VioL-‘o WORKS NEW WORK SCOTLAND
PROGRAMME Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, until
Sun 17 Feb .00
The final instalment of the New Work Scotland Programme sees Laura Quarmby and Richard Blass both present work in video, and both cover similar ground. Quarmby’s installation takes the form of a giant, gift-wrapped box. The viewer sits inside to watch a peculiar group therapy session, in which the participants take turns as leader (a position signified by the wearing of a giant bow tie), suggesting a series of pointless activities.
The video is a commentary on self- help manuals, management training courses and the like, but it also appears that the workshop itself (rather than the record of it or its presentation) is the key part of the piece, and we are invited to engage with the process of making the work. As one of the participants says, ‘it was always going to be boring for the viewer.’
Blass is more direct. We see his attempt to make a video portrait of his parents, which he fails completely
Portrait Of My Parents by Richard Blass
to do. As the action unfolds, Blass, and his distinctly nonplussed mum and dad, become increasingly tetchy as technical problems, cock-ups and misunderstandings make a successful recording of the pair an impossibility.
Blass becomes more exasperated and, beset by bickering, the video looks like a document of domestic power games, until you spot the explicatory text, which points toward
a different interpretation: the video is intended as an exploration of the holocaust, with the artist as camp commandant and his unwitting subjects cast as victims.
Either way, it is the almost unbearable frustration of Blass’ doomed attempt to get a static shot of the couple that shines through, placing his sinister piece in similar territory to that of Quarmby’s jovial absurdities. (Jack Mottram)
PAINTING JANICE MCNAB - THE GREENOCK
FACTORY PROJECT Tramway, Glasgow, until Sun 3 Mar .000
Janice McNab's new work centres on Phase Two. a suppon group set up in 1998 by women who worked at the National Semiconductor Factory in Greer :ook. Phase Two believes that expOSure to Chemicals used il‘ the manufacture of microchips have reSulted ll‘. career. miscarriage. reproductive defects and death among workers at the factory.
National Semiconductor denies these claims. presenting itself as bountiful benefactors If“. an area of economic decline. it claims that the VIOTKII‘IQ BllVll'Ollll .0th is ‘cleaner than an operating room iii a hosptal' — an .iiifori..nate analogy given that stomach and uterine cancer. miscarriage and leukaemia are among the diseases Suffered by members of Phase Two.
McNab'S photo-realist Style presents emotive images in a detached way, as a distanced observer rather than a subjective participant. Where miich ‘isstie-based' art can be overshadowed by a human interest angle or political agenda. McNab's work can be considered cut of context and remain valid as 'art work‘ in its own right. We can read the images of the Reception and The Local College as post-modern takes on Suburbia. like Martin Parr's Boring Postcards. The image of the factory could be the coer of a drum & bass LP. all futuristic COIOurS and Surfaces.
But the context here is important. The sub;ect matter highlights the arrogance of n‘i.ilt'nat onals who invert Jenny Holzer's Triiisrn. ‘abuse of power comes as no Surprise'. But by avoiding attempts to ii‘ait'pa‘ate Il‘l'OLiin sentimentality or exaggeration, McNao's l)l'(}SBl‘i£tliOl‘z of the facts allows us. the jury, to deCio‘e on if and iioxr .‘l‘O accept i‘er ‘JEBTSIO'i of events. (Susannah Tl oinpsoi‘i
Anne, 2001 oil on board
80 TNE LIST “5" 1m ﬁll-ti”
BOMBAY SAPPHIRE - THE BLUE ROOM EXHIBITION
The Lighthouse, Glasgow, until Tue 12 Feb O.
Ron Arad, Pollux Champagne Flute
The Bombay Sapphire Blue Room is a touring exhibition showcaSing conteii‘iporary glass deSign. selected by members of the Bombay Sapphire FOundation. a body set up by the company to 'encOurage and reward the very best use of glass in modern deSign'. The selectors (several of whom. interestingly. are also exhibitorsi are eminent critics and designers Such as Jonathan Giancey. Ron Arad. Marc Newson and Tom Dixon who have nominated works in the categories of art. function and architecture.
Apparently attracted by the 'deiiiocracy of design' in the collection of Caithness Glass paperweights. Toni Rodgers. of Elle Decoration. follows her nomination With a dubiOuS statement concerning the ease with which the ODJOCIS can be transferred from 'low-brow' anthropological artefacts to high- brow. tongue-in-cheek kitsch. We can only hope that Rodgers statement comes complete with ‘ironic' inverted commas when she compares the contexts of a “SWirly-carpeted two-up two-down belonging to penSioners oop north' to the rarefied enVirons of a 'blank London loft'.
Unfortunately. the omnipresence of the sponsor undermines the philanthropic and aesthetic aims of the foundation; the alleged Spiritual or sculptural qualities of the medium are difficult to conSider when a Bombay Sapphire logo is emblazoned across your field of yiSion. Far more successful are works such as Tim Morgan's enVironiiiental intenientions in which the artist uses glass cylinders to facilitate his installations rather than produCing commercially-inspired ‘end-products'. In general. with a few exceptions. the stylistic hallmarks of the slick. over-deSigned glass. furniture and kitchenv-rare of the IIOI/Ii/(PUtI-l'lC/lt) 80s are all too apparent. (Susannah Thoii‘psoiii
VIDEO INSTALLATION HALUK AKAKCE The round room, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 9 Feb .00
The words 'I promise you all things.' ‘believe‘ and ‘the future awaits you' open New York- based Haluk Akakce's six-minute video installation. The Measure Of All Things. Projected onto the curved walls of the gallery's round room. the film transpons the viewer to a computer- generated garden of Eden to Witness the birth of nature. before proceeding to a Virtual room looking out onto a modern cityscape.
Merging the imagined worlds of animation and live action. Akakce takes us on a lialliicinatory JOLirney through Virtual scenarios. A 21 st century metropolis iS metamorphosed into a DNA-like Structure of floating spheres. Liying in a world of infinite poSSibilitieS. Akakce iitiagines the new technology of the internet as ‘the promise-land of today's everyday life'. Representing oiVil:sation as a pregnant female. Akakce expresses Our hopes and desires in a technologically advanced age while Questioning the idea of heedont
The Me sure Of All
Sitting there contemplating the universe. there's something quite uplifting about the piece. but that probably has a lot to do with the incluSion of Tony Bennett crooning ‘Stranger In Paradise'. I can‘t help thinking that Without Tony's velvet- smooth accompaniment. its impact would have been far less.