Edinburgh: City Art Centre until
Sat 10 Jan *inhk
Life in black and white has been done a million times, but Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado has consistently rummaged beneath the surface dirt and beyond the back-pack trail. This exhibition, run in conjunction with Christian Aid to mark 50 years of Indian independence, doesn’t so much 'do India’ as explore a culture still rising from the ashes of colonialism.
It' is almost an industrial travelogue — we move from the coal mines of Bihar to motorcycle factories in Madras and the shanty towns of Bombay. The portraits are busy affairs, the only calm coming from the proud faces staring back at the camera. All this seems strangely similar to social-realist portraits of the 505 and 605 taken in depressed, industrialised northern Britain. Of course, the Gorbals never had huge pipelines ripping through the ghetto to take fresh drinking water to the upper classes, but you can bet there was an equivalent.
Salgado’s pictures may be vivid insights into an ever-changing nation, yet one can't help but wonder whether all this dignity of labour stuff is a romantically contrived conceit.
Olympic Village Glasgow: Transmission Gallery until Sat 13 Dec we
The title Olympic VII/age suggests finely honed bodies. Intense preparation, communal life and high idealism. It promises a powerful cultural package. Unfortunately, Transmission’s show (the return leg of an exchange with Liverpool’s Three Month Gallery) fails to deliver a winner. In this knock-out sport of ideas, nobody throws a really good
Edinburgh: Portfolio Gallery until Wed ‘ 17 Dec.
Over the past two years, you could be forgiven for thinking Pavel Biichler's existence revolved solely around disputes with Glasgow School Of Art. However, the former head of fine art, who left last year, has escaped the clutches of bureaucracy - something Balzac described as 'great power wielded by pigmies’ - and returned to art production. His one-man show at Edinburgh's Portfolio offers the chance to see if there is life after art school.
talked about. (John Beagles)
Examiners (1989): 1948 shot of future US president. Nixon
Using five works made over twenty years, Biichler has endeavoured to create 'a conceptual space’ in which he hopes visitors will be able to 'contribute some meaning'. All the works examine Biichler's prime concern: the possible difficulties in communicating. Although many of the pieces in the show superficially use forms of language - Swearing Aloud uses four projectors rapidly flashing up gestures in sign language - his concern is ’to communicate the condition of Communication itself'. Or to put it another way, 'it ain't what you say. it's the way that you say it.‘
This may sound dry, but Tracing Paper hints at a more humorous, ironic side. Charting the journeys of the internal memoranda in Glasgow School Of Art, Biichler's intention was to get this convoluted network of communication to generate connections with mental processes. Indeed the gaps, slippages and blind spots of communication here find their perfect
The shows other works continue the theme. How To Find A Way In The Dark? features 26 drawings of hands signalling the letters of the alphabet for the deaf, the twist being that the drawings were made while Biichler was blindfolded. An interesting show. which will no doubt be much
Salgado's Building The Rajasthan Cana
Alan Michael’s series of photo- realistic paintings are copied from a 70s gay magazine. Intentionally bleached—out, they show two men in a light embrace, one couple kissing and others leaning supportively against friends. Michael wants the viewer to reconsider these once- radical images. Although the artist’s personal agenda is irrelevant, reading anything but straightforward gay pride is impossible. This could be Michael's point.
EmbrOIdering funky skateboard knitwear with quotations from Wittgenstein is one alternative to political probing. Joanne McGonigal’s hats are better than Nike’s range but the thinking person's bonnet poses a problem. The work is obviously early Wittgenstein but the maestro U- turned late in his career. It’s a pedantic pount, but when is a variable not a variable? When it's a woolly hat of course.
For flippancy with a manic edge, Roddie Mathieson’s mechanised SCUlptures are big in a fairytale way. Downstairs, a miniature satellite and radar station whiz through their tiny OfbllS. Upstairs, a mirror-line box makes a mockery of mass- reproduction. Inside the box, you can see endless images of a branch adorned With a dolly’s arm.
Better than Nike? Joanne McGonigal’s skihat
he replaces director Penny Rae, who
Views from behind the installation
CENTRAL BELT DWELLERS might want to belt up and get motoring to Peterhead and catch lain Irving's latest show, A Fast Moving Car. The exhibition was conceived by Irving while driving in the fast track and contemplating writer Douglas Coupland's adage ’driving is like enforced meditation'. Its focus is the whirlwind of thoughts we have while gazing through the windscreen. Passengers on board include artists Claire Barclay, Dalziel 8: Scullion, Eva Rothschild and Jane Fawns Watt. For details call 01779 841311.
JANE FAWNS WATT is not only getting cosy on the back seat. She has spent time recently in the most perilous of seats, the dentist's chair. One of four artists commissioned by P.A.C.E. (Public Art Commissions 8: Exhibitions) to create site-specific artworks for Edinburgh's new Dental Institute, Watt has changed the ouchl into wow! with her fibre optic installation of star constellations overhead the dreaded dentist's chair. See Agenda, page 22, for full story.
ARTISTS HAVE ALSO taken on the most powerful symbol of national identity, the flag. To mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Stirling Bridge, Jacqueline Donachie, Ross Sinclair, Christine Borland and others were commissioned to design a flag. A T-shirt emblazoned with ’Scotland' hanging on a washing line is Simon Starling’s wry take on tartan tourism. The flags are at full mast in Stirling and are available to tour flagpoles around the country.
FURTHER AFIELD, Edinburgh-based artist Rose Frain is projecting photographic images on to the facade of Pacembu Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil in December. Meanwhile, a band of Glasgow artists - Alan Currall, Claire Barclay, Smith & Stewart, Simon Starling, Joanna Tatham and Richard Wright are showing work down under in the Sydney/Glasgow Exchange throughout the festive season.
GLASGOW'S CCA has a new director, Graham McKenzie. Formerly principal arts officer for Glasgow's South East,
has moved to Brussels.
Flag flying: Simon Starling’s full-mast ﬂag
2i Nov—4 Dec 1997 THE HST 83