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Bill Bollinger – Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

October 28 2011-January 8 2012
4 stars
Onscreen in black and white, a man is attempting to stand a log upright
of its own volition. Time and again the man methodically lifts the log
off the ground, moving it from horizontal to vertical before it topples
as though felled with some invisible axe. For a second it looks like
it’s there, only for it to go down with a silent thump. It’s a
Sisyphean task, and, as the film’s jump-cuts suggest, one that took an
age. Then, finally, in what’s become an unpredictably prolonged
performance, the log is up there, standing tall, proud and monumental.
So what does the guy do but only go and knock it over some more.

‘Movie’ goes some way to explaining the high-tension methodology of the
late Bill Bollinger, the aeronautical engineer turned 1960s New York
contemporary of Bruce Nauman, Robert Ryman, Eva Hesse and co. Unlike
them, Bollinger died in obscurity in 1988, aged not yet fifty. This
lovingly sourced retrospective, instigated by the Kunstmuseum
Liechtenstein, Vaduz in partnership with the Fruitmarket and the ZKM
Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, shows how much Bollinger was a
sculptural and architectural stunt-riding daredevil.

Wire-mesh sheets roll into hump-backs like a skeleton for a skate-park.
A taut rope runs the length of the downstairs room, dividing it in two.
Pipes lay coupled on the floor, splayed and in repose. Strung-up wires
zig-zag the ceiling like a choreographed pas de deux between sail-boats.

Bill Bollinger was lost in space, both of his time and out of it. In
his meticulous re-arranging of the everyday there are clear umbilical
links to Martin Creed and Karla Black, both of whom have had solo shows
at the Fruitmarket in the last year. As an ante-room floor is
half-coated with graphite, it splits up the light and shade of a place
where Bollinger left his footprint for others to follow.

The List, November 2011

ends

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