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Visual Art




Corn Exchange Gallery, Edinburgh, until Thu 4 Jun 0...

Those who have been through art college or a creative visual media course might have experienced the collage test at some point: the challenge being to use found images to create a composite with some kind of combined visual meaning. The aim is to instil a knowledge of the visual ‘grammar’ required to compose an image, and probably also to demonstrate that saying what you want within one frame isn’t as easy as it looks.

Tobias Sternberg, a Swedish sculptor, filmmaker, Goldsmiths' graduate and alumnus of the Corn Exchange, has recently branched out into collage, specifically photomontage, and the results are displayed for the first time here. Striding confidently across the fine line between montage as amateur play and artistic practice, they're wonderful.

By revisiting recurring motifs and revelling in an iconoclastic sense of humour, Steinberg creates a whole world. There’s an air of dark fantasy throughout, as he delicately places what are generally quite dull magazine-trimmed pictures together to create new visions.

‘Lions of Mars’ features an astronaut and a turtle riding a lion across the desert, while ‘The Same Way’ depicts a Bedouin driving a herd of camels and penguins through a desert - a constant, dramatic setting here - towards a Persian palace and an ice mountain on the horizon. He lamboons Christian iconography in ‘Gates of Heaven' and seems to suggest humanity is a child amid the scientific universe in the striking ‘Young Gods’. Other pieces, such as a group of divers leaping enthusiastically from the spires of the Golden Gate Bridge towards the tarmac below, are successful exercises in pitch black humour.

Steinberg quotes influence from Man Ray and Salvador Dali, and it would be interesting to know if a surrealist’s automatistic approach helped give birth to these images, such is their dream-like quality. His interest in using reclaimed materials is also evident in ‘Seven Sins for the Living’, an old bureau converted into an interactive guide to the Seven Deadly Sins, and ‘Spirit Chair’, a wooden chair sanded down into a beautifully formalist skeleton of itself, but the sense of hallucinatory narrative between his collage pieces lingers longest. (David Pollock)

lil vii w PHOTOGRAPHY FRANCESCA WOODMAN lngleby Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 13 Jun 0000

Francesca Woodman created a remarkable body of work in her short life (she committed SUICIde in 1981 at the age of 22). some of which can currently be seen at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art‘s Artist Rooms. This beautifully presented showcase of 27 silver gelatine prints offers a broad perspective on her work as the missing link between the calligraphic emotional reality of Ralph Eugene Meatyard. and the more obvious modern comparisons of Cindy Sherman and Richard Price.

Following a rough chronology from 1972 to 1980. the exhibition opens. appropriately, with an untitled photograph of Woodman passing through a gravestone. Self-portrait and psychosis are touchstones in much of what follows.

“Self Portrait Talking to Vince‘ is rawer Woodman, mad-eyed and alone engages with someone off frame. a curtain tie in her mouth like some self- medicating Hannibal Lecter. As her place of creation changes from America to Europe darkness descends. the apogee of which is her 'Self Deceit' series, in which the naked Woodman shields behind a mirror in a paint~peeled room.

The series recalls Joseph Beuy's feral anthroposophist 1974 installation ‘I Like America and America Likes Me' in all its beastly terror. Humour seeps through in the final photographs. One suggests that had she lived she may have spent her days posting LP Face images on Flickr to keep the black dog at bay. (Paul Dale)

96 THE LIST 28 May—t 1 Jun 2009


LEST BOGLES CATCH HIM UNAWARES: ELPH VERSUS ROBERT BURNS Henderson Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 6 Jun 000

Back-street dives In concrete iungles have long been the preserxe of graffit air. where sprayed—on masterpieces can liven up the bree/eblotk one ila,, oriI, ti be whitewashed over the next. Such. alas. is the ephemeral, fly by night naturi- of the pop Cultural condition. Just ask Banksy. Better still. ask l lph. l llllllllll'lll“. premiere spray-can auteur of some 20 years standing, who here rrirlvie‘, llil it ir', to a Suitably off-the-beaten—track locale. for the visual egirivalerit of an tirinirr sound—clash between himself and Scotland's national hard.

The reth is a series of comic-book extrapolations of archetypes lll‘;l)lf‘:‘l t,, the great man's finest works. While two walls concentrate on srrialler filf:(,f.“,_ the other two are given over to a tableaux of large—scale canvases taken llhlll 'l.rrii O'Shanter' which, while able to stand alone. together make up a giant lliillilll‘.’t: frieze. As the action spills Out of the frame and onto the wall wrth the fit and she knows-it Cutty Sark giving Tam's mare Meg a kick round the corner, lllll‘, elriifirig a speech-bubbled 'Ooyah!,' the wall becomes more rlrorarria than backdrop,

While Burns has been much iii-racked by law parochialists in kilti, for llll') ,«ear so-called Homecoming. here. as wrth dub reggae guru Adrian Sherwood and artist Graham Fagen's reclamation, not to mention the irieeting of rriirirls bet .veeri Burns and Iggy Pop in punk show-band The Burn Clocks. he's frankly a bit of a dude. (Neil COODGI')