REVIEW FILM FIONA TAN: TOMORROW Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, until Mon 27 Sep ●●●●●
Tomorrow is a multiracial group portrait of cheerless Swedish adolescents. Lined up, the camera scrolls along their faces: a Muslim girl smokes, boys shy away, couples cling to each other, many slouch with hands in pockets, and most just stare out blankly, albeit self consciously. A large screen plays a close up of their faces, and another smaller screen, suspended in the centre of the bigger one, shows a zoomed out shot. The overall aesthetic impact of the
video installation’s construction is compelling, but the film, made in 2005 – and by definition projecting into the future – is now received by a different audience in another city. Tomorrow has come, five years on these teenagers have become adults, presumably dispersed into the world, though forever immortalised in the film as unique agents within a seemingly specific context. But these are inconsequential particulars. A similar effect could have been achieved by substituting the group with any other assembly of individuals. It is perhaps the assumption that upon reflecting on this group of young people, we ponder how their lives unfolded, but the staging does not make us care either way.
Warhol-style screen tests can be more revealing than static snapshots, but this group situation lacks context – the superimposed second screen anonymises the participants and the silence of the film does not contribute anything either.
Australian-born Fiona Tan has
gained an international reputation with her moving portraits, but Tomorrow translates only superficially to a Glasgow audience. (Talitha Kotzé)
REVIEW SCULPTURE, INSTALLATION JIM LAMBIE: METAL URBAIN The Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Fri 4 Jun ●●●●●
At the wave of a wand, a metal scrapheap has been transmuted into a beautiful burgeoning rose garden. Illuminated by natural light, fluorescent colours dance vibrantly against polished reflective aluminium sheeting. The scene is utopian, yet rooted in facetious chivalry: The Knighthood of the Lambic Urbain is a sexy, jazzy, neo-discothèque decorum where the edges of reality curl away like melting mercury.
Neatly displayed on concrete plinths is a series of suits of knight’s armour, crushed into compact time capsules together with other compressed items such as a cooker, steel trays, brass and copper plates, a coffee table set and belts. On the walls hang layered sheets of brightly painted metal boxes, releasing the scent of fresh glossy enamel. These gorgeously hazardous materials form a garden of sharp edges and Bittersweet Nightshades. This is ‘full fat’ Jim Lambie colour-me-beautiful (with layered nail varnish and glossy shades of eye shadow reflecting in hand-held mirrors), and armed with titles
such as ‘Beggars Banquet (All Knight Long)’, ‘Tonight’s the Knight’, ‘The Knight Shift’ and ‘Knight Light’, they suggest night-time gallantry in the asphalt jungle. It will pull you down the rabbit hole, curiouser and curiouser, emerging on the other side, like the morning after an all-night dance session, invigorated, only you are not allowed to touch the forbidden fruits of the Lambie labour.
At the back end of the gallery all the different
elements come together in ‘Metal Urbain’, an amorphous cluster consisting of a dismembered knight’s armour trapped in slabs of concrete with colourful plates sprouting from every possible opening. A meticulously designed exhibition with all the usual
nods to pop, music, night-life and history, pulled together into a tight vision of pure grand-scale excessiveness.
And if you want to know the cause of this eruption, all will be revealed upstairs, where, neatly propped against the wall, you will find ‘Psychedelic Soul Stick’, a sceptre wrapped in colourful string: the relic of a bygone era responsible for this present-day force of nature. (Talitha Kotzé)
REVIEW DRAWING FIONA MICHIE: DAY IS DONE Art’s Complex, Edinburgh, until Sat 5 June ●●●●●
Fiona Michie’s first solo Scottish show is an eerie delight, incorporating both large and small charcoal and pastel-based drawings depicting women in tandem with nature. Her take on gothic romanticism has developed from initial forays where ivy threatens to overtake the human form, to a happy coexistence.
The stark space complements the work beautifully – indeed, the exhibition is best viewed alone as the white quietness allows the viewer to get lost in the mystery of the drawings. ‘Fix Your Eyes’ is the only piece in which a modern building can be seen, but even this piece brings to mind ghost stories where supernatural eyes watch from an uppermost window. ‘Looking Death in the Eye’, meanwhile, is a sad, poignant tribute to feathered death. The theme of feathers continues in several other works; these relate to Michie’s theme of prevented escape, the desire to fly thwarted. One piece, ‘Flightless’, is placed alone in a room so that the viewer might share a personal experience with the picture.
Day is Done is a well thought out body of work, brilliantly executed and conceptualised. Michie may be her own subject, but in using herself as inspiration she creates a certain distance, giving a little bit of herself away with each mark on the paper. (Miriam Sturdee)
27 May–10 June 2010 THE LIST 97