Glasgow: Street Level until Sat 2 May. We've all been immortalised on camera against our wishes. And, while it may not lie to the likes of Kate Moss, the camera certainly has been known to be less than generous to the rest of us. Artist Suky Best is keen to explore the falsehood of how a fleeting moment is captured for ever more. In a series of prints, Best focuses on
details culled from the edges of ."
You'll find no bucket and spade frivolity here. however. Rather, Best uses the images to a dark and deeply disturbing effect, more akin to a Cn'mewatch reconstruction.
‘The original images are of little incidental details unwittingly captured in the background of other things, like the people unknowingly trapped in a scene on a picture postcard,‘ she explains. 'What I'm trying to do is look at them as evidence of things that have happened in the past.’
The figures in Best's narratives are transported into a new and foreign context, and are recast as the main protagonists in 'half-seen, barely understood stories'. All of the eleven pictures, enlarged to human scale, are slightly blurred,
resembling images caught on closed-circuit television. Adding to this overall absence of a recognisable identity, the pictures are numbered rather than named. Intricate details aren't necessary, inviting us to create
our own narratives.
However indistinct, the backdrop plays a significant role as Best challenges our perception of the countryside as safe in contrast to the dangers of the city. Colour too is vital. An abundance of red appears like blood seeping across the page or as a warning of
chilling events about to unfold.
‘I want people to look at the pictures.’ she says, 'so I've used lots of lovely, bright colours to attract the
Detached dwelling: one of Suzy Best's prints from Inadmissible Evidence
the same time.’
attention. But they create a false sense of security as you're repelled by the sinister nature of the images at
Comparing the pieces to a police reconstruction of the
run-up to a crime, Best considers the ways we are
captured daily on film — in the bank queue, on the motorway or doing our shopping.
'I don‘t see surveillance cameras as protecting us,‘ she concludes. ’They had about seven minutes of video footage from the shopping centre prior to the abduction
of Jamie Bulger, yet it didn't prevent him from being
murdered because no one knows what a murderer can look Iike.‘ (Claire Prentice)
Edinburgh: National Gallery Of Modern Art, Sat 25 Apr—Sun 28 Jun.
80 THE LIST 16-30 Apr 1998
Telly Savalas once mused why, if a picture paints a million words, couldn't he capture the object of his affections. Which is probably a major reason why snapping photos is such an everyday activity, as tourists of every persuasion attempt to capture a little part of their very own reality. Snapshots have long been a source of inspiration for artist Calum Colvin. His boundary blurring constructions mix sculpture. photography and painting, both contemporary and classical, to create something both new and instantly recogniseable as Colvin artwork.
In his latest work, Sacred and Profane, Colvin takes ’old-masters‘ by Titian, Rubens and Canova as a starting point; but re-invented With assorted symbols of mythical lands, they verge on the kitsch. A copy of the magazine The People’s Friend appears like a tattoo on the arm of one of The Three Graces. In Diana And Actaeon, a Madonna poster is draped across garish 19705 wallpaper, whilst Diana
and her coterie bathe amidst the debris of Calum Kennedy records and other tartan tat,
’There’s a familiarity to that stuff,’ says CoIVin, 'and it’s something that's as much a part of Scotland as its offiCiaI history, which is one of out and out farlure.’ Whilst the imagery is as familiar as it is multi-Iayered, it's a move back to basics for Colvin followrng the Iii-tech computerised images of recent work, while thematically it refers back to his earlier series Seven Deadly Sins.
Though Colvrn's plans aren't set in stone, his next works plan to delve further into the past Via a set of glass- covered negatives of, yes, old-time snapshots. ‘We all draw as children,' Colvin observes, 'but unless people go to art school, it’s something they tend to stop. But nearly everyone takes snapshots, whatever age they are. There's a ubiquity there that makes it very creative.’
Art talk overheard from behind the video installation.
NEIL TENNANT IS a man of many talents. The Pet Shop Boy, who has proved his non-pop credentials with his public veneration of Noel Coward, is now moving into art circles. He's been announced as one of the judges for this year's Turner Prize, along with critics Marina Warner and Fumio Nanjo, Ann Gallagher (Exhibitions Officer at the British Council) and Tate director Nicholas Serota.
Time has also come for the public to send in their nominations for the Prize. Will there be another Scotland-based artist is this year's line-up? In 1995 it was Callum lnnes, in 1996 the winner was Glasgow's Douglas Gordon, while last year’s shortlist included Christine Borland. It's up to you - the deadline for nominations is 31 May.
OCCUPATIONAL HAZARD IS the title of a new book of critical writings on recent British art. Debunking the myth of the 'young British artist’. the books tackles such well-known bétes noires as the tabloid press and what is doubtless a Peter Mandelson fuelled notion - that every artist is evidence of Cool Britannia. It's published by Black Dog and contributors include Malcolm Dickson of Glasgow's Street Level.
MYTHS ASIDE, WHAT about the wholesale invention of artists? The expose of New York Abstract Expressionist artist Nat Tate as a pure fabrication delivered a few blushes on the international art scene. The clever wheeze of author William Boyd, it well illustrated the power of make-believe. David Bowie also lent back-up support. On the press release, Bowie was quoted as saying ’. . . the artist's most profound dread — that God will make you an artist but only a mediocre artist - did not in retrospect apply to Nat Tate'.
APOLOGISES TO THE Collins Gallery. In our review of their show Chocolate, in Issue 329, we wrongly attributed Chocolate Bath. The work is by Shelley Crossley, while the image Milky Bar should have been credited to Claire Baxter.
Art world pet: Neil Tennant is to judge this year's Turner Prize