Skip to main content

Robert Rauschenberg – Botanical Vaudeville

Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh until October 2nd
4 stars
Inverleith House has long carved a niche for itself as a champion of
late twentieth century American icons, and for the gallery's British
Art Show contribution has gathered up a grab-bag of thirty-seven works
made between 1982 and 1998 by Abstract Expressionism's original
skip-diving grease monkey. This late-period collection is a
fast-moving mixture of shine-buffed collages and rust-laden sculptural
detritus, as if junkyard and garage had been stripped bare after some
Ballardian multiple pile-up on the freeway, then the component parts
put back together again on some customised Frankenstein's dragstrip as
ornamental signposts forever in motion.

Twisted road-signs are heaped together, connecting up neighbourhoods
and no-go areas that one would only normally be just passing through. A
giant pig is draped in neck-ties. A windmill made of metal strips
dominates one room as if oil was just a hidden drill away. On the
walls, mirror images on bronze and brass dazzle like cut-up
wall-hangings at some post-modern diner that should be soundtracked by
some Link Wray twang on the big-fendered car stereo as its boy-racer
occupants go cruising up the strip, so steeped in suggestions of
blue-collar teen romance are they.

With the wall-pieces rounded up from the 'Shiner' and 'Borealis' series
of works, and the more sculptural constructions from 'Kabal American
Zephyr' and 'Gluts', it all adds up to some sharp-edged reimagining of
the American dream with bent out of shape street signs on a mashed-up
grid system where playing in traffic is suddenly safe as houses. In the
sunlit quietude of Inverleith House, this transforms into a Zenned-out
road movie that surfs silently through the ether rather than causes any
kind of congestion.

Rauschenberg's death in 2008 may have robbed us of the world's foremost
architect of reimagined urban arcana, but as 'Botanical Vaudeville'
proves, even a decade before, the road he travelled was as expansively
of the moment as ever. The show's couldn't-be-better title piece sums
it up. This is work as play, a post-industrial dance on gleaming
surfaces that sparkles before zooming into the ether.

The List, August 2011

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Bdy_Prts

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Saturday December 2nd


It should probably come as no surprise that professional dancers are in the audience for the Edinburgh leg of this mini tour by spectral performance art/pop auteurs Bdy_Prts on the back of the release of their sublime debut album, The Invisible Hero. Beyond the music, the raison d’etre of Bdy_Prts’ dynamic duo of Jill O'Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, after all, is a flamboyantly costumed display of kinetic physical jerks and modernist shape-throwing to illustrate a set of fizzing machine-age chorales.

In this sense, the Bdy_Prts live experience is several works of art for the price of one that's a long way from the pair's formative work fronting Sparrow and the Workshop (O'Sullivan) and Strike the Colours (Reeve). Part living sculptures, part Bloomsbury Group super-heroines, part widescreen pop fabulists, O'Sullivan and Reeve paint their faces with ancient symbols and sport customised shoulder pads that look both seasonally …