Full of eastern promise .
Nick Dewar dons a turban f
and takes in the views at an exotic, National Portrait Gallery exhibition
— Visions Of The Ottoman Emplre.
The idea of the Orient existed purely in the minds of Europeans — opulence. decadence. (even depravity — heat. light and dust in an exotic setting. While you can ﬁnd that on any Club 18—30 today. such things were hard to ﬁnd in polite lower Chiswick during the Victorian era. Not surprisingly. the Orient attracted many young men. able to go out and report on their glorious escapades. the equivalent ofwhich today would be dancing the conga naked at lam. clutching a stuffed donkey.
These conquests inspired successive generations to travel to the Orient and record their encounters.Territory was lain out like a blank page for Europeans to write on. thus creating the land they travelled across. This was seen as a
process of self-discovery. We can now gain an incredible insight into how people must have felt in that situation and their elation at discovering civilisation‘s roots.
This vividness — the light. colours and compositions — shine especially brightly in the sketches of Turkey and Egypt by Sir David Wilkic and Edward William LaneYou feel each brushstroke was recorded with immense enthusiasm and astonishment.
The majority of paintings in the exhibition convey what must have seemed outrageous in Europe. but acceptable in the Orient. The atmosphere depicted by Delacroix in
()(lulisque (l825-28) and ()il Sketch for
the Death of.S‘urdunupulus ( l 826—27)
naked ladies. harems and opium
" . Francis Frith. Roger Fenton and
FEST'VAL 0 AM
pervades throughout. with images of
smokers in omate surroundings. Beside these lie the stilled moments of
Don’t leave home without 1
Auguste Salzmann. Serene ﬁgures lounge in the desert. sit astride remnants of eroded civilisations or merely gaze at the wonders before them.
This juxtaposition of truth and ﬁction works well. While we can look on painting as no more than a representation ofthe thinking ofthat time applied to canvas. photographic print can be regarded as an objective statement of perception. As time rolls on and more knowledge and insight is acquired. more is revealed about the world as it actually was and not how the photographer wished it to be seen.
The exhibition plays on how the Orient was seen through western eyes as a place of romance. populated by exotic beings in haunting landscapes. with promise ofextraordinary experiences. While the show acknowledges the folly of our idealism. it in no way redresses this. and rather. romanticises it further.
Yet any show that can boast of Teynard. Salzmann. Delacroix. Ingres. Turner. Bellini. Du Camp and Lear in the same room can't be bad. Forget the serious stuff and languish in pure visual over-indulgence — the gallery shop even sells Turkish Delight.
Visions of the Ottoman Empire is at the National Portrait (Jul/cry until 6 Nov.
They‘ve been out for a week and they’re going fast. so hurry. ‘Outpost ‘94‘ brings art from the galleries onto the streets and into your pockets. Happy art addicts and more casual collectors can stock up on new works by 250 different artists dispensed across the city in outlets ranging from the Botanics to Burger King. Each work is the size of a credit card but varies in materials and imagery depending upon the artist. The artists include designers. photographers and a ﬁnancial journalist producing works which may either be collectable series
At the French Institute Gallery, Martine Ieddam utilises the outstanding view from the iirst tloor gallery window towards the Dean Bridge to create Cross-Eyed, a simple and engaging site specific installation.
Martine tieddam’s work is an interesting exploration oi the processes of viewing and representation. A dramatic view from the large gallery window is captured and placed within the gallery by two methods involving photographic manipulation. The ﬁrst is an extended table-mounted panel in the centre of the room which displays the full panorama of the view. The second, a series of ten wail-mounted, deep-set circular glass discs, with the appearance at small but unique paperweights.
In both cases the images have been cleverly manipulated using computer graphics to allow the inclusion of photo-realistic textual images. A telescope allows the viewer to investigate and view the ‘real’ scene outside in detail and contrast this with the manipulated photographic images inside the gallery.
The inclusion of text within the images sets up a intriguing game oi hide and seek between viewer and artist and is deployed in a variety of
on banners or as illuminated signs, provoking a disquieting, slightly mysterious quality which undermines
. what we see from the gallery window. the technique is exploited further by
wall mounted glass discs which give a convincingly distorted three
dimensional quality to the detailed
images and text within them.
ways. Words appear as stone carvings l Demonstrating the ease with which
of representation and how we look at
or individual handmade items, some even extending into the realms of interactive media.
The organisers of ‘Outpost '94' are the Edinburgh-based group independent Public Arts who describe themselves as ‘the more innovative side of public art'. Involved in urban development projects in Ayr. Hamilton and Stirling. their aim is not simply to deposit obscure artworks in city centres under the pretence that this in itselfis sufﬁciently life-enhancing to those who live there. lPA back up their projects with informative publicity and educational events which encourage awareness of these environments and participation in them.
Last year’s ‘Outpost‘ in Edinburgh was highly successful with card- swapping developing among collectors. But the artist-ego syndrome of more established colleeters like the Saatchis is undermined by the simple act of making all the cards anonymous. letting us value the work and not the signature. it‘s the opposite of a machine that Dali once produced churning out copies of
his signature on blank pieces of card to be sold off at high prices. However. those who like their an appropriately labelled can purchase signatures for their cards from the Outpost information desk open throughout the Festival from 2—7pm Monday to
Saturday. There's also a natty catalogue/album that enables you to make your own collection ofOutpost exhibits. All proceeds from sales go to Scottish Aids Monitor. (Simon Yuill) ()utposr is at multiple venues throughout Edinburgh until 2 Sept.
computer software such as Photoshop can used to be distort or manipulate ‘reality’, the installation raises a
number of questions about the nature
the world. (Ian Gilzean)
Cross-Eyed is at The French Institute, 13 Randolph Crescent until Sat 3 Sept, 9.30am—6pm, tree.
The List 26 August—8 September l994 61