Six of Summerhall's best art exhibitions for Edinburgh Festivals 2017
- David Pollock
- 17 August 2017
Including Jane Frere: #ProtestMaskProject, Alastair MacLennan: Air a Lair and Colombo Art Biennale
Alongside all the theatre, dance and music, Summerhall's free visual arts programme is an essential element of any visit to the venue. Here, David Pollock picks half a dozen highlights to peruse, whether you're in searching for new exhibitions or looking for how to spend your time between shows.
Colombo Art Biennale – Return: In Search Of Stillness
The Colombo Art Biennale had a more difficult birth than most international art festivals, having been founded in 2009 when Sri Lanka was still in the midst of civil war. Created to help bring communities together, this retrospective of work features 13 artists, including Pala Pothupitya's demonic masks carved from the pages of atlases, Anoli Perera's male gaze-averting photographic portraits of women through the medium of their hair and Radhika Hettiarachchi's striking photographic testimonies of women who survived the war. It's a selection which is as instructive as it is inventive.
Until 24 Sep. ★★★★☆
Jane Frere: #ProtestMaskProject
Frere, who is based in the Highlands, instigated her CAT (Creative, Aesthetic, Transgression) project in 2014, using social media to instigate a form of mass protest against troubling events in Bahrain, Gaza and America. Here, the image of the cat mask she created takes on new and succinctly effective use as a symphonious chorus of angry Twitter heads roar their disapproval of everything at the audience, from '#FAKETRUMP' to 'BIG DATA' and 'PSY-OPS'. If Twitter has a face, then this is it.
Until 24 Sep. ★★★★☆
Protestimony: We Need to Talk About Calais…
Created by Lujza Richter, Marthe Chabrol and Hari Read of London not-for-profit IMAGINE, Protestimony is a small recreation of a corner of the Calais refugee camp made from chipboard, palettes and old shopping trolleys strewn here and there. Its informational areas tell us much about the day-to-day of Calais and the structure is an immersive and oddly effective fusion of sculpture and documentary.
Until 24 Sep. ★★★☆☆
Alastair MacLennan: Air a Lair
Born near Perth and based in Belfast since 1975, MacLennan's retrospective range of sculptural and angrily black-painted work speaks of violence and destruction, and not just in the context of his regular subject, the Troubles. 'Body of (D)earth' is striking, a scorch-marked wooden beam balanced on a thin, all-white table topped with a mound of soil. 'Lies in Weight' features a pile of discarded glasses, as though the remnants of some unspoken Holocaust, and there's also the delicately sinister 'Vael', a mound of scrunched tissues, black ink seeping from their core.
Until 30 Sep. ★★★★☆
Liliane Lijn: Early Events - Five Narrative Sculptures (1996-2000)
American-born and an early exponent of 'kinetic text' with 1962's 'Poem Machines', Liliane Lijn's work is represented here by a series of small structures which break the boundaries between sculpture and video art. Presented in darkness, these small, black huts and shelters are embedded with tiny screens that show moving images of rolling waves crashing against the shore and home video footage. They're a fascinating and distinctive little selection, although the feeling is that they just scratch the surface of this artist's work.
Until 30 Sep. ★★★☆☆
Richard Lees: This is Hull! Rock Against Racism
Channelling the punk energy of the Rock Against Racism era, but in a distinctive manner which owned nothing to the safety-pinned style which has become lazy shorthand for London of the time, Richard Lees' elegant gig posters for RAR gigs by bands like Posers Revolt, Timber Flesh and My Silent War are beautiful, dynamic woodcuts in stylised monochromatic colour, which conjure ideas of the blocky, situationist sloganeering posters of the Mai 68 riots, German Expressionism and the movie poster designs of Saul Bass.
Until 30 Sep. ★★★★☆