Skip to main content

The Writing On Your Wall

Edinburgh Printmakers until October 25th 2011
4 stars
When Jeremy Deller put Rupert Murdoch's wrinkled walnut face on a
sky-blue 'Vote Conservative' poster to raise funds for the Labour
Party, it looked like satire. Given the ongoing phone-hacking saga, it
now feels like prophecy. The 'Murdoch Doesn't Give A XXXX' poster
opposite from 1986's Fortress Wapping days may be dated in terms of its
reference to a then novel Australian fizzy lager, but, seen alongside
Deller's piece, it's an important pointer to how history repeats itself.

Curated by Rob Tuffnall, this group show aims to reclaim the radical
grassroots of print., when a pamphlet, a poster and a button badge were
the ideologue's weapons of choice. Such notions date all the way back
to James Gillray's early nineteenth century cartoon, awash with
pop-eyed society grotesques. Crucial archives from post 1968 Notting
Hill provocateurs King Mob include a flyer for the famed department
store Santa action which Malcolm McLaren may or may not have been
involved in. James Connolly's magnificently named slim volume,
'Socialism Made Easy' and Christopher Logue's post Vietnam poem posters
marry pop and protest in a way today's largely aesthetic-free
groupuscules could similarly learn much from.

Alsadair Gray's portraits of very personal defiance, Ruth Ewan's
text-based provocations and Joanne Tatham and Tom O'Sullivan's 'An
Indirect Exchange...Of Uncertain Value' series are similarly striking.
A new piece by Dellar shows a newspaper photo of a glum-looking quartet
outside their soon-to-be-closed community centre. Dominating the room
are ten prints by some-time collaborators of Mayo Thompson's avant-rock
band, The Red Krayola, Art & Language. Taken from the covers of A&L
publications, quasi-mock heroic images take a stand in classic
socialist-realist apparel. A new piece, a framed, text-heavy
paper-chain, might well be the missing link beteween theory and action.

Such militant tendencies are probably best personified, however, by the
presence of an old-school typewriter and the sort of hand-operated
vintage printer that fuelled a thousand late-night strategy meetings by
clandestine cells of agitators fine-tuning manifestos to turn the world
upside down. This is the means of production seized in all its
inky-fingered fervour.

The List, October 2011

ends

Comments

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…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…

Nomanslanding

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 …