Magazine article Art Monthly

Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art

Magazine article Art Monthly

Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art

Article excerpt

Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art

various venues Glasgow 16 April to 3 May

With over 40 events stretching the breadth of the city, the pulse of the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art is running high. Now in its fourth year, the format has changed since its early days; growing funding has meant more opportunities and hence a correspondingly greater need for organisation. This has in turn led to its present biannual format, giving current director Katrina Brown much needed time to capitalise. Even so, the dizzying array of online promotional material has made it almost impossible to know where to begin. Each previous GI Festival has used an umbrella theme to try to resolve this issue and this time Brown has opted for 'Past, Present, Future', a broad enough rubric to offer consistency without constricting creativity.

Douglas Gordon encapsulates this theme more succinctly than anyone else, with a new installation in Tramway's large theatre space. He draws on the not so distant past, resurrecting his 24 Hour Psycho, originally made for Tramway in 1993, and making it into a new, two-screen work, 24 Hour Psycho: Back and Forth and To and Fro, 2008. In this revamped version the right-hand screen has been flipped over to mirror the left, the left-hand screen runs from beginning to end, and the right-hand screen runs from end to beginning. Presumably there is a moment when the two screens meet and mirror one another, but beyond this neat Rorschach effect, much like the original 24 Hour Psycho, it becomes slow and repetitive.

If Gordon's film is monotonous, Tramway's installation of new work by Swiss artist Christoph Biichel could hardly be accused of such. LAST MAN OUT TURN OFF LIGHTS, 2010, is an insidious, fictitious environment sprawled across a vast complex of shipping containers. The complex maze of rooms leading off one another make it hard work to navigate your way around. First port of call are two rival bars, one a Celtic themed pub, the other Rangers, each festooned with football memorabilia and blaring TV sets. These lead the way via a huge, intimidating door into a painstakingly hyperreal version of a British prison, complete with dormitories, a canteen and toilets, the grim attention to detail even including an autopsy room containing the disturbing remains of an operation. Past these horrors is the climax, the remains of an aircraft contained within a cavernous hangar-like space which appears to have been blown apart by a bomb. Biichel is no stranger to shock tactics but this is a particularly stark and compelling portrayal of scenarios that raise a number of pertinent and uncomfortable issues.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Further afield, Joseph Beuys's work from the ARTIST ROOMS collection has been situated in the leafy and studious university district as if to recall his distinctive academic character. The display itself, lurking ominously in the gloomy back rooms of the Hunterian Art Gallery, contains iconic sculptures held within a series of vitrines such as Fat Chair, 1964, along with some fascinating examples from his many drawing series. The walls of these back rooms are also lined with felt, echoing his recurring relationship with the material and making this dimly lit space all the more immersive. …

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