Skip to main content

Joseph McKenzie: Women of Dundee & Photographs from the Margaret Morris collection

Stills, Edinburgh, 6th February-9th April

At first glance, two old women gossiping on a half-demolished street may not have much to do with the group of nymph-like waifs in swimsuits draping themselves across the branches of a tree in synchronised unison. Seen alongside each other as in this two-part exhibition at Stills, however, the documentary photographs of Joseph McKenzie and images by Fred Daniels taken from the collection of choreographer Margaret Morris fuse social history and artistic archive in fascinating counterpoint.

Where Joseph McKenzie was regarded as the father of Scottish photography up until his death in 2015, the shapes thrown in Morris' 1920s world were the epitome of abstraction applied to everyday life. Both, in their own ways, were radical pioneers.

“The Margaret Morris collection is a really early example of an artist recognising the importance of documentation,” Stills director Ben Harman says,“while Joseph McKenzie's photographs are early examples of a form that shows how important documentary photography has become.”

McKenzie's images of Dundee women are drawn from a much larger collection, Dundee - City in Transition, exhibited in 1966 and now held by the city's McManus Gallery and Museum. Daniels' images of Morris and co are taken from the Fergusson Gallery's collection at Perth Gallery and Museum.

As vital as the work of both McKenzie and Morris remains, this second of Stills' ongoing series of twinned historical shows aims to bring it into the open in a way that both saves them from neglect and illustrates their influence on those working in similar fields today.

“I wonder whether part of Margaret Morris's legacy is the whole cultural spirit of Glasgow,” posits Harman. “She was such a part of that. As far as Joseph McKenzie goes, documentary photography is such a major strand of contemporary practice now, but McKenzie really set the bar.”

The List, January 2016

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Clybourne Park

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy Four Stars
It’s a case of whoops, there goes the neighbourhood twice over in Rapture Theatre’s revival of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opens in 1959 in the same Chicago suburb where Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which appeared that year, is set. Here, Robin Kingsland’s Russ and his wife Bev, played by Jackie Morrison, are preparing to move out of their now almost empty des-res following a family tragedy.
Unknown to them, the bargain basement price tag has enabled a black family to move in, with Jack Lord’s uptight Karl a self-appointed spokesperson for the entire ‘hood. Russ and Bev’s black maid Francine (Adelaide Obeng) and her husband Albert (Vinta Morgan), meanwhile, bear witness to a barrage of everyday racism. Fast forward half a century, and a white family are trying to buy the same house, albeit with a heap of proposed changes which the black couple representing the block’s now much more diverse community aren’t…

Michael Rother - Sterntaler at 40

"There's so much to do," says an uncharacteristically flustered Michael Rother. The normally unflappably beatific German guitarist, composer and former member of Neu! and Harmonia, who also had a stint in a nascent Kraftwerk, is packing for live dates in Russia and the UK, including this weekend's show at the Queen Margaret Union in Glasgow.
"It has always been my choice to take care of these things myself and not have a manager," he says. "Somehow for me the independent aspect of doing things is really important, but it has its disadvantages."
As well as playing selections from Neu! and Harmonia, the trio he formed with Dieter Moebius and Hans Joachim Roedelius of Cluster, Rother's Glasgow date will see him play a fortieth anniversary rendering of his second solo album, Sterntaler, in full. Rother will be accompanied by guitarist Franz Bargmann and drummer Hans Lampe, the latter of whose musical involvement with Rother dates back to Neu! days, …

Giles Havergal - CATS Awards 2019

Giles Havergal has always been the perfect host. During his thirty-odd year tenure as co-artistic director of the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, Havergal would be there in the foyer on each opening night, meeting and greeting with an old school charm that came to define the Gorbals-based emporium. While many directors prefer to duck out of view, only meeting their public once the first night stresses have subsided, in contrast, Havergal seemed joyously unfazed by such things. Only when he was acting in a show was he absent from his task.
All of which makes Havergal the ideal choice as guest presenter of this year’s Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland, the ceremony for which takes place at Tramway in Glasgow this Sunday afternoon. This year’s awards see a smorgasbord of productions and artists from the last year’s crop of home-grown shows celebrated by Scotland’s theatre critics in its annual ceremony.
With winners announced on the day, nominations include Birds of Paradise and the Na…