Magazine article Art Monthly

Glasgow International

Magazine article Art Monthly

Glasgow International

Article excerpt

Glasgow International Various venues April 19 to May 1

After this year Glasgow International (GI) will be biennial, though whether it will be a biennial, or worse, a biennale, we have yet to discover. In the second and final manifestation of its yearly form it is a 'curated and commissioning festival of contemporary art' over 13 days and 33 venues, and as such manages to incorporate some of the virtues of the average biennial festival while sidestepping quite a lot of the pitfalls. It benefits from having no big curatorial idea arched precariously over a bunch of disparate practices, and its brevity seems to recognise that the energy of the opening days of a biennial festival is what entices insiders--so why not include all visitors in that?

It is a biennial festival in a city that doesn't need one because it is secure of its place in the art world, and that has its own advantages and hazards. GI nominally occupies all the venues that would have art in them anyway (incorporating exhibitions beginning and ending outside its dates), plus many temporary ones in disused or between-use spaces--most of the participating commercial and artist-run galleries also present offsite projects. The precise role of GI curator Francis McKee in relation to all these shows is a matter of conjecture, but perhaps that open-ended question is what allows the project to breathe.

Tramway offers an insight into some of McKee's curatorial concerns with 'Streams of Story'--work by four artists who, it is suggested, create parallel, private worlds. Most compelling are Fikret Atay and Sanna Kannisto. The latter's DVD Praying Mantis, 2001, is a distillation of predatory behaviour, in which a mantis methodically devours a another large insect. Filmed in a studio setting--no context, no twigs and leaves, just a glass vitrine--it is a harsh and coldly cruel spectacle. At one point the mantis seems to be cradling its victim like a lover in its arms--but eating its face. Atay's Anytime Primetime, 2004, covers related territory, presenting a parable about wolves, sheep and humans, acted out by, we assume, local men, on a hillside in Turkey, near the Kurdish city of Batman where the artist grew up. McKee cites Walter Benjamin, 'half the art of storytelling is to keep the story free from explanation as one reproduces it.' Both these self-contained works, through vastly differing methodology, exemplify this art, whilst almost forcibly drawing a cascade of inference from the viewer.

Ferdinand Kriwet's Apollovision, 1969-2005, and Campaign, 1972/73-2005, presented in a vacant space on King Street, are storytelling which at first seems to comprise mainly explanation. Documenting the contemporary reporting of events that appeared even at the time to have great historical significance--the Moon landing and Nixon's landslide election victory--Kriwet's pioneering films defy narrative with a pile-up of sound and imagery that spins you round and immerses you in the era. These works remain as cogent as any more recent examination of media representation of political and social events.

There is more intimate imagery at the EmergeD offsite space, where Miranda Whall provides a contemplative moment of auto erotica (for herself rather than the viewer). …

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