HEE- m A SHADED PLACE
The human subjects of Wendy McMurdo's photographs look unnervineg like sci-ft replicas. Their physical forms have been twice removed from reality - photographed and fed into computer memory. digitally transmuted. cloned and relocated. The clicking of a computer mouse has transported them, trance-like and passive. into an unreal. theatrical space.
These uncanny. large-scale photos. exhibited in Edinburgh’s Portfolio Gallery. are disturbing and nightmarish. Leslie Victoria Morris sits in a circle of ﬁve of herself. each clone staring vacantly ahead. A bemused Mathew Philips, seated on stage. looks at his sleeping doppelganger. By creating artificial spacial relationships between multiple selves, McMurdo transforms real people into the bizarre incarnations ofa dream or into freakish subjects of a supernatural experiment. In another series of work involving McMurdo digitally inserting a child into a wooded landscape. she subtly turns a natural association into an uncomfortable relationship between the human figure and nature.
Photographic manipulation is a common technique, evolving from early 20th century photo montage to tnore recent ﬁctional. computerised ‘photo-journalism‘. Yet the photographic lie still disturbs, confounding our persistent association of photography with truthful documentation. Even more significantly. the idea of reinventing human images through computerisation touches a technology-sensitive nerve. lf photos can so easily be submitted to the irreverence of computer-engineered. falsification, what images can we still behevein?
McMurdo's venture into the medium of digital technology affirms the infinitely malleable possibilities of photography and its ability to blur reality and fiction. By exploiting the capacity of the digitised image to
illustrate the other-wordly, the unconscious or the extra-sensory, the photographer creates powerfully deceptive and fascinating images. Yet the staged and artiﬁcial quality of these photographs reﬂects the ambivalence of the digital medium itself. Frozen, statue-like. alien to their environment. these subjects also represent a fear of the dehurnanising potential of manipulative technology. (Tanya
In A Shaded Place: The Digital and the
Uncanny is at the Portfolio Gallery. Edinburgh until 2 I Dec.
3 galleries, and each artist's work can be
With dead cows and piles of bricks grabbing gallery space and headlines, Scottish painting is attempting to reassert itself, as Paul Welsh discovers.
A name can cause all sorts oftrouble. Take The Persistence of Painting at Glasgow‘s CCA, for instance. lfnot by intent. then certainly by effect. seven Scotland-based artists have been enlisted to carry the proverbial can for painting. in a decade critically dominated by conceptual art and new media. In what could be a political gesture, the exhibition wags a finger at anyone who thought the CCA's agenda was skewed towards the latter and nowt else.
The stakes for the exhibition are unusually high, then, but the CCA's commitment to encouraging debate and ‘applying pigment to canvas’ is confirmed. The exhibition space is attractively divided into seven mini-
experienced free of physical distraction.
Graeme Todd's landfall and Three Sisters are the show's more traditional works, displaying an impressive use of . colour that immediately involves the
series exposing the organised blandness ? of modern developments. taking. 2 among other things, an industrial estate,
Gyle . . . or much pop-art. Julie
Roberts's Restraining Jacket and
; Dentist Chair. however, employ flat
swathes of colour to illustrate Victorian
discomfort — they keep both the eye and brain interested.
innocuous detail. l-ler Chair, a foot
3 some mortal thoughts In the g
; viewer at a sensory. rather than cerebral l level. Animate pink and blue skies hint .
ofTurner. lush greens suggest Gauguin l
— these expressive landscapes work in a '
way Todd's smaller paintings do not. Contrast this with Carol Rhodes's
a caravan, and countryside tamed by farming. and making them appear like illustrations from a l-lomby catalogue. They are not satisfying or stimulating to look at, but then neither is South
objects associated with pain and
Of the remaining work, Louise Hopkins's work relies on seetningly
balancing on a chair arm, is focused and somehow exciting. while Richard Walker's Pillars captures a familiar urban feeling, using a naturalistic, physical style.
As should be expected. The Persistence of Painting showcases a spectrum of technique and intention - as a result. its quality is variable. lnevitably. though. its spicy title. against a background of debate about
the Scottish art scene, will pump public
interest and expectations. In future, however. the painters involved might want to avoid similar strategic positioning — the grouping of their work might be more convenient for critics than the artists themselves. Some Interesting New Scottish Painting doesn’t have the same ring. though, does it?
The Persistence of Painting is at the C CA. Glasgow tutti! Thurs 7 Dec.
: Witness to the Holocaust 5
The reverberations of the Nazi Holocaust have been felt throughout western culture in post-war philosophy, morality, theology and , political thinking. its impact on the art world, while significant, has largely been overlooked — until now.
After Auschwitz: Responses To The Holocaust In Contemporary Art at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre, bears witness to the atrocities committed against European Jews during World War II. A varied collection of works completed in the last decade by artists from a variety of backgrounds, it combines personal testimonies with more overtly political reactions to the Holocaust.
‘There are Jewish artists and non- Jewish artists, some who had no direct connection with the Holocaust and others who were actually in the camps,’ explains exhibition curator Mohica Bohm-Duchan. ‘More generally, After Auschwitz is intended to be thought-provoking and stimulating, even if in an unsettling way.’
Daisy Brand, whose ceramics are included in the exhibition, says the
. necessarily be vulgar and crude. 3 Speaking from her home in
poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric’.
t contribution to the show in terms of 1 her own wartime experiences and how
, her art: ‘My father was a banker in
the eastern part of Czechoslovakia,
show also addresses the notion that 5 art in the wake of the Holocaust must
Washington DC, she explains the exhibition sets out to contradict German-Jewish philosopher Theodore Adomo’s assertion that ‘to write
She goes on to define her own
they were eventually incorporated into
Bratislava. He was given a posting to
near the border with Bumania and
: Ukraine. While we were there, we were i § rounded up and transported to a j Jewish ghetto. We were then
; transported to concentration camps. l ' myself spent time in seven different
camps, including Auschwitz. l was only fourteen years old when I was incarcerated and I subsequently saw my whole family murdered.’
After the war Brand eventually took to ceramics but felt unable to confront her awful past until years later. ‘I think those things are too awful and they are suppressed, but as you get older the experiences tend to resurface - at the beginning of the 803 I found myself better able to address some of the issues.
‘At first, i worked only for myself, but I’ve recently been able to exhibit and I now feel that my generation has an
obligation to talk about what happened in the Holocaust. There’s been so much denial and revisionism - it makes exhibitions like this one terribly important.’
Kitty Klaidman, another American- based artist whose work is included in After Auschwitz, also took years to address her wartime experience in her paintings. ‘I was born in Czechoslovakia and was a very young child during the war. A close friend of my family arranged for us to be hidden - he knew of another family who lived in a remote village, and they helped us hide.’
Klaidman’s immediate family survived the war - other members were not so lucky: ‘My family didn’t really talk about what happened through the war, and I think that to go through life with a positive attitude you are compelled to put things in the background.’
The artist’s contribution to After Auschwia evolved from a series of paintings Hidden Memories. “My husband and I returned to the place my family was hidden, and afterwards I was compelled to start work on this sequence,’ explains Klaidman. ‘The paintings deal with the spaces in which we were hidden, but some are infused with a strange light that speaks of the bravery of those who hid us.’ (John Richardson)
After Auschwitz is at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh until 20 Jan, 1996.
52 The List l-l4 Dec 1995