Glasgow’s Visual Art Festival drew to a close yesterday. Regretfully, I didn’t get around to everything else that I wanted to see, but here’s the rest of my round up:
Wolfgang Tillmans @ The Common Guild
I had neither been aware of Tillmans nor have I been to this gallery before, a converted tenement on a south-facing terrace in the silent austerity of Park Circus.
A mix of styles is on show, candids to abstracts. I enjoyed most his photographs-as-objects. There’s something beautiful and worth revisting in his manipulation of paper to reveal textures and complexities in light. Overall I’d have liked a more coherent selection, but there were one or two real highlights and I’d certainly look him up again.
Photoworks, Trongate & Transmission
I didn’t really take in the ground floor exhibitions in Photoworks, but The Print Gallery next door is always a treat to browse, any time of the year. For the festival, the top floor was open to the public to view resident artists working with the printing presses. A charming woman took me and another through the different stages of a print she was working on that day (a kind of double-image of a grieving woman surrounded by the words “You stole my soul, it fell apart, many moons ago, you broke my heart”), albeit without much luck as the giant press kept slipping and smudging the ink at the last. I was gradually hoping she would give away some of these rejects, but they were filed away as carefully as the successful prints. I had to content myself with a card from the shop downstairs.
Sacrilege @ Glasgow Greeen
Deller gets quite a lot of stick from the art press. On the evidence of his giant inflatable Stonehenge, they can fuck right off. It succeeds. It’s enormous fun. It’s a shame it doesn’t come back every year. I started smiling like an idiot as soon as I got on and I pretty much didn’t stop for half and hour. Facebook is crammed with joyous phone-captured face-plants. Glasgow City Council should put aside a fund so that Deller can celebrate/desecrate further renowned monuments and heritage sites of the world, in glorious inflatable structures, right there on Glasgow Green, every year until he dies. Seriously.
This was the surprise venue for me. I went on the last day to see Unravel, the installation by Aidan Moffat and FOUND (see pic top). A turntable, a drumkit, a keyboard, speakers, a double set of chimes. No players, all electronically automated. An assistant asks those present if anyone has any requests from the box of cheesy 45′s next to the turntable (Lady In Red anyone?). But it doesn’t matter what gets put on the turntable. The dropping of the needle starts the installation into life and it’s not the single that plays but staccato compositions with Moffat drawling narratives over the top. Fun for a bit, then silly, finally too clever.
Great stuff by Max Prus, Diego and Jose Eduardo Yaque Llorente in the main building. The collaboration between Prus and celebrated painter Alan Davie (Davie’s funny and touching letter to Prus soliciting his help was on show) had already been buried, as advertised. But there was other work by Prus and a video installation made with Davie.
Chamy’s work is an irreverent breath of fresh air. My pick is the video entitled “Bert and Ernie play the Drums”. That’s exactly what it is. A short video excerpt from Sesame Street where B&E are trying to bring two different drumbeats together. Contemporary art is often just context, and in the hall there, sitting down with headphones on, charmed to be listening to the puppets and following the transcript complete with Chamy’s deadpan liner notes, this simple scene transformed itself into some bizarre philosophical commentary on differences and getting on. And then again it was just Bert and Ernie playing the drums.
Lastly, I’ll give a couple of lines over to La Moine/The Monk, which was playing at Gft. The cinematography was amazing, Cassel is very convincing. But Jesus, what a fucking stupid movie.
SPOILER ALERT. He’s a monk. An abandoned child. He has this gravity. He talks about evil a lot, says the devil only has the power we give him. We start with him taking confession from a paedo-monk played very slimily by Sergi Lopez.
The Monk preaches to thronged audiences. But he has headaches. Dreams. The order takes in a young man who wears a mask due to horrific burns. But it’s a chick. She lied so she could be around The Monk. She wants to jump him. She has healing power to take away his headaches. The Monk has a rose garden. He gets bitten by a centipede. Fever. She sucks the poison out, gets naked and has it off with him. They continue getting it off. She frequently gets into an open grave. He watches. There’s some other tedious narrative about an ailing mother, her pious daughter, and a fresh-faced young nobleman who wants to jump her (the daughter). Blah blah. The Monk is all fucked up. Fast forward a bit. He’s obsessed with the pious girl. His wee masked girlfriend goes into her hole in the ground, gives him a branch, some herb, tells him to stick it under her nose and he’s away for slates. So he does. And kills the mother. And the girl goes insane. And he’s damned by the order. And then he’s in the desert. And wee slimy Sergi pops up and asks for his soul. He says he’ll give it is the girl is saved from insanity. Wee Sergi says deal.
It pissed me off. So I couldn’t manage just a couple of lines. But now you don’t have to see it.