Joachim Schmid Edinburgh: Stills Gallery until Sat 9 Jan

Since the late 805, one highly visible growth on the body of art has been that fungus know as the 'professional artist’. Before that, artists were simply artists; then came Damien Hirst’s Freeze and numerous other warehouse shows, and anyone with a mind for business and a body for international travel became a 'professional artist’.

Professionals make things which are instantly recognisable as 'art'. Arguments over the construction of artistic value, which dominated conceptualism, vanished. The adoption of ’amateur' practices by artists so dominant in modernism were largely jettisoned.

The spectre of the amateur rises again in Joachim Schmid's Taking Snapshots: Amateur Photography In Germany From 1900 To The Present at Stills. Schmid collects photographs taken by people not 'blessed' with the insignia of artist. Everyday, ‘ordinary people'.

But before you get excited about the resurgence of debate on the construction of value and quality in art, it should be noted that Schmid isn‘t particularly interested in these sort of questions. Schmid, like many fellow German artists (Gerhard Richter is the most obvious) is occupied with the act of collecting, sorting and organising his archive. His obsessiveness and dedication to his project is the advertised ’interesting' idea. He's an artistic stamp collector, a trainspotter.

It has been said that the impulse to collect is indicative of an unsettled childhood. The world of cataloguing is the promise of unconditional order and reassurance the bureaucratic impulse as spiritual crutch. An interesting idea, particularly if this Germanic thirst for cataloguing could be linked to a collective war-induced trauma. Yet to

pursue such an idea is like adopting a Schmid-like obsessiveness, a distraction from the main question: how does the work succeed as an art exhibition? The answer is, it doesn’t.

In a coffee table book, the photographs would function adequately. There are some highly enjoyable, perverse, touching photographs. Take, for example, a collection of Nazi officers standing in their front rooms with their new uniforms on; no doubt snapped by their proud wives, they are both funny and disturbing. Unfortunately such gems - there are many just aren't strong enough to carry the show. Schmid’s anthropological project is just too objective. '

Like many contemporary artists working through the legacy of conceptualism, too much of what was originally difficult (for instance, the ideological content of art, the relationship between art and language) is sucked out. Bring back amateurs, they had more bite. (John Beagles)

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Taking clues from the art scene.

TALK IS THAT games of pool will be available to visitors of Family, which opens on 13 December at Edinburgh's lnverleith House. The group exhibition featuring work by, among others, Turner shortlisted artist Sam Taylor- Wood, Rachel Whiteread and Richard Billingham - is planning to turn the exhibition space into a series of domestic rooms. Bedrooms, drawing rooms and a billiard room are to be provided and rumour has it that the challenge is to beat Glasgow artist Douglas Gordon at pool. Sounds more like a reinactment of Cluedo - Gordon in the drawing room with a billiard cue . .

MEANWHILE A LIAISON is reportedly flourishing between Edinburgh's Fruitmarket Gallery and the Collective’s director, Sarah Munro. Munro is jointly curating a ‘new generation of Scottish artists' show for next April at the Fruitmarket. Sounds good, but the Fruitmarket should not let slip its role as Scotland’s showcase of international, established artists. That said, the gallery's summer show is new work by Kiki Smith, a US artist who is without doubt a major player on the international art circuit.

GLASGOW-TRAINED ARTIST, Jonathan Monk, who is currently based in Los Angeles, has set up a Website - www.| entitled In Search For Gregory Peck. It's an engagingly sentimental journey into Monk's family life and ties into his solo show at London's Lisson Gallery. Another Scotland—based artist currently showing in London is Moyna Flannigan. Flannigan, who paints rather forlorn-looking individuals, has

a show at the Lotta Hammer. 1 A NEW GALLERY has opened its doors

in Edinburgh. The Reynolds Gallery on Dublin Street will be a space with a

2 difference in that it combines an ' contemporary art space with a studio

attached for children's art and craft

i classes. For details call 0131 226 4821.

' THERE’S STILL TIME for submissions to i the Times/Artangel Open Commission. The first national arts commission

open to artists (either individuals or groups) working in any media, Artangel was the commissioner behind Rachel Whiteread's House and hopes to commission two works to the budget of £200,000. The deadline is 18 December; for details call 0171 490 0226.

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Thoughts of family: Jonathan Monk investigates his family‘s holiday snaps