OUROBOROS: THE MUSIC OF SPHERES
CCA, Glasgow, Sat 7 Feb-Sun 4 Apr
Group shows with distinct themes can often be unconvincing affairs, with work shoe-horned in to fit the curatorial remit. Ouroboros: Music of the Spheres is something different, a show that has grown organically, with shifting themes suggested by the work.
‘I wanted to do something at the CCA that had some local resonance,’ explains curator
John Calcutt. ‘At first I thought about doing one of these art-meets- music shows, because a lot of artists I know in Glasgow are doing that kind of work. That original idea was modified over time, as I found that I could relate this kind of work to wider things.’
The Ouroboros of the show’s title - the image of a snake swallowing its own tail, representing the cycle of death and rebirth - and the allied Pythagorean concept of the music of the spheres and universal harmony are clues to the relationships Calcutt uncovered between the works selected for the exhibition. The formal relationship between the square and the circle in art is carried over to music production, with its round discs in square sleeves, linking domestic objects to art objects, and both to ideas on a cosmic scale.
PAINTING JANICE MCNAB Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 21 Feb 0000
In the late 90$ Janice McNab tapped into the prevailing pre- millennial anxiety and caused a stir with paintings about people allergic to the 20th century. In this new exhibition she again puts her finger on the pulse. In Chairs. McNab borrows aeroplane seats from a TV props cupboard. Her brushwork conjures up the pattern and sheen of synthetic upholstery. recalling a time when air travel was glamorous. But this is post 9/1 I. Concorde has been decommissioned and the Columbia space shuttle has fallen out of the sky. These aeroplane seats slump and lean like extras from a disaster movie.
In the series Tanks McNab paints sensory deprivation tanks. They come in prosthetic pink and baby blue. Although they are called Meadow. River and Mountain. they look like Robin Reliants that have had their doors and windows sealed shut making their promise of escape from the stresses of modern life seem dubious. McNab makes paintings by copying photographs' flattened perspective. blur. bleached flash and all. Her painstaking translation of a medium which can be mass- produced into something handmade seems obsessive and pointless in an age of instant gratification but then that is the point. Essentially her work is about the souring of dreams of social and technological progress. (Kate Tregaskis)
90 THE LIST 5—-19 Feb 2004
This translates to Jim Lambie returning to work with turntables, alongside Robert Smithson’s huge earthwork Spiral Jetty, or Roger Ackland’s tiny burnt discs of found wood presented next to recent GSA most of the strengths of the group MFA graduate Steven Renshaw’s focus on the fragility of vinyl. As well as allowing connections between the works to reveal themselves, Calcutt sought to broaden his scope beyond the initial are lots of circles, squares and focus on Glasgow.
‘I was quite conscious of establishing a range, of trying to situate the stuff being made here in the city in a wider context,’ he says. minds.’ (Jack Mottram)
Tectonic Plates by Calum Stirling
‘I wanted locally-based artists, along with international artists, and artists at various stages of their careers.’
Ouroboros looks set to make the
show format, avoiding the potential pitfalls by allowing the work to develop the theme. ‘What I’m hoping,’ Calcutt says, ‘is that the formal aspect, the fact that there
spirals in the show, will be pretty clear, and that visual congruence between things should spark broader connections in people’s
VIDEO INSTALLATION BILL VIOLA
National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, until Sun 7 Mar .00.
The continuum of emotion is at the core of Bill Viola's The Passions. three video installations that explore how penance and contemplation are not just a journey into the self but also inextricably linked to time. Whether it is the length of a day. the successive generations of a family or a voyage of rebirth, Viola reveals that emotion is a never- ending process of repetition.
In Catherine '3 Room we follow one woman through her day in a spartan cell-like room while outside the seasons change. At times the subject is so still. almost freeze- framed that the image becomes like a painting. It is in these moments that Viola manages to create beautiful images of quiet reflection. In Four Hands Viola has videoed four generations of hands from the smooth-skinned grandson to the translucent. veined skin of the grandmother. Eventually the hand movements come to represent motions of piety and contemplation; it's as though Viola has captured one person's lifetime of contrition and prayer.
If these two installations are reflection and prayer then Surrender is absolution. Two liquid reflections. one a man. the other a woman, appear to swallow reality as the subjects duck into the water. Initially the distortion is the same as a circus mirror but then the increasingly violent ripples reveal souls in torment. This is Viola's version of baptism where the water, like a bleaching agent. cleanses the soul. All three installations produce tantali7ing images that compel, relax and slightly disturb just as real soul- searching should. (Isabella Weir)
MIXED MEDIA ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY? Collins Gallery, Glasgow, until Sat 14 Feb 00
Are You Sitting Comfortably? dOCuments the work of fourteen artists who took up residency at the AB Gustav Sanitaryware factory in Stockholm. This might be a nod to Duchamp. but there's not even a whiff of a urinal here. inverted or otherwise.
Instead. the humble WC takes centre stage. Most striking is the work of Hanne Heuch and Maja Sandstrom. Both have cast forms from the bowls. cisterns and plumbing of the toilet. ranging from abstract lumps and sinuous forms to rather graceful. symmetrical studies in porcelain. Most. however. have opted to simply customise a few thrones. Sight gags are to the fore. with the likes of Eva Hild making a lacy loo full of holes. or Paul Scott putting a plague of bluebottles in the bowl.
'0 ., O
Work by Eva Hild
There's a surprising lack of hum0ur. th0ugh. with no one brave enOUQh to take a swim in scatological waters. and much that is. well. bog- standard graphic work that just happens to be applied to a bog. Mary Jo Bole. meanwhile. takes a political tack. documenting the history of penal conditions on a prison sink. making much of the fact that its rather beautiful design has a sinister backsIOry. designed to be impervious to efforts to turn it into an improvised weapon.
It is a shame. though, that in taking its inspiration from Duchamp and his 1917 Fountain. this show does little. bar providing further ammunition for those cynics who suspect that this sort of thing is a load of crap.