N E S T R A A H M O T
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REVIEW VIDEO INSTALLATION STANSFIELD/HOOYKAAS: REVEALING THE INVISIBLE CCA, Glasgow, until Sat 29 Jan ●●●●● The time-based work of the late Scottish artist Elsa Stansfield and her Dutch collaborator Madelon Hooykaas oscillates between the terrains of the arts and sciences. In an overview of their practice, spanning three decades, the CCA showcases seminal works by this duo who first met at art school in London in 1966.
Meticulous projections grace the walls of the gallery, using mathematical precision taking in the physical qualities of height and volume, and using clean lines to echo their own compulsive journeying. Movement in their work is always cyclical, because the artists are chiefly concerned with natural phenomena such as the rhythm of the seasons. Similarly, principles of physics such as magnetic fields, the circulation of radio waves and electricity are employed to make observations. Pauses and silences are key to composing cadency for their work. ‘Day for Night IV’ is a circular screen receiving evocative projected imagery and a powerful variation on the familiar square format. Surround sound brings the viewer into acute focus.
Elsewhere a cubed monitor is wrapped in metal sheeting to obscure its moving image, and a blown up print portrays a television screen with indiscernible picture; but it is the radio receiver made out of cut slate rendering it poetically defunct, and the elegiac ‘Song for a Stone’, in which a soundtrack of ocean waves, washing over it, is played back through earphones, that consolidate the show. (Talitha Kotzé)
REVIEW PHOTOGRAPHY & FILM TACITA DEAN The Common Guild, Glasgow, until Sat 5 Feb ●●●●●
In a superbly attractive autumnal exhibition, The Common Guild is showcasing a selection of works by English artist Tacita Dean. Though associated with the generation of YBAs, and once nominated for the Turner Prize, Dean’s practice is of a different class to popularised Hirsts and Emins. Currently residing in Berlin, Dean’s recent work is a splice of German and British cultures. A series of fragile works take as their ‘found’ canvas six 19th century damaged albumen silver prints of bare trees taken by the German photographer, August Kotzsch. Dean has laboriously filled the backgrounds of these photographs with white gouache, incarcerating the deciduous branches forever leafless, highlighting its barren, fruitless beauty.
Although this juxtaposition of painting and photography establishes instant aesthetic sense, ‘Prisoner Pair’, a 16mm film with no sound is projected through – almost imprisoned in – a single sheet of glass, like a painting suspended in mid air. This exquisite still life is a study of two captive pears
preserved in two bottles of alcohol, its matt surface dappling with shadows and vivid painterly textures – as if to quietly render Painting as a genre finally completely obsolete by hanging on to the dying medium of film as the medium makes way for the digital future. Placed side by side to capture their demise in dialogue, the film observes their finest detail and activity as sunlight beams through the glass and then slowly fades over the magnified crustal surface, producing an abstract landscape not unlike that of the remaining work upstairs. There you will find a single large photograph of a
floating stone, entitled Hünengrab II (floating), meaning Megalithic grave, bearing allegorical weight of 19th- century German Romantic landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich’s ‘Hünengrab im Herbst’ (Dolmen in the Fall). Similar to the Kotzsch trees, Dean has painted out the background up to the edge of the stone’s contours, allowing this weighty object, with its surface like a magnified planet, to float effortlessly in pitch-black infinity.
This humble, yet powerfully poetic and cockle- warming exhibition is the perfect antidote to the chilly winter months ahead. (Talitha Kotzé)
REVIEW PHOTOGRAPHY A LITTLE BIT OF MAGIC REALISED Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 29 Jan ●●●●●
‘Cameraless’ photography is one of those seeming contradictions in terms that seems intended to deliberately confuse. However, the curiosity inspired by the theme gives way to wonder as you explore the immediate and vivid world depicted in this exhibition. The viewer is drawn at once to the moving image piece ‘Hermetica’ by Susan Derges, which dances and seethes like an imploding sun, with accompanying soundtrack. Later investigation (chatting with the friendly staff) reveals the source of the image to be a droplet of mercury above a speaker, reacting to the vibrations. The most common theme among these works is the natural world, often recreated using the
technique of ‘dye destruction’. Once again, only by investigation can the technique be explained: the plantlife acts as a coloured transparency through which the light passes, leaving the tones on the photographic paper. Garry Fabian Miller (who also recently exhibited at the Dovecot as part of Sitting and Looking) makes consistent use of the method, exploring greenery both large and small, and there are historical examples by Anna Atkins (1799-1871) one of the pioneers of ‘sun pictures’.
The mantle of show highlight is shared between Fabian Miller’s large-scale digital enlargement ‘The Night Cell’ and Derges’ ‘Full Circle 2’, in which the development of tadpoles to frogs has been carefully captured. For this piece, the night sky was her darkroom, and the paper placed beneath the fledgling amphibians. It could be argued that half of the joy of this show is the wonder of how the works were achieved, but then again, the other half is finding out about the fascinating world depicted. (Miriam Sturdee)
6–20 Jan 2011 THE LIST 81