SHAUNA MCMULLAN cuts away at the flesh to reveal the bare bones of 20th century props.
Words: Susanna Beaumont
Stripping bare. Disembowelling. Dismembering. ()nce robustly l'unctional street and road maps are reduced to a skeletal I'ragility. ‘A‘ roads and 'B' roads — tral‘l'ic arteries — hang limp. impaled on a rod. .\'o more a navigational tool. more a labyrinthine collection ol- blood and gttts.
Shauna .\le.\lullan takes maps. newspapers and postcards. then caret‘ully and patiently with the aid ot‘ a scalpel removes the 't‘lesh' to leave just the bare bones. the inners. 'l‘he vocabulary ot' her work -- scalpel. skeletal. arteries easy comparison to the trade ot‘ the dissector. Back in the Ib’th eentttry. anatomists did much the same with real l'Iesh and blood as they tried to get to the heart ol’ the matter. In McMullan's work there is a similar sense ol‘ interrogation. but here it’s notions of time and place and location as determined by her materials.
Born in Northern Ireland. :‘VchuIIan went on to study in the early ()(Is in Cheltenham. A haven tor retired colonels and linglish properness. this was a place where .\le.\lullan's ‘.\'orth Irishness' demanded an explanation. giving her work a politicised interpretation. She moved to (ilasgow School oI' :\rt primarily because It was neither Iingland nor Northern Ireland. The move sharpened a sense ot'
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‘Newspapers are a determining part of our daily life and culture. I am trying to displace their authority.’
Wish you were here: Shauna McMullan's A Clearer Picture
placement and displacement. but here .\le.\lullan t'ound 'Iess pressure to answer all those questions >- the work could be more honest.’
lior .\le.\lullan. tnaps attempt to deliver order over
chaos. While in Rome on a Scottish Arts (‘ouncil scholarship. .\le.\lullan cschewed the tourist map and instead followed her feet. The twisting and curling streets couldn't be reduced to a simple trail of red on an A4-si/cd map.
Likewise with newspapers. "l'hey are a determining part of ottr daily lite and culture.‘ says .\le.\lullan. ‘I am trying to displace their authority.’ It‘s a pertinent thought. In the midst ot' increasing 'news management'. as .\'.'\'I'()’s propaganda machine shadows its bombing campaign and as Serbia presents an ‘aIternativc' spin on the same story. newspapers attempt to both distil and distort a complex issue.
.\le.\lullan's work is oby iously hitting a chord. She is currently showing work at the Iiruitmarkct (iallery is lfi‘u/Hlin/t /.\'/I '/ ()l't'l‘ )i'l. \Vhllc at Stills. she is showing alongside .\'e\ i||e BIas/k. who works with liquid light photo emulsion. .\Ic.\lu||an is inaugurating '/'/it' 34-Hour Him/(Hr. a shop window in (ilasgow's .\Icrchant (‘ity which be the headtptarters ol an on-going \isual arts initiatiye called Bulkhead.
Iler work comm:.mds a territory that is taut with a very l'ragile tension. lior eyample. while in Rome she bought Jill) postcards which she cut away using various street maps ol‘ the city as a template. 'I‘he Vatican. the 'I‘iber and all the great Roman treasures are reduced to a skeletal. t‘iligree-Iike web. .\ city‘s identity has been cut away.
Shauna McMullan’s work is in Edinburgh at Stills Gallery, Tue 27 Apr—Sat 19 Jun; Fruitmarket Gallery until Sat 29 May; and in Glasgow at The 24-Hour Window, Fri 14 May-Sun 4 Jul.
Art world news and views
'IMAGES OF MEN under pressure at the end of a century’ is promised at The Arches. The Glasgow club venue is turning its attention to art with a show of work by ten Scotland-based artists, including Mark Dawes, Kate Gray, Billy McCall, Graeme Wilcox and Paul Carter. Doing something different with art, with space, with music, with clubbing - that's how it is described. The opening party is on Sun 2 May and features performance art and live drum & bass; the show itself runs from 3-8 May. For details call The Arches on I
IF DOWN IN London try to catch Douglas Gordon's latest offering. Having slowed down Hitchcock's Psycho to run for a total of 24 hours, the Glasgow-based artist has now turned his attentions to the filmmaker‘s Vertigo. Entitled Feature Film, perhaps it will turn art-goers into height-fearers. Feature Film is i at the Atlantis Gallery, 146 Brick : Lane until Mon 3 May. For details ; call 0171 336 6803.
THE HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS visual arts weekend takes place over Fri 7-Sun 9 May, taking in venues from Inverness's art.tm to Skye's An Tuireann. At Another Space Ltd, north of Inverness on the A9, a series of projections will be screened to tie in with the elections, including D.W. Griffith's Birth OfA Nation. A former aeroplane hanger, this vast space continues the year t with a series of events. In June, in conjunction with the Yorkshire | Sculpture Park, is a timely exhibition to include a section of the Berlin
Wall entitled A Monument To The Twentieth Century: The Refugee.
This is followed in August by
Gernika, a series of installations - artists include Elizabeth Ogilvie - inspired by Picasso’s Guernica to commemorate the end of the
Spanish Civil War in 1939. For details call 01463 244271.
Under pressure: Graeme Wilcox's Alone With The Phantom Heads on show at The Arches.