The Year of the Horse (4 stars)

This article is from 2009

The Year of the Horse

Frightening vision of a vacuous consumer society

The cartoonist, Harry Horse presented a haunting, gothic vision of contemporary Britain in the Sunday Herald in the year before his tragic and early death in January 2007. These bare facts and a few more are communicated by Tam Dean Burn before he launches into a slide show of the artist’s work, reading Horse’s own text as each piece appears before us.

What emerges is a frightening vision, accompanied by Keith McIvor’s disturbing electronic score of a vacuous consumer society, fuelled by war and brutality and reified by the bromide of affluence.

Horse’s work is stunningly effective, both beautiful and ghastly in its exploration of the blood money appropriated in the Iraq war, and the grim moral vacuum of the spectacle that masked it. For him, our culture sleeps, glutted with the smug righteousness of its media, as an environmental and moral apocalypse approaches. It’s all strikingly presented by Burn, who in a white ‘hoodie’ voices the primal rage of the artist with a theatricality that contrives to arrest you long after the show, but never overwhelms the breathtaking visuals.

Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 31 Aug (not 24), 6.05pm, £10–£12 (£8– £10).

Year of the Horse

  • 4 stars

Tam Dean Burn, Herald Angel winner for 'Venus as a Boy', in his homage to artist Harry Horse. 'Likely to emerge as one of the most powerful Scottish theatre pieces this year' (Scotsman). See

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