Skip to main content

Stan Douglas - Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh,

November 7th-February 15th 2015

When Stan Douglas decided to explore what happens in rough-house
neighbourhoods after a war, the play, Helen Lawrence, which forms part
of the 2014 Edinburgh International Festival's Theatre programme, was
the result. This film noir writ large is an epic piece of 'cinematic
theatre' in which the actors are filmed live as they perform against
digitally realised back-drops of Vancouver's Hogan's Alley district and
the city's now demolished Old Hotel where homeless war veterans
squatted in increasing squalor.

It was somehow fitting that the shadows and light of  Hogan's Alley
were tucked away at one end of Munich's Kunsthaus as part of Douglas'
recent Mise en scene show of his elaborately constructed fictions
there. The 3D stylings of both Hogan's Alley and Hotel Vancouver that
formed the 'set' of Helen Lawrence now makes up part of the Canadian
film and photography-based artist's Fruitmarket Gallery show.

Also at the Fruitmarket will be Video, an eighteen minute remake of
Orson Welles' big-screen version of Franz Kafka's novel, The Trial
which, while also looking to Samuel Beckett's 1965 work, Film, was
filmed in the same Paris tower-block where Jean Luc Godard's 1967
feature, Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle (Two Or Three Things I
Know about Her). The digital form is reduced to its purest state in the
selections from Corrupt Files (2013), which turns data into
rainbow-coloured bar-codes.

The centrepiece of the show, however, will be Der Sandmann, Douglas'
1995 breakout piece that took its name from an E.T.A. Hoffman short
story referenced by Sigmund Freud. Filmed in Potsdam, the film looked
at post Cold War urban planning via a split screen juxtaposition of
footage of a garden when it was a place where the poor could grow food,
and twenty years later when it had become a construction site.

First seen widely at Documenta in 1997, Der Sandmann encapsulates
Douglas' quietly political concerns, which map out or else reimagine
social histories of marginalised communities. This is the case too with
Helen Lawrence, in which the digital reconstruction of both Hogan's
Ally and the Old Hotel both honours their history while creating a
brand new mythology where nothing is hidden.

Scottish Art News - August 2014



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…

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…