Skip to main content

Ponte City

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh until April 26th
Four stars

'Live in Ponte', declaims the mantra on a poster depicting some glossy
urban paradise, 'and never go out.'  For the  54-storey circular folly
that still towers over Johannesburg's skyline and which was originally
built in 1976 to house South Africa's white elite, alas, things didn't
quite work out like that. By the time South African photographer
Mikhael Subotsky and British artist Patrick Waterhouse came calling,
the concrete monstrosity was largely occupied by black residents who
moved in following the collapse of apartheid, although many had
subsequently been evicted by predatory property developers.

The result of Subotsky and Waterhouse's five year study in this
international collaboration between the SNPG, Le Bal, Paris and FoMu
Antwerp is an expansive piece of impressionistic photo-journalism that
combines archive and found material alongside fresh images and texts
documenting a community which survives in spite of assorted social
upheavals and financial collapses.

Portraits of residents and their apartments sit next to the detritus
found in abandoned units and news cuttings charting this
nouveau-Babel's chequered history. A startled child's face on a tatty
postcard sums things up with the caption, 'Don't let the future take
you by surprise', in this damning indictment of how the global
conspiracies of gentrification and botched attempts at social
engineering are the real things needing demolished.

The List, January 2015



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 …