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REVlEW PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILM ELLIPSIS DCA, Dundee, until Sun 22 Jun 0000.
That these works by three defining female artists form such an easy fit is testament to the expert touch of Lynne Cooke, curator of New York’s Dia Center for the Arts. In terms of style, intention, method and the era they worked in, Francesca Woodman, Chantal Akerman and Lili Dujourie were uncannily similar artists, and Cooke has selected an array of works which are so alike in tone and conception that they could have been created by the same person.
It’s hard to believe this trio never met each other. Dotted across the northern hemisphere they set about challenging ideas of female representation independently. Curiously, the word feminism isn’t mentioned in the accompanying material here, despite the fact that all this work was completed during the 19705, at the height of feminism’s second wave. In omitting the term from the exhibition literature, Cooke cleverly leaves the original context intact while inviting the appraisal of either viewing gender on purely artistic terms.
Woodman - the doomed enfant terrible of American photography who killed herself by jumping from a New
98 THE LIST 22 May—5 .Jun 2008
York loft at the age of 22 - is the first artist we encounter here. Woodman’s story and the (literally) naked vulnerability she displays in her work is now beginning to earn her posthumous crossover idolisation among tragedy junkies. Yet her works are models of strength. She photographs herself naked in a run-down house; in a specimen case alongside stuffed animals; among other nude women wearing masks of her face. There are lots of mirrors in these images too, which suggest she has gone beyond the embarrassment of looking at herself publicly and is inviting us to do the same.
Akerman and Dujourie also appear naked in their art, though their stories feature more humour than Woodman's. The row of 14 video screens showing Dujourie’s film pieces along the floor are still fairly frank, however: she sprawls on a bed, stands nude by a fireplace, poses (occasionally demurely) while clothed. Akerman, meanwhile, appraises her nude body in a mirror while being filmed.
As Cooke informs us she sees echoes of Michelangelo Antonioni’s films, the occasional moments of gratification amid the general purposelessness of life, in each of these artists’ defining of their own identity. That they did so in public is the reason they are mould-breakers. (David Pollock)
REVIEW PAINTING JANICE MCNAB
Doggerfisher, Edinburgh, until Sat 12 Jul 000
In recent years the work of Aberteldy- born, Amsterdarn-based painter Janice McNab has lent itself towards a series she calls her ‘Chocolate Box Paintings'. While that term has developed from describing the original rural idylls with which Richard Cabdury would dress his packaging in the 19th century to now mean any art deemed twee and sentimental. it‘s only the phrase which McNab co-opts for her work.
This selection of paintings attempts to set up a dialogue between the warm. inoffensive art evoked by the title and the stark, futuristic landscapes depicted in the work. The conceptual thrust of McNab's work seems to be a concerted. repeated effort to subvert the meaning of the term 'chocolate box' in relation to art. Her execution is certainly both playful and memorable. These paintings are no more than images of a few plastic inner trays from chocolate boxes. crushed and distorted and painted in fine close-up detail.
There is drama. though. in the angle from which McNab views these objects. as if they were rolling. ridged hills beneath a purple. alien sky or. in one case. an iceberg rising from and mirrored in the sea. These tableaux are trickeries as far as the source materials go. but McNab has recently taken to populating her paintings with tiny figures. thus amplifying their mountainous aspect. This gives the works a sense of perceived drama to balance the essential frivolousness ol the endeavour. all the while cementing the desired reconsideration of the term ‘chocolate box painting‘ in the viewer's mind. (David Pollock)
The Heart of Things
iii". ltw FILM AND PHOTOGRAPHY INSTALLATION
CATHERINE YASS: HIGH WIRE CCA, Glasgow, until Sat 24 May 000
In July 2007 French high wire artist Didier Pasquette attempted to walk between
three of Glasgow‘s Red Road high rise tower blocks. The event turned out to be somewhat anti-climatic with high winds leading Pasguette to abandon his walk after several steps out onto the wire and. terrifyingly. retrace his path. This event forms the basis of this exhibition by Turner Prize-nominated artist Catherine Yass.
The exhibition begins with a series of lightboxes featuring photographic negatives of the tower blocks. with the high wire scratched in. leaving a bright. jagged line. Inevitably. the major piece is the four-screen film installation of the walk itself. showing Pasguette from three angles. along with the view from his l'Iead-mounted camera. While some viewers of the film may be quite terrified by the vertiginous views. its detached presentation makes the walk itself seem surprisingly mundane. and undercuts the extraordinary nature of the act.
The Red Road housing developments status as synonymous with the faIlure of Modernist architectures utopian ideal of good quality. well-designed housing for all. makes it the ideal literal and ideological centre of Yass' project. However. it Is only in the exhibition's resource area that the conflicting passions behind the building (and survival) of the Red Road blocks becomes explicit. and while Pasquette‘s wire walk is incredible. Yass fails to locate the emotion within either the event or the background subject matter. (Liz Shannon)