ART reviews

Tobias Rehberger

Glasgow: Transmission Gallery until Sat 27 Feb a: we

Transmission’s latest show offers the opportunity to experience the work of an internationally regarded artist, Tobias Rehberger. Working with Standard Rad, a group of young London and Frankfurt-based graphic designers, Rehberger has made a series of unconventional works probing the utopian legacy of modernism.

First impressions of the space may leave the uninitiated mistakenly thinking they've stumbled into a new designer furniture shop. The floor has been painted red and classic ’minimalist’ furniture and ambient lighting have been tastefully arranged. However, on closer inspection the furniture reveals itself to be constructed not from the finest pine but the MFI favourite chipboard while the lighting far from encourages a meditative state of contemplation. It pulses on and off in an increasingly irritating manner.

In Rehberger‘s organisation of space, the idealistic promise of engineered mental and 5008' liberation through designed domestic arrangements

The future's brighter‘h Rehberger's interior spaces


stutters. The promise of Zen-like contentment offered by a Japanese table and its ambient lighting is deliberately botched and redundant. The rough edges of the chipboard tables are unwelcoming. The serenity of the lighting is tempered by the fact that the reflected glow comes from TV screens showing such sci-fi classics as The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.

Theo Van Doesburg, principle instigator and theoretician for the early 20th century De Stijl movement and later a Bauhaus lecturer, once wrote: 'The quadrangle is the token of new humanity. The square is to us what the cross was to early Christians.‘ Eighty years down the line, the legacy of De Stijl is for many redeemably soiled by the experiments in town planning executed in this and other European countries.

Rehberger operates with this knowledge. He fluctuates like his pulsating lights between nostalgic pangs for the utopian loss of belief in a designed, better tomorrow and ironic quips at the absurdist, arrogant nonsense of ever believing in a manufactured brighter future.

(John Beagles)

High Red Center

Glasgow: CCA until Sat 27 Mar we e e

Dim view: detail from one of Christine Borlands blurred slides

On my way back from High Red Center, I noticed a sign on the train: ‘11 seal is broken, please check everything is in its original position ' At the CCA, the seal of the gallery space has literally been broken. Kendell Geers has used explosives to blow a hole in the wall. Geers has suggested the work, executed in secret, is a kind of crime scene. The floor is strewn With the fallout. debris spewed, leavmg a gutted wall. It looks like a Weegee photograph of an Abstract ExpreSSionist 'crime'.

74 THE [IST 18 Feb—4 lvlar 1999

Geer echoes Marcel Duchamp whose Great Glass was famously criticised as an 'explosion in a shingle factory', but unlike Duchamp's earlier 'ready-mades’ this is a ready-unmade. Eva Rothschild has carried out a parallel process. The creative work of the graffiti artist has almost been completely wiped out by Rothschild’s destructive application of white paint. Phillipe Meste's vrdeos show his breach of the almost absurd conventions and secrecy that surround military activity, while Christine Borland gives us access to a forbidden institution. It is the act itself that counts. We become the spy's accomplice ourselves as we examine Borland's blurred slides, trying to interpret the secret information.

To ‘break’ is, of course, essential CB radio vocabulary. Gregory Green's mobile radio unit is limited not by a gallery wall but by legal constraints on broadcasting. Tomatsu Shomei captures a moment of social fracture in the Tokyo riots. The images imprinted on the wall remind us of both official news images and the unofficial poster. This is a highly appropriate exhibition as the CCA approaches the closure of its current premises for restructuring. It asks questions about activism and the gallery space. When the CCA temporarily relocates down the road to the McLellan Galleries, the structural engineers wrll move in. The burlding will be sealed. (Moira Jeffrey)

Muse Glasgow: lntermedia Gallery until Fri 26 Feb * * kit

Barbara Breitenfellner's np6b.np6c.

The idea of the muse has become inextricably linked with the notion of female passivity. This excellent exhibition, featuring the work of four artists working in a variety of media, reminds us that 'the muse' can also be seen as a powerful goddess, a protector of art and, of course, 'to muse' describes the process of thought and reflection.

Lisa Gallacher's Sewing Machine uses large photographic panels. Segments of naked body appear to be literally embroidered. The image is at once brutal and beautiful, reflecting the complexity of body image and decoration. Elsewhere, Laura Glassar's exquisitely crafted jewellery pieces are in fact ’sick sticks', the ritualised tools of the bulimic.

Barbara Breitenfellner shows both photographic work and a video, relating closely to recent performance pieces. In np6b.np6c. she is a showroom dummy photographed with a child mannequin which appears more animated, more real than she is. Catherine Whippey’s three stitched headpieces inhibit the faculties: one mask exposes only the ears and another allows the wearer to speak but not see.

The muse, as documented in this exhibition, is no longer only a subject for the artist but the artist herself. (Moira Jeffrey)

Susan Derges and Patriaa Macdonald

Edinburgh: lngleby Gallery until Sat 27 Mar swear it

Amazingly, this is the first time Susan Derges and Patricia Macdonald have exhibited together: they are so well suited, this looks like a collaborative show.

Susan Derges creates photograms by submerging photographic paper into rivers and the sea near her Dartmoor home. Using the darkness of the night and the darkened corners of the landscape as her darkroom, she engulfs the viewer in a seductive weaving of light and shadows, fixed by a flashlight and the longer exposure of moonlight.

PatriCia Macdonald’s recent aerial photography captures the flux of nature and man's mark on what is conSidered 'natural'. This God-like view illuminates the patterns and fingerprint essence of the landscape, whilst Derges' real-scale photograms use the same distillation of the elemental to achieve a sense of the transcendental. Derges’ River Taw ice-print is the perfect echo to Macdonald’s Changes Of State: Melting Ice. What is staggering is the painterly sense of colour and movement that the inspired pairing of Derges and Macdonald illuminate. (William Silk)

Robert Adam

Edinburgh: National Gallery until Sun 21 Mar infra?

t”’"'"|"‘""‘"""’ ‘0‘"- .h“ "“"'"O”Lv"'4v~‘

Robert Adam's design for the west side of Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. 1791 Not many architects lend their name to a style. Robert Adam did. The ’Adam Style' is all classmal detail and perfect proportions. Born in Kirkcaldy in 1728, Adam travelled to Europe, befriended the great engraver PiraneSI and soaked up every claSSical reference he came across. On returning to Britain, he was courted by patrons keen on architectural affirmation of their wealth and enlightened taste. His legacy: numerous grand edifices and stately interiors and a booming line in repro fire surrounds. .

Sadly, this exhibition delivers little of Adam’s obVious passion or his importance. Architectural drawmgs perhaps don‘t deal in visual soundbites but this collection, from the Sir John Soane Museum in London, is not to blame it's more the text panels. In a city where Adam's architecture can be seen for real in Register House and Charlotte Square, one would have expected photographs of the buildings today. Locating Adam's legaCy in the 20th century is not even attempted. Instead, the result is an exhibition set in aspic. One of Scotland’s undoubtedly great architects is given short shrift. (Susanna Beaumont)