Alexander Heim: Doves (3 stars)

This article is from 2008

A pigeon

Harnessing pigeon power

Lyrical and sophisticated, young German artist Alexander Heim’s first solo UK show exhibits a fascinating lightness of touch. Doves pivots around a video of pigeons at a London Costa Coffee branch. Exquisitely-composed photographs of fragments of pavement and large, cave-like papier-mâché sculptures are presented as artistic offspring of the video. Heim’s use of multi-media sounds overwhelming, but it’s not: it awakens in the viewer an appetite for more, for further forms.

Heim’s works do not glorify the pigeons, or project onto them. At most, the birds appear as subjects in their own right; it’s an honour not often bestowed on flying vermin. With his choice of exhibition title and subject, Heim tells a tragic tale of two birds from the same family, playing with the lyrical, snow-white and peaceful iconography of the dove, holding it in contrast to its wild, mucky relative, the scourge of inner-city life. This narrative doesn’t remain the central intrigue, however; Heim’s works are animated most prominently by a strange nostalgia for modernist forms. Looking for the beautiful in the everyday, using the documenting camera to artful ends and taking interest in primal and archaic forms were all modernist occupations, and, cheeky references to the coffee chain aside, Heim’s works appear to be haunted by his post-war predecessors. Doves is not about transforming the quotidian, though; his pigeons remain pigeons, a fragile, yet tangible nod to the obsolete ideals of modernism, and a noteworthy use of understatement among the brasher, bolder shows and showcases of the festival.

Doggerfisher, 558 7110, until 13 Sep, Tue–Fri 10am–6pm (Sat noon–5pm), free.

Edinburgh Art Festival

Scotland's largest annual celebration of visual art offers work by the best contemporary Scottish artists as well as exhibitions of the most important international artists and movements of the 20th century and other historical periods.

Alexander Heim: Doves

  • 3 stars

Lyrical, sophisticated first UK show by the young German artist, which pivots on a surprisingly simple video of pigeons outside a coffee shop, expanding its themes into photography and large sculpture.

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