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

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…