Avi Holtzman: The War Trilogy
Edinburgh: Portfolio Gallery, Sat 21
Feb—Sat 28 Mar. . Avi Holtzman gets to the point. His
photographs do not amount to a political statement, but show an environment which is a metaphor for human suffering and pain. It was a shock, Holtzman says, to see how badly the landscape was destroyed and desecrated. Saturated with land mines and territorial markings, it was truly scarred.
Avi Holtzman spent four years photographing the Israeli landscape. Not cities or townships with place names made familiar by news broadcasts, or crowds caught up in demonstrations and stone- throwing, but oddly silent places on the outskirts. Buffer zones, security fences, border controls surrounded by parched and desolate swathes of land. All evidence of war, dispute and, of course, death.
An eeriness hangs over the scenes. While the majority of ‘trouble spot‘ press photographers are on the lookout for action shots, Holtzman wanted something different, perhaps less dramatic but no less powerful. Occasionally there is evidence of actual warfare - a burnt out tank, left for dead, resembling an animal carcass.
Holtzman was born in Israel in 1952 but for the last ten years has lived in Holland. The reason for his move he explains, was prompted by a sense of growing apart from his birthplace, yet he still regards Israel as his home. He believes it is this literal living distance from Israel that has given his work an element of detachment. Over four years in the early 905, he toured Israel’s borders with its four neighbours - Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt — taking photographs. Holtzman
Which Man's Land: Watch Tower Outer Defence from No Neutral Territory
Arab way of life.
sense of it.‘
titled the work War Trilogy, comprising No Neutral Trilogy, Frontier and Modes Of War.
The photographs are rarely given geographical references or place names. ‘It makes no difference,‘ says Holtzman, ‘to the massive reign of death.’ Instead the landscape photographs frequently alert you to the New Jewish settlements environment that for centuries has been home to an
Holtzman was clear on another point. He did not want to photograph Israel‘s Occupied Territories. ‘I have only photographed pre-1967 [Six Day War] territory which I can relate to properly,’ he says. ‘I can make more
Edinburgh: Matthew Architecture Gallery, until Fri 13 Mar.
P is fOr pop, post-modern and propaganda; three apparently disparate words but they provide an apt resume of Portable ‘Architecture. Premiered last year at London’s Royal Institute of British Architects, it proved hugely popular and is now relocating to Edinburgh. Its success was well- deserved — the show involved a sassy advertising strategy which included a huge inflatable woman strapped to the building’s august facade.
Up and away: portable living on display
Provocative tactics, such as the blow- up girl, certainly challenge our preconceived notions about what constitutes an architecture exhibition. Victoria Thornton, director of the R.I.B.A.’s Architecture Centre, for one, is determined to wrestle the architecture debate away from the narrow confines of dusty academics and unctuous developers to explore a more spicy contemporary and political agenda.
Of all objects created by society, buildings are the heaviest and also the most enduring, static and inflexible. Need this be the case? Thornton
argues that portable architecture is dynamic, responsive and adaptable: 'It has served us for centuries, yet is usually considered of little importance, perhaps because of its impermanent nature, but now it is more relevant that ever.’ Thornton believes portable architecture can mean a more economic usage of materials and have a more sensitive impact on the environment.
The spirit of inspired audacity is reflected in the exhibition’s scope and diversity. The material on display encompasses technological extremes such as the gypsy caravan and the yurt, a Central Asian tent, through to NASA's space laboratory and U2's touring rig, the so—called Popmart. Even the ubiquitous Portakabin is not forgotten in this roll-call of all things portable, relocatable and collapsible
The thrust of Portable Architecture is dynamic and determinedly populist. Its format includes pneumatic 'sausages', corrugated panels, video and slide presentations. Sadly the blow-up girl hasn‘t made it north of the border. Not that she is not portable of course, it’s just the London show had to be edited. (Mark Cousins)
Eavesdropping from behind the installation.
TALK HAS IT that the British Art Show is going to kick off in Edinburgh in 2000. Apparently, the London-based organisers of the touring exhibition of young British artists were impressed with Edinburgh's galleries and their hosting of the show’s final leg in 1996. Could this be further evidence that the city is brushing up on the contemporary art front?
PUBLIC ART CONTINUES to stir. Antony Gormley‘s recently installed Angel Of The North near Gateshead has been dubbed fascist by its critics, and there is frantic debate about the giant winged creature’s sexuality. Apt then is Glasgow School Of Art's Environmental Art new publication entitled Decadent - Public Art: Contentious Term And Contested Practice. A collection of critical essays edited by David Harding, its contributors include GSA tutor Sam Ainsley and former staff member Pavel Bﬁchler.
NOT FORGETTING THE GALLERY SPACE, interesting developments are afoot at Edinburgh‘s National Gallery of Modern Art. The Dean is currently being refurbished by Terry Farrell and Partners to accommodate work by Leith-born Eduardo Paolozzi, Surrealist and Dada works from the Keiller Collection, and temporary exhibitions. The extensive grass area surrounding the Dean and the Modern Art Gallery is also to be re- landscaped with sculpture. There is even talk of Rachel Whiteread making a contribution. The Dean is to opened in the autumn.
TERRY FARRELL ARCHITECT of London's egg-cupped TV AM building and Edinburgh's Conference Centre, seems to be very active in Scotland’s capital. Besides The Dean, he's re- landscaping the forecourt of the Sheraton Hotel on Lothian Road, currently a non descript no-man's- land. Farrell's scheme is to include public art; and Edinburgh‘s public art consultancy P.A.C.E. has been brought on board to advise how this can best be achieved. Looking to the future, Farrell is obviously keen to keep his tartan connection. He is apparently planning to make a bid to design the new Scottish Parliament.
I Love, Love by Damien Hirst featured in the 1996 British Art Show. Who will win in 2000?
20 Feb—S Mar I998 TIIE lISTTI