_ Suicide blues

Probing the depths of human despair is a thought-provoking exhibition at Glasgow’s CCA. Gill Roth takes the road to hell and back.

You're lying in bed. it's the middle of the night and you can't sleep. It's the perfect time to torture yourself with those big. unanswerablc questions. What will your future hold‘.’ Are you losing control of your life? What‘s more frightening: life or death?

Bad Times at the CCA is a season of events taking us on a journey into the abyss. Be warned. this is not for those who only like to look on the bright side. But if you have a cynical disposition. a sick sense of humour and a strong feeling for irony. Bail 'l'inres an orgy of doom and gloom is for you.

Hopeless is a joint exhibition by live artists within the Bad Times series. reflecting difficult or painful aspects of human experience. A tone of unsupprcsscd personal melancholy is set by Has Jan Ader's video pieces and Georgina Starr‘s video of herself weeping. Belgian painter Luc Tuymans presents a world that is ashamed and spiritually sick. Scottish artist Martin Boycc's Souvenir Placards throw doubt on the effectiveness ofdir‘cct political action and English artist Thomas Sharpe‘s work depicts the difficulty of presenting ourselves to the world.

After all the enforced jollity of Christmas. the New Year is traditionally suicide season. The suicide statistics for l-logmanay and New Year‘s Day are the

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highest for any day of the year. It's the time of year i when we take stock of our lives in a world that seems increasingly desperate and divided.

An installation by Erika Rothcnbcrg and Tracy Tynan. Suieiile Notes is the ultimate in bleakness. The artists present the last comrmrnications some people have chosen to leave behind. Obtained from an anonymous source in the Los Angeles Police Department, the messages are unchanged and only the names and handwriting are altered.

These desperate notes are left by people of all ages and backgrounds who chose to end their lives fora variety of reasons. Some are angry. bizarre and even witty. but most are profoundly sad. particularly a note written by a twelve-year-old boy to his father in

The Voice of My Fear by Thomas Sharpe

which he apologises for getting an ‘F' in English. One man's message simply states: ‘Just another business failure.‘ The letters are attached to body 3 bags obtained from a mortuary supply store. On the l bottom of each bag are the victim's sex. age and suicide method used —- Male/l Z/Gunshot. Contemplating the sad. harsh and painful aspects of life is something we are usually too busy or scared to confront. With this series of work. the CCA provides j a timely platform for artists and audience to explore 5 not only their preconceptions about art. but those feelings of alienation and hopelessness common to us i all. Hopeless and Suicide Notes is (ll Ilie C(‘xi. Glasgow from Sat 2/ Jun—4 Mm:

Return to sender

The overblown image of the dying boxer Benny Kid Paret slumped in the ring at Madison Square Gardens is the first in a series of arresting screen- printed images to fuel the viewer’s thoughts in Eugenio Dittborn’s exhibition, Airmail Paintings.

The key to this exhibition’s thematic and literal sense lies in the whimsical phrase ‘in transit’. Chilean artist Dittborn has invented a new genre of art that can be sent through the world’s Airmail system to galleries and museums around the globe in A3

manuals, anthropology books and boat manuals to feed his often disturbing image bank, Dittborn deploys the silkscreen printing process to transfer and iuxtapose the eerie black and white images with humorous Biff- inspired cartoons, text extracts from the specialised manuals and Jenny llolzer-like declarations. Poignantly, in each painting there is the simplistic graphic of a bed, as if the illustrative metaphor for home and stability is the only constant in the human life terminally ‘in transit’.

From the photograph of a 138-year- , _ old British sailor entombed in ice to that depicting the distorted body of a victim of the Pinochet dictatorship, 7" sprawled on the ground, Dittborn has i/ imbued his original art form with a multiplicity of meanings that resonate in the viewer’s mind for days after. (Ann Donald)

envelopes. Thematically, once these light, unwoven fabrics are unfolded to their grandiose size, they show the

human being ‘in transit’, somewhere between life and death.

Raiding sources as disparate as newspapers, cartoons, forensic

Alnnail Painting by Eugenio Dlttborn ls at The Transmission Gallery, Glasgow until Sat 21 January.

The Lisi I3—26 January I995 55