CINDY SHERMAN National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, until 7 Mar 00..
When the elusive Cindy Sherman appeared as the cover star for The
VISUAL ARTS SCOTLAND ANNUAL
Royal Scottish Academy Building, Edinburgh, until Wed 21
Hoping to attract passing trade from the Degas exhibition. the annual Visual Arts Scotland show is a rather busy collection that might have benefited from a little paring down. although there are many interesting pieces to be found. The sculpture hall is particularly strong and features an intriguing Rag and Bone Man clock by Eduard Bersudsky. which is full of his trademark figurines and amusing detail. Another invited artist is Shona Kinloch. who has a single piece on display: a group of lovely. plump seagulls entitled East Coast Holiday. These are very similar to her pigeons that Sit at the top of Edinburgh's Elm Row and share the same pleasing shape and slightly
The exhibition. which sits opposite a comparable show by the SOCiety of Scottish Artists. also includes some beautiful jewellery by Edinburgh College of Art graduates and striking landscape paintings by Colin Black. Robert McAulay and Pain Carter. But somehow. the collection never coheres and where this is most clearly demonstrated is in the incIUSion of a series of lithographs by Nelson Mandela. created during his imprisonment on Robben Island. The images are quite striking: simple yet fluid shapes filled in with bright. often primary colours that seem to pay testament to his incredible strength and optimism. And yet. such unique works of art and history
Sunday Herald magazine recently, the myth that surrounds her exploded. So that’s what she really looks like. Notorious for shying away from the camera unless in disguise, true to form, she was no where to be seen at the press view. But at the private view, she signed books, chatted to people who had the courage to go and speak to her, while everyone else stood and stared, albeit surreptitiously. In the flesh, she looked different yet again.
And this is Sherman’s great talent. In a career spanning 30 years, her ability to change her appearance and inhabit a character is uncanny. One striking example is Untitled A, B, C and D of four, black and white, passport style snaps. They were created in 1975 while Sherman was still at college, and she uses simple make-up and facial expressions to transform herself into four completely different people - three female and one male. D is coy, C is serious and 8 looks awkward.
In murder mystery people (1976/2000) she photographs
are shoe-horned in next to countless others (although
complemented by a set of sculptures by fellow inmate. Keith Calder). so that it easy for their impact to be lost among the
crowd. (Rachael Street)
From a series of lithographs by Nelson Mandela
herself in the guise of a cast of characters: the butler, the dashing lead man, the detective and the drunken wife and so on. Similarly, in the much acclaimed Untitled Film Stills from the mid 705, the images range from a martini-swilling moll to a repressed housewife. Sherman’s great ability is to instinctively tap into and reﬂect the archetypal stereotypes created by the media.
From her early works, the exhibition move onto her colour works from the 805, the stunning history portraits, the studio-style portraits of society women of ‘a certain age’ - bouffant hair and manicured nails - and her newest series of clowns. There is something quite irresistible about all her works, and their magnetism holds firm. Reliant on the viewer’s power of imagination, she somehow seduces us into filling in the story, questioning what we are seeing or merely wondering how on earth she can look so different in every single image.
Blythwood Street by night
LOUISE CRAWFORD AND STEPHAN
Street Level, Glasgow, until Sat 31 Jan 0
Louise Crawford and Stephan Gueneau have collaborated since the early 908. initially using film. and now moving
toward photography. The images gathered here capture Paris and Glasgow by night. recording unremarkable.
These construction sites. multi-storey car parks and street corners are largely interchangeable. Street furniture. signage or the odd splash of graffiti might give away the location. but Crawford and Gueneau push detail into the background. foregrounding their technique. Soft light is allowed to bleed from neon signs and streetlights. long exposures capture the thin trails of light left behind by moving cars. and each image appears artfully lit.
For all their preoccupation with light. the images are rather dull. Not expectantly dull. like the anonymous landscapes in a Ballard novel awaiting a new perversion. nor thoughtfully dull. heavy with some comment on the collapse of national identity in the face of rapacious urbanisation. They're just dull. It might be those recurring light-trails. the hackneyed staple of stock photography but there is something lacking.
namely meaning. These are pretty pictures. just don't
expect them to speak to yOu. (Jack Mottram)
DAVID SHERRY Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, until Sun 15 Feb 0..
David Sherry's stock-in- trade is the small impediment to the smooth running of life. In the past. he's carried a bucket of water about for a week. and sewed balsa wood slats to the soles of his feet. This time. he's been hanging around in shops close to closing time. outstaying his welcome.
These actions are documented with brief texts. maps and floor-plans. sometimes with a playful hyperbole — ‘he moved closer and spoke like God' — mostly in flat. weary prose. The sad adventures of a headless man are recorded too. A series of photographs show the decapitated fellow in gooey detail. lying in a car park. On video. viewed on a screen framed by a makeshift cardboard amphitheatre. he stumbles about hopelessly to the strains of Willie Nelson singing You Were Always on My Mind. Finally. Romulus and Remos [sic] sees two blokes eat SOLip and listlessly watch TV amid the detritus of a night in on the sauce — mythological heroes reduced to the level of bored students. Or vice versa.
As with past work. Sherry is engaged in an odd game of triple-dare. Look once. and these are daft. flighty little works. look again and Sherry's inherently trivial adjustments to the daily routine speak genuinely of his need to investigate the minutiae of life. The third twist comes with the pervasive mock-serious tone — a precise graph here. a ponentous phrase there — which makes the viewer unsure as to whether he is the mark in Sherry's con game. or complicit in the work's inbuilt challenge to itself.
As scruffy as Sherry's work appears. it is incredibly precise in this self-reflexive second guessing of the viewer's response. making it as much about the process of experiencing and responding to art as it is a record of the artist's small performances.
ti 1)? Jan 2004 THE LIST 75