the past decade. As to the future, newly-appointed
Director Sarah Munro has galvanlsing
visions. ‘We don’t want to spoon-feed
the public,’ she says, ‘ln that we are
? here to promote and encourage artists 5 to experiment and push back boundaries. But we are very keen for
people to be part of and feel involved with the gallery.’
if all Collective members buzz with the same enthusiasm as Munro, then silver looks like being the theme for
m no.3 ‘Blg mgr the next retrospective. (Ann Donald)
stuck at random around a cooking pot.
However, Susan Dayal’s splendidly intricate Tin Tutu must win the Jean-
Tin Is at The Collective Gallery until 3 Sept.
74 The List 12—18 August 1994