City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Galleries: Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show 2013 Review

By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 06 June 2013

Exorcism of Joseph Beuys, Dennis J. Reinmuller
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“It is the addition of strangeness to beauty which constitutes the romantic character in Art. “
- Walter Pater, Estonian exchange student, ECA.

This subtle and profound statement sums up the diverse creativity and cultural imagination flowing through many of the clever (and sometimes contrived) works of art by 500 graduates of the Edinburgh College of Art, 2013.

The Degree Show exhibition is staged around the College, along meandering corridors and through a warren of ballroom-sized studios filled with paintings, drawings, sculpture, conceptual art objects, textiles, jewellery, animation film, video and photography.

Walking into one huge room, it’s a shock to find the fully dressed “body” of a headless man, surrounded by puddles of red blood. Player One by Dennis J. Reinmüller is a fallen Superhero who has crashed back to earth with a messy splat. Taking well known images of Batman and Spiderman, his work presents a fresh, subversive perspective on fictional characters as well as serious political and social issues today.

He is inspired too by the late great Joseph Beuys, the German performance artist, sculptor and art theorist, who was invited to Edinburgh and the ECA by Richard Demarco in the 1970s. Taking the premise that his ghostly figure is still haunting the college, Reinmuller and friends, have devised a series of three videos to illustrate their journey in an attempt to exorcise the spirit of Beuys. These witty and intelligent films are part of a multi–media installation, complete with wooden sledges, to celebrate the artist’s extraordinary influence on the international language of art.

Artistic interaction is the name of the game when you step through the door of Jodie Powell’s white box bedroom, designed within a studio space. It’s like a pop up fairy tale book, inside the room of a Princess. A selection of powder paint in shot glasses is offered to spectators, who may elaborate the scene, by throwing a brightly coloured shower of dry paint over the white draped bed, floor and dressing table. My shot of emerald green powder scattered in an arc over the floor in a perfect pattern. Great fun.

Large scale furniture and models of men, women and children have been a fashionable concept for sculptors in recent years. For example, Ron Mueck whose show, including a giant new born baby, astounded visitors at the RSA a few years ago.

Here, Rebecca Ashworth takes this Alice in Wonderland distorted world of illusion, to create a gigantic pink metal fork and several oversized green peas, like bowling balls. Remember the fork as you wander onwards: around the corner is a display of T –shirts with the slogan, “Keep Calm and Fork Off”. Rebecca’s business card has the text, “For Fork Sake, Contact Me”. I think the Fork motif could take off big style: home kitchen designs, restaurant decor, menus …

ECA graduates have frequently received international recognition through BAFTA awards for Animation - a record number of students are showcasing their films in the Edinburgh International Film Festival this month. Other alumni have been nominated for and won the prestigous Turner Prize.

Humour and a sense of magical, imaginative, dream-like vision - seeing the world, culture and society with a critical, contemporary eye - have inspired many of this year’s graduates. Their names are sure to be well known in the future, through forthcoming awards and exhibitions.

Visit the ECA Degree show to see the work of the talented young artists of tomorrow - today.

1-9 June at the ECA, Lauriston Place and Minto House, Chambers Street. 10am-5pm daily; Wednesday and Thursday, late opening to 8pm.