‘AN EXHIBITION IS PART OF A TOOLBOX FOR ME’ Hitlist THE BEST EXHIBITIONS *
✽✽ Christoph Buchel: Last Man Out Turn Off Lights Rousing and challenging work with a blown-up plane at its heart. Not to be missed. Tramway, Glasgow, until Sun 18 Jul. ✽✽ Jimmie Durham: Universal Miniature Golf The renowned American sculptor responds to the histories and politics of his found materials to create a fascinating exhibition. See review, page 89. Glasgow Sculpture Studios, until Sat 4 Sep. ✽✽ Sean Scully: Iona The eminent painter has created work inspired by the Iona landscape. Reviewed next issue. Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 19 Jun. ✽✽ Confrontation New series at the National Galleries in which paintings are paired for comparison. National Galleries, Edinburgh, until Sun 18 Jul. ✽✽ Pioneering Painters: The Glasgow Boys 1880–1900 Major new retrospective exhibition focusing on the pioneering Scottish and international artists of the late 1800s. See review, page 89. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, until Mon 27 Sep. ✽✽ Jupiter Artland Year Two The second outing for the contemporary sculpture park, which features commissions from well-known artists such as Laura Ford, Andy Goldsworthy, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Peter Liversidge. Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh, Fri 14 May–Sun 27 Jun. ✽✽ Johan Grimonprez Belgian artist Grimonprez’s film ‘Double Take’ charts a world in flux through the work and persona of Alfred Hitchcock. See preview, left. Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 22 May–Sun 11 Jul.
Johan Grimonprez’s first major British exhibition showcases work exploring Gothic doubling, the doppelganger and coincidence, as Liz Shannon discovers
Although it has previously been shown in cinemas, Fruitmarket has still executed something of a coup in becoming the first British gallery to exhibit Johan Grimonprez’s latest work, ‘Double Take’. Its origins can be found in the artist’s best-known film, ‘Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y’, nominally a cultural history of airplane hijacking that is now often noted for its apparent ‘prediction’ of terrorist tactics on 9/11, which will be exhibited alongside two earlier works. The roots of ‘Double Take’ can also be located in ‘Looking for Alfred’, which explores notions of doubling, the doppelganger and uncanny coincidence.
While searching for an Alfred Hitchcock lookalike for a film role, Grimonprez met Ron Burrage. ‘Burrage eerily resembles Hitchcock in profile. Then all these coincidences fell into place. They were both born on the same day. Burrage used to work at Claridge’s, where Hitchcock used to stay, and went on to work as a waiter at The Savoy, Hitchcock’s favourite restaurant, where he would serve Cary Grant, James Stewart – all the actors that Hitchcock used to work with. All of these upside-down things seemed an interesting story to make a film about.’ Like ‘Looking for Alfred’, ‘Double Take’ revolves around Hitchcock and is constructed from a mixture of film, television and documentary footage. Fact and fiction merge, with doubling again emerging as a significant theme. Grimonprez is intensely conscious of historical shifts, particularly in politics and technology, and this is also reflected in his work. ‘“Double Take” deals with a history of the early 60s,
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the early rise of television and how fear has become commodified and has fed into the theatrics of politics, which has played out over television.’ The figure of Hitchcock and the artist’s use of doppelgangers are also significant. ‘I wanted to use the lookalike as a metaphor for how we end up with lookalike politics,’ says Grimonprez. ‘That whole Cold War paranoia reflects what is going on today.’ ‘Double Take’ is based on a story by Jorge Luis Borges, whose narrative was adapted for the film by the British novelist and artist Tom McCarthy. A second series of fortuitous, if lesser, coincidences accompanied the origins of this collaboration. ‘Together we came up with the idea of adapting the Borges story,’ says Grimonprez, ‘and later on that became part of “Double Take”. I wanted to work with a fiction writer, and he was a very good choice. Tom said: “I was inspired by ‘Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y’ to write my novel Remainder”, and when I began working on ‘Double Take’ I had read Remainder, so that kind of inspired the film. It went back and forth: his work informed mine while ‘Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y’ informed his. There was an affinity.’
Grimonprez considers film to be just one aspect of his practice. ‘An exhibition is part of a toolbox for me. A film is part of it, a book, an installation, curating, teaching. For me, every work and every narrative has to find its own format: it’s not narrowed down to being a filmmaker, it’s all part of the practice.’
Johan Grimonprez, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 22 May–Sun 11 Jul.