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Ruth Ewan – The Beast / Camara Taylor – Backwash / Annette Krauss – A Matter of Precedents

The contradictions inherent in the system are everywhere at the Calton Hill home of Edinburgh’s Collective Gallery just now. As gentrification encroaches the landscape, the gallery’s three Edinburgh Art Festival shows turn received historical narratives on their head to reveal more ambiguous readings of the past.   Outside, visitors are greeted by ‘Silent Agitator’ (2019), a giant clock made by Ruth Ewan bearing the words ‘TIME TO ORGANISE’. This monumental call to arms is based on an illustration by American writer and activist Ralph Chaplin for the Industrial Workers of the World labour union, and is a companion piece to ‘The Beast’ (2022), a newly commissioned twelve-minute animated film penned by Ewan with socialist magician Ian Saville.   Animated by Regina Ohak with Duncan Marquiss, and with music and sound design by Ross Downes, the film depicts nineteenth century industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, forced to engage in dialectical discourse with  Diplodocus carnegi
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Studio Lenca - The Invisibles

A bare-chested man poses with a football tied on his head with the sort of scarf that might have been sported by the daughters in Lorca’s play, The House of Bernarda Alba, on one of their sunnier days. This is ‘Immigrante’ (2022),  in which El Salvador born Jose Campos, in his guise of Studio Lenca, strikes a pose.   In ‘El Historiante Blanco’ (2019), Campos stares defiantly at the camera from the next wall, a sword-wielding warrior clad in armour made, not of metal and mesh, but flowers and lace, in a fancy dress subversion of machismo.     These are two of  Los Historiantes (2019), in which Campos dons the dressing-up-box apparel of characters depicted by his country’s folkloric storytelling dancers, who hand down tales of colonialism and subjugation of their Indigenous people. As an émigré fleeing his war-torn country, first to America, now to the UK, where he is officially classed as ‘Other’, Campos reimagines these various identities in flamboyantly theatrical fashion.    The two

Adrienne Truscott – Masterclass

When Adrienne Truscott read in 2017 how playwright David Mamet had imposed a ban on post-show discussions of his work, she wondered why the writer of such acclaimed plays as Glengarry Glen Ross and Oleanna wasn’t keen on meeting his public. The result is Masterclass,   a  parody of the sort of exchanges that might occur if the grand old men of American playwriting were put in the spotlight alongside a fawning interviewer. Out of this comes a seriously funny discourse on privilege and power in a world where tough guys still appear to rule the roost.   “ There are some writers that are esteemed and given the name genius,” says Truscott of her  collaboration with the Dublin based Brokentalkers company , “and they're shit. I guess I felt there was some lazy mythologizing going on, and if you actually look at the work, there is some really bad writing, which shaped how people my age thought about what is good playwriting.”   As well as Mamet, Truscott, fellow performer Feidlim Cannon an

A Class Act?

A funny thing happened on the way to Edinburgh this year. No, really. After a pandemic induced absence, and with all those small-is-beautiful type promises of a more bijou August festival season seemingly forgotten, the class-based inequalities of festival city are more gapingly obvious than ever.   The exposure of dodgy working practices by some Fringe venues, and the fact that it is increasingly difficult to work at the festivals at all unless you are from a wealthy background mirror the chaos of late capitalist society beyond. As too do extortionate accommodation costs, while ticket prices in some places look increasingly out of reach for the average punter in search of a good night out.   The result, in the Fringe, at least, saw the Fringe Society initially announce a Working Class Producers Mentorship. This was subsequently ‘paused’ due to a poor response, with successful applicants absorbed into the already existing Emerging Producers Development Programme.    Meanwhile, in April

Joyce Laing - An Obituary

Joyce Laing – Art therapist   Born April 1939; died July 17 2022     Joyce Laing, who has died aged around 83, was a pioneer of art therapy, whose work with psychiatric patients and long term prisoners helped unlock means of creative expression that transcended lives. In the 1970s, she played a key role at Barlinnie Special Unit, the experimental Glasgow prison wing where violent hardmen were liberated by Laing’s techniques. The best known of these was Jimmy Boyle, the convicted murderer who went on to became a successful sculptor.   “He was suspicious,” Laing told the Glasgow Times in 2017 of Boyle’s initial response to her. “He thought this was too good, it couldn’t be happening. He thought ‘this woman must be a spy’.”   Laing was speaking prior to an exhibition at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow of work from the Special Unit drawn from her own collection of sketchbooks, newspaper cuttings and photographs, as well as paintings and sculptures by inmates.   prior to Laing

Céline Condorelli: After Work

The hard labour is almost done for London based artist  Céline Condorelli  the day before After Work, her sprawling compendium of installations, interventions and disruptions, opens at Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh. All that is left for the University of Edinburgh's run institution’s team of technicians and installers to do is to put the finishing touches on Condorelli’s constructed evocations of gardens, adventure playgrounds and sports centres. These are set alongside images drawn from tyre factories and the everyday graft most people undertake before clocking off for weekend outings that might well include gallery excursions and suchlike.    Those bringing Condorelli’s visions to temporary life are the art world’s key workers, who remain largely unseen to the public, but who make things tick. Without them, the exhibitions we take for granted simply would not happen. This is something Condorelli is acutely aware of, both in the social make up of her constructions and in her re

Channels - Edinburgh Art Festival Commission 2022

Things have come a long way for the Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal since it first opened for business in 1822. This should be apparent when Edinburgh Art Festival presents   Channels , a series of new public works by four artists, curated by this year’s EAF Associate Artist, Emmie McLuskey, as part of the festival’s 2022 commissions programme.    From Lochrin Basin to Wester Hailes, works by Maeve Redmond, Hannan Jones, Amanda Thomson and Janice Parker navigate their way through the waterway’s rich flow of history by way of sign writing, sound, botany, writing, and dance.   “ The canal kind of sits outside of the main bit of the city, and it's got a really interesting history in relation to industry,” says McLuskey,  EAF’s second Associate Artist following on from Tako Taal in 2021 . “This is obviously a huge generalisation, but Edinburgh doesn't necessarily see itself as an industrial city.”   McLuskey was attracted to  Channels  by way of another project she was working on