Skip to main content

Hardeep Pandhal – A Neck or Nothing Man!

An Tobar, Tobermory, Isle of Mull April 3rd-June 27th

When Hardeep Pandhal first visited Mull, he heard a story of how a wooden statue of a highland warrior pointing passers-by towards a heritage centre had been physically defaced. The image seemed to tie in with a childhood memory of growing up in a Sikh community in Birmingham, where Pandhal remembered another image of legendary warrior and martyr Baba Deep Singh, who continued to avenge the desecration of the Golden Temple by the Afghan army while holding on to his own decapitated head.

With a burgeoning interest in Victorian satirical cartoonist and original illustrator of Charles Dickens' George Cruikshank thrown into the mix, the end result is a four-metre high sculptural reimagining of the Cruikshank cartoon which greets visitors outside the Comar organisation's Tobermory-based An Tobar centre and gives the show its name. In the original, an animated guillotine takes flight to chase a government on the run. Recast as the sort of seaside attraction which holiday-makers could pose with for postcard style snapshots by poking their own heads through the holes that saw them become cartoon characters, the bloody blade above them that threatens to reform them here gives Pandhal's show an extra edge.

“The significance of decapitation in culture is the key to the exhibition,” he explains. “As a child I was always estranged from that sort of Sikh imagery, even though it was part of my heritage, then at some point I came across the philosopher George Bataille, who took things even further, and there was this thing about trying to re-enact the soul of the guillotine. There's this idea of anger as well, of losing your head in the heat of the moment.”

Now living in Glasgow following graduation from Glasgow School of Art in 2013, Pandhal was selected to appear in Bloomberg New Contemporaries that year, and produced a public art commission for the 2014 Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art on the site of the city's former Camp Coffee factory. More recently Pandhal has been selected for the Collective Gallery in Edinburgh's Satellites programme for emerging artists, while a solo show as part of the Asian Triennial in Manchester has already caused a stir.

“There was a lot of concern about my depiction of decapitation,” Pandhal says, “which I can kind of understand, but this sort of imagery with displaced heads has been around for centuries, but what I like to think I'm doing is making something without a historical context.”

Also featuring in A Neck or Nothing Man! will be a hood knitted by his mum for a statue of St Columba that sits in An Tobar's cafe, as well as new video work and collage-based pieces. All of which embraces the immediate surroundings it sits in while recognising where it's come from.

“In terms of coming to Mull,” says Pandhal, “there's that escapist idea of getting away from things that drives people, and that becomes another metaphor for losing one's head.”
 
The List, March 2015
 
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…

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…