Skip to main content

Happy Days In The Art World

Tramway, Glasgow
3 stars
There's an uber-cool whiff of Hollywood as well as Samuel Beckett about
this new show by Berlin-based Scandinavian art duo Elmgreen & Dragset,
which this weekend received two low-key work-in-progress previews en
route to a full run at the Performa festival in New York. The first
comes in the form of real life movie star Joseph Fiennes onstage. The
second, despite the title, looks to Beckett's other existential
masterpiece, Waiting For Godot, for guidance.

Fiennes plays one of two men who wake up on bunk-beds in a black room,
too hungover to remember where they were the night before or why
they're all dressed up in identical black suits. The private view
babble that sounds as the lights go down gives the game away in spades,
however. Fiennes' ID and Charles Edwards' ME are idealised versions of
their authors, an art-star double act trapped in a self-reflexive
bubble. They're waiting for salvation, not from Godot, but the

In what's effectively a great big elaborate in-joke, overwrought gospel
versions of portentous U2 epics and all, Elmgreen & Dragset laugh at
their own pseudyness even as they revel in it. This is especially the
case with the helicoptered-in arrival of blind fed-ex courier BI, who
doubles as their version of Godot's Lucky. Her spewed-out speech,
however, references Derrida, Lacan, Tate Modern and other coffee-table
art-scene iconography absorbed by rote.

With script advice from Forced Entertainment's Tim Etchells, it's hard
to fault the slickness of Toby Frew's production, however old-fashioned
it all looks. In the end, ID and ME carry on regardless just as their
Beckettian forbears did, the Turner pointlessly in their sights.

The Herald, October 24th 2011



Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

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…


Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …