7
Aug 03

AFTER IMAGE The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 170 views

(until 27 September.)

Sorry to say, but the Fruitmarket’s festival exhibition leaves me cold this year. I’m sure I’ll end up popping back in, so I’ll get a chance to think again, but today the work of the four female photographers showcased here (Simryn Gill, Ana Mendieta, Cindy Sherman and Francesca Woodman) just didn’t seem to come together for me.

I wonder if the trouble is that what their work has in common (all photographs — and all made by women) is a lot less exciting than what singles each of them out. The exhibit blurb makes out this is a whistle-stop history of recent feminist art theory: but the historicising of the exhibition (a follows b follows c etc.) neutralises the work for me.

True, I don’t often go a bundle on photography — I guess because I distrust ‘the real’ but am equally jaded with attempts to put it into question. And I’ve never ‘got’ Sherman either. The 70s conceptualism of Mendieta didn’t translate into artifact well enough for me; Woodman’s work I found the most powerful, mainly candidly mystifying (go figure!) snapshots, gathered mostly from her college work, we were told. The implied voyeurism they all invited certainly drew me in, but I wasn’t sure quite where to. Gill’s study of Malaysian interiors I do want to go back and see again, but at first viewing it felt as empty as the living rooms she shot.

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