Review: Where Do I End and You Begin
Major exhibition At Edinburgh's City Art Centre confronts the difficult history of the Commonwealth
This article is from 2014.
This major exhibition developed by the Edinburgh Art Festival takes its title from a neon text by Indian artist Shilpa Gupta, which seems highly relevant. In a world where so much is global - not least contemporary art - the lines between 'I' and 'you', between 'them' and 'us' are blurred.
But taking on the question of 'Commonwealth' and 'commons' means engaging with a difficult history. Uriel Orlow explores the 1897 British expedition to Benin, which led to the theft and sale of thousands of artefacts. South Africa’s 'Mary Sibande' plays with ideas of class and race in her portrait of the fictional character Sophie, a domestic maid dressed as a lady.
Some excavate more personal histories; Bangladeshi artist Naeem Mohaiemen created ‘Rankin Street’ after finding a box of photographs taken by his father in the 1950s, while South African Kay Hassan meticulously recreates ‘My Father’s Music Room’ from a similar period, with its shelves of vinyl, showing the diversity of a family’s music collection at a time when much of everyday life was segregated.
Others disregard the specifics of time and place. The burning truck in the film ‘Burn Out’, by New Zealand artist Steve Carr, is a universal expression of youth disaffection, while Pakistan-born Masooma Syed creates intricate collages of time and place in sculptures which look like miniature stage sets. Meanwhile, ‘Flaghall’, a tent structure by Manchester-based artists Emma Rushton and Derek Tyman, becomes the venue for a video lecture by Scots historian Andy Wightman, reminding us that our land ownership issues in Scotland have much with common with many Commonwealth nations.
City Arts Centre, 529 3993, until Sun 19 Oct, free.