Skip to main content

Grace Ndiritu - A Return To Normalcy: Birth of a New Museum

Reid Gallery, Reid Building, Glasgow School of Art until December 12th

"The things people think about Africa," says the down to earth and very English sounding voice of Grace Ndiritu in her video piece, Raiders of the Lost Ark (2015), at one point, "and they never go to Africa. Fuckin' Hell, man."

Filmed on location at the Wusha Mikel Church in Ethiopia and the Samyeling Tibetan Monastery, Raiders of the Lost Ark's prosaic observation sums up everything Ndiritu's vast catalogue of film and video works, paintings, photographs and performances are about. Raised in Britain and with a Kenyan heritage, as Ndiritu bridges the shadow line of cultural assimilation, appropriation and fetishisation of the exotic, a transformative visual poetry emerges that fuses shamanic ceremonial with trash pop notions of ethno-delic glam chic and ancient future ritual.

This is made most explicit in Holotropic Breathing for the Masses (2015), a film of what in September of this year Ndiritu styled as 'An Afro-futuristic Performance', in which she set herself up as a high priestess overseeing a form of rebirthing of GSA's Mackintosh Building following the recent fire that destroyed part of this most iconic of buildings.

The film is screened beside the set on which Ndiritu performed, with a circular yellow rug at its centre flanked by mock-ups of giant crystals and vividly coloured sculptural shapes. In this recreation of Ndiritu's temple-like construction, the film itself finds her banging a drum as she attempts to conjure up the Egyptian God Osiris.

Even more hypnotic is the singing bowl-like drone composed and performed by Ndiritu that forms the soundtrack for Journey's North: Pole to Pole (2009), a twin screen video installation in which adaptations of Native Alaskan poems by Melody Jackson are beamed alongside images of a snow-driven landscape.

With the paintings that make up Workers: Post-Hippie Pop-Abstraction (2015) exploring New Age totems co-opted by fashion victim cultural tourists and the ongoing photo-based installation, AQFM VOL.6 GLASGOW SCHOOL OF ART an ever expanding archive of multi-cultural mash-ups, this is as much a personal spiritual quest as anthropological excavation.

'Today I am more Native than yesterday' are the first words onscreen in Journey's North: Pole to Pole. 'I see I am more Native than tomorrow' are the last in a telling meditation on how identities can shape-shift depending on where you're at as much as where you are.

Scottish Art News, December 2015



ends



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

Bdy_Prts

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Saturday December 2nd


It should probably come as no surprise that professional dancers are in the audience for the Edinburgh leg of this mini tour by spectral performance art/pop auteurs Bdy_Prts on the back of the release of their sublime debut album, The Invisible Hero. Beyond the music, the raison d’etre of Bdy_Prts’ dynamic duo of Jill O'Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, after all, is a flamboyantly costumed display of kinetic physical jerks and modernist shape-throwing to illustrate a set of fizzing machine-age chorales.

In this sense, the Bdy_Prts live experience is several works of art for the price of one that's a long way from the pair's formative work fronting Sparrow and the Workshop (O'Sullivan) and Strike the Colours (Reeve). Part living sculptures, part Bloomsbury Group super-heroines, part widescreen pop fabulists, O'Sullivan and Reeve paint their faces with ancient symbols and sport customised shoulder pads that look both seasonally …

Ceildh

Tron Theatre, Glasgow Three stars
One kiss is all it takes for everyone to understand each other in Catriona Lexy Campbell and Mairi Sine Campbell’s new play. Linguistically that is, as ancient and modern are brought to rollickingly intimate life by the Gaelic-based Theatre Gu Leor (Theatre Galore) company in the Tron’s Vic Bar en route to an extensive cross-Scotland tour. The set-up is the sort of ghastly tartan-draped corporate function whose perma-grinning hostess Lisa makes bogus claims of preserving culture while blatantly intent on flogging it off to the highest bidder. Think McWetherspoon by way of Trumpageddon.
With the audience ushered into a cabaret table arrangement by Lisa’s step-daughter Eilidh and serenaded by Eddie’s oh-so-couthy accordion playing, the dirt from Harris is unearthed along with a bottle of David Beckham-branded whisky. This causes the corporate shindig to be disrupted on an epic scale by seventeenth century poet Mairi Ruadh. Which is when both the kissing an…