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Claude Cahun / Sue Tompkins

Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh until April 17th
4 stars
Two female artists bridge the last two centuries in these contrasting
but complimentary shows. Cahun’s all-angles black and white photographs
on the top floor of the gallery captures the artist’s striking
singularity via a series of portraits that look like an early twentieth
century pre-punk template for equally studied images by Patti Smith.

Downstairs, meanwhile, ex Life Without Buildings chanteuse Tompkins
expands her adventures with text-based pieces by utilising safety pins
and other accoutrements into her palette. With her text pieces becoming
increasingly minimal on paper at least, the opening of Tompkins’ show
saw her perform her opus ‘Hallo Welcome To Keith Street’ in full.

Reading from a thick swadge of paper scrappily bound in a folder,
Tomkins gave a gleeful rendition of what sounds like a very personal
set of free-associations, bippetty-boppitying about in front of the
gallery’s lift over the piece’s full forty minute duration. With
Tompkins becoming an increasingly major figure, it’s refreshing to see
such a force of nature in full throes of inspired rapture.

The List, March 2011

ends

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