Beast made beautiful
As Edinburgh’s Collective Gallery launches a show by artists with HIV and AIDS, Susanna Beaumont views My Beautiful Beast.
‘We always try and find a title to make people think. something to make people stop.‘ explains Alistair Warner. An arts development worker at SOLAS — the Edinburgh drop-in centre for people with HIV and AIDS — and Milestone House. Scotland‘s only hospice for AIDS patients. Warner admits that naming his clients' shows is a difficult task. But he believes the title chosen for the latest exhibition will prove a winner.
The new show is called My Beauti/ul Beast. As Warner points out. similar exhibitions often feel the need to make reference to HIV in the title. but he feels that this is not always necessary. My Beauti/ul Beast is taken from the title of a poem written by Sylvia - one of the artists whose work is on display —
Wonderful Beaut I Beast
l have this beautiful beast in me.
Which l have learnt to trust
and through this beautiful beast in me
I have found this wonderful love
This beautiful beast has filled me with peace This beautiful beast makes me feel safe
it also gives me support
This beautiful beast gave me a new family of people who give me hope
This beautiful beast is full of truth
my positive beautiful beast.
My Beautiful Beast: Sylvia’s poem, which inspired the title of the exhibition
and for Warner and others it encapsulates the exhibition's essence.
My Bt’tlllllfll/ Beast brings together work made over four years by more than ten participants in the arts projects. There‘s a soundtrack of readings. a video and artworks. inevitably. there‘s a degree of poignancy to the show, but the overwhelming sense is not of despair but of self-belief — and the works hold their own in a space usually reserved for professional artists.
‘The standard of work is really high.' says Warner.
‘Many people haven‘t done anything like this since school. but once they get going there is no stopping them. It's about building self-confidence and self" esteem and having fun.‘ Some of the work is extraordinary. The Book is a collection of hand-made
‘Many people haven’t done anything like this since school, but once they get going there is no stopping them. It’s
about building self-confidence and self-
esteem and having fun.’
paper pages with text and illustrations. bound and set on a pedestal-like metalwork table so that viewers can leaf through the pages.
On the walls are collages. photographs and prints. As Warner points out. it is very positive for his clients to show their work in a public space. ‘lt‘s a tremendous lift and a boost to have work in a high- profile gallery.‘ he says.
Shows like My Beautiful Beast can help raise awareness. but although understanding of HIV is growing. Wamer believes there are still huge difficulties. ‘lt‘s still a hard slog for people living in. say. Muirhouse.‘ he says. ‘People still get bricks thrown in their windows. it takes courage to go to a workshop.‘
My Beautiful Beast is at Caller/ire (fuller): Edinburgh utttil Sat 3/ Dee.
mama!— NORTHERN nears
Frulttnarlret Gallery, Edinburgh until Sat 1 Feb. Walking into James iurroll’s Fritto . Misto, you got the unnerving sense that everything is not as it seems. A leading exponent of light-based artworks, this BS artist’s proclaimed field of interest is ‘in the realm between the physical limitations of vision and tho leamod limitations of perceptions.’ in short, it is a visual tease: pleasing and perplexing. ‘l‘urroll’s piece is enclosed in a dark, partitioned-off space. At the far end is a large, rectangular aperture and beyond, a misty rod glow of light that seems to stretch into infinity. it’s like peering into the interior of a silent,
brings together eight artists working with light. Some of the installations fail to ignite any intrigue and just seem to be investigative meanderings into optical illusion and clever effects but Andrew Gifford’s works, made under the influence of Turrell, stand out. Again in a closed-off space, his Sodium Sky and Erebus face each other and communicate their auras of shimmering and melting light and colour. In Erebusa red rectangle is suspended against a white background, while Sodium Sky consists of a circular aperture exposing a black expanse of colour. Stand a while in the space and your eyes - if it’s possible - begin to feel queasy. Weird and wonderful. (Susanna Beaumont)
and gender with humour,
influence of B-movies.
looked at the construction of identity
acknowledging the influence of ‘trivial’ areas of popular culture, the live photographic artists at BOA adopt an alternative tact. Catherine Bole, Collier Schorr, Yasumasa Morimura, Jeanne Dunning and lnez van lamsweerdc prefer a style owing more to the 80s cool, detached theory-led approach than to the
llowever, lnez van Lamsweerde’s work succeeds in throwing expectations off balance. ller seductive photographs, capturing reclining men in states of passive ecstasy, disrupt and confuse the logic of advertising. The men initially appear nothing more than Benetton clones, but closer inspection reveals the digital grafting of female hands
processes involved in the construction of identity and gender. Perhaps the artists should note the words of that well-known “ambivalent persona’ Mark E. Smith of The Fall: ‘Tbe experimental is now conventional, the conventional is now oxporimental.’ (John Beagles)
° steaming underworld, or going on into the depths of a Mark ilothko painting. Glover and intriguing, it makes one very curious about his latest project. Turroll is currently excavating the ilodon Crater, an extinct volcano in the Arizona desert, to make way for numerous light and space works. flow that could be a literal ioumoy into the underworld.
Turrall is without doubt the leading light in the Fruitmarket show, which
GSA, Glasgow until Sat 11 Jan. Inbefweonor at 00A offers the possibility of making an interesting comparison between the approaches of British and lntemational artists to those bun works of the 808: identity, gender and the body.
While British artists like Gillian Wearing and Georgina Starr have
onto these Aryan ‘beelcakos’.
Unfortunately, the other artists are ' less successful. Joanne Bunning’s mutations of the female body look cliched, while Catherine lipie and Bollior Schorr’s photographs of lesbian friends and androgynous, adolescent boys wearing lipstick, wear their strangeness too obviously to be genuinely challenging.
The show is too academic and dry to reveal anything now about the
Crossover: cathorlne Opio's photograph of Justin Bond
03 The List 13 Dec [996-9 Jan I997