list.co.uk/visualart PREVIEWS & REVIEWS | VISUAL ART
GROUP EXHIBITION NOW Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One), until Sun 28 April ●●●●●
Incredibly, the National Galleries of Scotland’s three-year series of NOW exhibitions has passed the halfway mark. The ground-breaking shows, each radiating out from a body of work by one contemporary artist to connect to others via themes and commonalities, have never failed to provide surprises and fresh perspectives. The fourth NOW is no exception. The central artist is Monster Chetwynd
and, as with many artists who work principally in performance, it’s unusual to see her work in a public gallery. This is a revelation: props turned into monumental reliefs and sculptures, custom-designed wallpaper, photographs and paintings, as well as film documentation of five performances. Her paintings, from a series called ‘Bat Opera’, are a reminder that however energetic, homespun and spontaneous her work appears, it is underpinned by an exacting aesthetic. Chetwynd’s work manages to be playful, irreverent and unsettling,
splicing together influences from art history and popular culture, and these elements strike common chords with the other artists in the show. Edinburgh-based painter Moyna Flannigan has recently started working in collage, which has opened up fresh avenues of exploration for her. Henry Coombes’ 2009 film ‘The Bedfords’, with a collaged wallpaper made from his drawings and storyboards, paves the way for his anticipated feature-length film on the same subject.
The other artists compound surprise upon surprise. Veteran African- American artist Betye Saar has her debut presentation in Scotland with a 1987 work, ‘Mojotech’, a voodoo-style altar to the power of technology. Egyptian artist Wael Shawky’s ‘The Cabaret Crusades’ creates a re- enactment of the Crusades with marionettes – proof, if any were needed by this point, that you can be playful and deadly serious at the same time. And prints from Goya’s ‘Los Disparates’ series remind us that irreverence was invented long before any of these artists were born. (Susan Mansfield)
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INSTALLATION MARGARET SALMON: HOLE Dundee Contemporary Arts, Sat 8 Dec–Sun 24 Feb
Salmon’s show at DCA will centre on a new 16mm film that ‘uses a female erotic gaze to look for places where love might be found in contemporary life’, as well as incorporating new ideas about sound, light and temperature that follow on from her recent survey show at Tramway in February. For the past few years, Salmon has been making single-screen works that convey a curious sensation that time has slowed down to match the ordinary, everyday rhythms lived out by the people she observes. According to Salmon, ‘what you see is what I see’ since everything she’s made has been facilitated by her body holding the camera. Her subjects seem unaware or unfazed by her presence, allowing her to present subtle relationships unfolding between people, places and situations as though they are taking place in real- time outside the celluloid frame. Stretches of waiting are punctuated by moments of activity or intimacy, reflecting the mundane but universally recognisable experiences that make up life.
Salmon has also been shortlisted for this year’s Jarman Award, and will take part in an associated screening and discussion at DCA on Mon 29 Oct. (Jessica Ramm)
1 Nov 2018–31 Jan 2019 THE LIST 133 1 Nov 2018–31 Jan 2019 THE LIST 133
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MIXED MEDIA EMMA HART: BANGER Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, until 3 Feb DOCUMENTARY FICTION LUCY BEECH: REPRODUCTIVE EXILE Tramway, Glasgow, Sat 1 Dec–Sun 27 Jan
An artist who titles her works things like ‘Mamma Mia!’ and ‘Suckerz’ would seem to have an ear for the subversive, and Emma Hart doesn’t disappoint with BANGER, her first show in Scotland, opening at the Fruitmarket just in time for Bonfire Night.
London-based Hart, the most recent winner of the biennial Max Mara Art Prize for Women, often makes work which is ‘badly behaved and messy, challenging assumptions and stereotypes in her quest to make art to which everyone can relate.’ Hart initially studied photography, but now works in a range of media including ceramics, where she relishes the handmade aspects while subverting the medium with customary panache. One of the works coming to the Fruitmarket is ‘Mamma Mia!’, made in response to a residency in Italy funded by the Max Mara Prize on which she studied ceramic techniques, as well as spending time observing the work at a special family therapy clinic in Milan.
Drawing on aspects of both, she has made ‘families’ of giant ceramic heads, lit from inside and colourfully painted with ‘modern hieroglyphics’. Work made since focuses on the car and how we use it to shape and navigate the world. That might be a clue to the title. But I think we can still expect to be surprised. (Susan Mansfield)
Lucy Beech takes real-life scenarios and subtly twists them to wring out anxiety in many aesthetically appealing forms. Her films often centre around groups of women and present relationships that feel disconcertingly slippery; women’s relationships to their bodies, to each other, to corporations that have similar rights to human bodies but no flesh or vulnerability. In previous films such as Cannibals (2013), she
deals with consumption, using food as a lavish tactile metaphor for the feminine body, and in Pharmakon (2016), a seductive marketing ploy evokes an evasive desire for health, vitality, fertility – it’s not clear exactly what, only that its persuasive delivery by a corporate- sounding actress seems pernicious and evasive in equal measure. Beech’s latest film, Reproductive Exile, on the theme of trans-national assisted conception, extends this exploration. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, ‘the time has come to rethink the language of reproductive tourism and to replace it with a new vocabulary’ that captures ‘the considerable travails encountered in the global quest for conception.’ With adverts for fertility fairs now visible across London’s tube network, coinciding with Frieze, the international contemporary art fair, there is no better time to examine the outsourcing of human fertility. (Jessica Ramm)