Hanna Tuulikki: Deer Dancer
- David Pollock
- 3 August 2019
This article is from 2019
Playful exploration of humankind's relationship with deer
For the first Edinburgh Art Festival show to be staged in the main gallery space at the new Edinburgh Printmakers building, Glasgow-based artist and composer Hanna Tuulikki has chosen, in playful and distinctive fashion, to explore the manner in which human culture has been impacted by our relationship with deer.
Based in her interests of exploring folk tradition and 'mimesis' (a kind of cultural mimicry), she looks at traditional dances from Mexico, the USA and the UK – including the Scots Highland Fling – which are said to have their origins in attempts to emulate the hunting and rutting behaviour of deer and stags. Simply by looking at these historic practices, Tuulikki opens the door to other, more contemporary associations; the grunting alpha masculinity of those involved in the hunt, for example, or the environmental impact wrought by the increase of the Scottish deer population for the purpose of stalking.
Works are playful and meticulously crafted. In the front gallery, five distinctive classical-contemporary tribal costumes have been beautifully formed from disparate materials (a stag-skull headdress; a copper breastplate; tweed trousers; a 'hobby' stag made from a broom), and in the blacked-out centre gallery, the two-channel film of the title sees Tuulikki herself wearing the costumes as invented masculine, historical figures. These characters' gestures and movements are beautifully matched by a score for voice which is haunting and ethereal.
Edinburgh Printmakers, until 6 Oct, free.