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Lucy Skaer – The Green Man

Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh until October 6
Four stars

Open house is very much de rigeur in this extensive new show for Edinburgh Art Festival led by Lucy Skaer. And a very nice house it is too, as Skaer invites other artists in to what might well be an epic house-warming, such is the extent of their contributions to Skaer’s manufactured open-plan environment here.

With Fiona Connor, Haneline Visnes Will Holder, with input from twentieth century American novelist Hilda Doolittle, aka H.D., and, as one half of Nashashibi/Skaer, Rosalind Nashashibi, all taking part, the result in the downstairs white gallery, at least, looks part trophy room, with assorted archaic hunting horns hung on the wall. Beneath them, oversize bronze, wood and copper constructions laid out on the floor in formation like a forensically excavated crime scene, such a pick and mix from the natural world keeps everything in its place while finding a place for everything. The works take in the full expanse of the Talbot Rice, including hitherto unexplored areas. Laid out as such they resemble giant model kits waiting to be pieced together. Upstairs, customised stage set models or toy theatres await plot devices before being similarly scaled up. 

Also upstairs, Nashashibi/Skaer’s film, Why Are You Angry?, models its images of Tahitian women on Paul Gauguin’s 1896 painting of the same name, re-making and re-modelling a work originally painted in the throes of women in New Zealand first being given the vote with an even more vigorous sense of emancipation.

The combination of works and their arrangement in the space suggests a new era of myths and rituals in waiting. The standing-stone foundations at the centre of an ever widening circle, everything except the door on the wall, it seems, is wide open. Which realm it leads to next is up in the air. 

The List, August 2018

Ends




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