REVIEW PHOTOGRAPHY & NEW MEDIA THE CITY AND THE STARS Stills, Edinburgh, until Sun 18 Jul ●●●●●
The City and the Stars, which introduces Stills’ new Film Lounge programme, successfully combines photography, moving image and sculptural installation in a way that delights the senses. Rut Blees Luxemburg’s large-scale images of the urban landscape entice the viewer with the warmth of the evening sun on a wall, or the glorious reflection of stained glass within a font (the wittily entitled ‘Faith in Infrastructure’), though the small space only allows the viewer a few glimpses into his world, and perhaps some accompanying explanation would also assist in making sense of the chosen works.
Nestled quietly in the central space are Craig Mulholland’s freestanding oratory instruments taken from his Grandes et Petites Machines series. These beautifully constructed pieces are delightful to look at, even if their meaning and purpose is as enigmatic as the photographs surrounding them.
The crowning glory is the Film Lounge
itself, which proudly displays Emma Kay’s ‘From Memory’ duo – ‘The World From Memory IV’, a map of the world drawn without reference (and instantly recognisable despite its flaws), and ‘The Future From Memory’ – a 90- minute monolith of ideas and stories that fly past in the style of a Star Wars film intro. This may be an unreliable future based on the ‘human computer’ within Kay, but it is as compelling as a blockbuster movie or sci-fi epic. While Kay employs humour to challenge our fragmented memories, her work also emphasises that the possibilities held within the next few hundred years are endless. (Miriam Sturdee)
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PREVIEW SCULPTURE, PHOTOGRAPHY, VIDEO JIMMIE DURHAM: UNIVERSAL MINIATURE GOLF (THE PROMISED LAND) Glasgow Sculpture Studios, until Sat 4 Sep ●●●●●
American sculptor, Jimmie Durham, is concerned with the politics of materials and deliberately works in a craft-like way at a time when it is seen as unsophisticated, folky and crude to make things by hand. He responds to his location by collecting raw materials and uncovering histories in an attempt to make links to the grand themes in his own practice. The exhibition consists of facts and findings written by hand, sculptures crafted from found objects, petrol barrels oozing a paint-like substance, archival images, stories, comics and a photograph of the artist wrapped in a quilt armed with a golf club as ‘Self-portrait with Traditional Scottish Kwilt’.
Beautifully crafted wooden golf clubs feature throughout the show, partly acknowledging the loss of homes to golfing estates in Scotland, and partly referencing the bead-decorated weapons made from golf clubs by Mohawk warrior and artist Joe David. David was a leader of the Mohawk resistance against the Canadian government’s proposal for a nine-hole
golf course on a Mohawk burial ground in 1990. Durham, himself involved with the American Indian Movement, has written a memorial to David by using the Amerindian aesthetic in a Western context. Parallels are drawn to the Highland clearances, but
also to the Scottish settlers who, in the 1600s, lived amongst the Cherokee, Creeks and Choctaws in the South East of the US; only to be forcibly removed in the 1830s by US officials, among them Scots, in a poetic culmination of Scots fighting Scots.
In the video ‘Smashing’, the artist smashes various objects with a stone. He then produces a certificate, stamps and signs it and awaits the next object. His most effective sculpture is a memorial to ‘people who are dead and those who will be dead’. Taking the shape of an animal with antlers and a golf club leg, this totem object contains name tags of folk that Durham met in Glasgow during his three-month production residency.
Durham’s exhibition conveys a hyper awareness of the material world and uses the performative as a counteraction to a visual culture that is often wrongly conceived as dominated by the conceptual. (Talitha Kotzé)
REVIEW PAINTINGS PIONEERING PAINTERS: THE GLASGOW BOYS 1880–1900 Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, until Mon 27 Sep ●●●●●
The Glasgow Boys were a pioneering group of the late 1800s, consisting of both Scottish and international artists. Their work is put under scrutiny in a major new retrospective exhibition. It is not so much the story of the Glasgow Boys, their influences and legacy that is intriguing, but the fact that they produced such technically well-executed works of art – the breadth of their palettes and the realist attempt of their subject matter provide delectable viewing.
The group looked at global trends and was particularly influenced by French oil painter Jules Bastien-Lepage’s square brushstrokes and affinity for painting everyday scenes. But perhaps a more appropriate hero – if you consider how the Scottish light conditions differ from the formulaic palettes of their French contemporaries – was James McNeill Whistler: his grasp of handling twilight was paramount.
‘A Joiner’s Shop’ by William York Macgregor was commissioned by the owner in 1881: wood shavings fill the space, giving a boldly handled impressionist rendition of a joiner’s workshop on Argyle Street. These types of paintings that show the commercial life of the city are rare in the Boys’ oeuvre. A narrative thread guides the viewer through the seminal moments of the group’s development, their Japanese and Symbolist influences, and travels abroad. Towards the end of the exhibition you will encounter a work by James Paterson, ‘Autumn in Glencairn’. An incredibly powerful and atmospheric depiction of the Caledonian landscape with colours so true to its unique light. Pioneering Painters is well worth a visit. (Talitha Kotzé)
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t h g i r y p o C 13–27 May 2010 THE LIST 89