BALTHASAR BURKHARD Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 13 Dec-Sun 8 Feb
Imperious hulks reaching up to touch the sky; ancient glacial forms majestic, silent and lonely. This is the landscape that Swiss-born photographer Balthasar Burkhard knows. It is the challenge and inspiration for every resident of the landlocked country; as much a part of their psyche as the sea is to our little island. And so for the photographer whose work has taken him and his lens to heights above urban metropolises such as Mexico City, Chicago and Paris, and to within the sprawl of Amazonian jungle, it is fitting that, for his final epic work, he has come home and taken on the land that has shaped him.
‘l’m Swiss and we are surrounded by mountains,’
says Burkhard. ‘In most work by Swiss artists somewhere the mountains come in because we have to deal with them - they’re here. And some day we have to do something with it. There is a power - you don’t know it, you want to know it, you have to live with it. It’s something physical.’
And what Burkhard has done is to place himself right within it, at its source. The photographs on show in this exhibition were taken from a helicopter and from the ground 3km up where clouds drift against snow. Printed on a scale to match their subject, the black and white pictures reach proportions of 3m long. You could almost be among them, feeling the cold winds and hearing the silence.
‘If you’re up there in the glaciers, the force of nature is awesome. You’re alone there. The helicopter’s gone,’ says Burkhard.
Mountains (Bernina) 2003
Part of his aim is to simply record and relay this feeling with the clarity demanded of such landscape. Rock, ice, air — the elements are there in their purity, the earth reduced to its basic composites, its starkness and grandeur needing no embellishment.
‘If possible I’m really trying to do it without anything interrupting or adding or taking away. This photography is done how I feel things and how I see things, so there are no tricks. It’s just how I see it; how it is,’ he says.
But the works’ inevitably strong tonal contrasts with black rock and white snow have inescapably abstract qualities with the forms taking on a force beyond themselves. It is possibly what Burkhard is getting at when he talks about the unknown power. For all the tangible physicality you just can’t pin it down. So just stand and stare. (Ruth Hedges)
Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, until Sun 11 Jan 0...
Work by Hannah Hoch (1929)
It was all Very well. back in 1999. for DCA to claim it had kick- started a cultural revolution in Dundee. But sustaining the energy beyond the honeymoon period? Impossible. Or rather. almost lmDOSSlblG. because sustaining that energy is exactly what DCA has managed to do. Not only has it created a new centre of graVity for art. but it has also generated a Vibrant exhibitions programme With the power to turn heads internationally. Four years after DCA launched. and its latest show. Plunder. is right up there among its best exhibitions yet.
A group exhibition based around the idea of collage. Plunder is DCA's first concerted attempt to look back into art histOry. Taking a broad definitiOn of collage. the show includes Cut and paste tactics from film, sound and digital media. as well as more familiar paper-based collage works. It kicks off With a 1921 collage by Kurt Schwitters. and then romps through seine memorable collage work of later decades. Highlights include Jamie Reid's iconic Sex Pistols record sleeves. brutally-edited pop Videos by Candice Breitz. and Joao Onofre's hilarious recreation of Kraftwerk's Synthesizer riffs using the veices of an a cape/la choir.
In fact. there's a distinctly musical air about the proceedings. especially since Christian Marclay's rec0rd sleeve collages are a repeating motif. And by the end there's a momentary urge to Cry 'you'Ve gone too farf'. when the exhibitiOn allows itself to stray
into graphic de3ign With a display
of Peter SaVille's best New Order record sleeves. Poor Pete. legendary deSigner and arch- plunderer that he may be. his work can't quite live up to the art around him. And ultimately that's a tribute to the quality of the rest of the show. lNick Barleyl
104 THE LIST 11 Dec 9003 -8 .Jan 200.:
MIXED MEDIA DANIEL BELL/PIOTR JANAS Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, until Sat 20 Dec 000
ROughly speaking. this two-hander at Transmission is all about the human body Daniel Bell's fascmation With anatomy is a feverish one. and his twm constructi0ns here seem to be lifted from a particularly lurid nightmare. There are rough-hewn approximations of body parts littered about the gallery. from unspeakable little giobs of gristle to great big haunches stripped of skin.
These unidentifiable Organs are connected by a terry-rigged system of plastic piping. paper bellows and gaffer-taped wooden frames that emits an automatic. asthmatic whee/e. This is an odd sort of medical fetishism. one that speaks more of backstreet clinics and botched Surgery than the meticulous workings of a hospital ward. It remains unclear whether the machine is keeping the fleshy offCLits alive. or if it is a protoplasm-powerer‘l experiment. Either way. it's a genuinely unnerVing assemblage. schlocky enough to pass for props for the latest Troma splatterfest. yet too conVincingly aliVe to be laughed off.
If Bell goes straight for the jugular With a home-made knife. Piotr Janas has the subtlety of a poisoner. His large canvases are full of dark red drips and preCisely delineated organic shapes. but there is nothing explicit about them. Were it not for their immediate proxmiity to Bell's fleshy freak out. these rather delicate paintings might merely hint at something Visceral. Here. they look like the aftermath of some unspeakal.)le event. with carto0nish guts plopped onto the canvas. clashing \Vith preCise lines of the sort a scalpel makes on skin. As a result. the show is greater than the sum of its parts. .Janas' insinuation of an internal examination works in tandem With Bell's brutal infirmary for offcuts. lending it a certain subtlety. and this cuts both ways. with the paintings' more bloody attributes foregrounded by association.
Not a show for the squeamish. then. but one that brings new meaning to the adage that it's what's inside that celints. (Jack Mottrami
Not a show for the squeamish