Summerhall is delighted to present its visual arts programme on the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival, an event that was created “to heal the wounds of war”.
In homage to this founding principle the programme focuses on the ways art addresses sociopolitical changes and documents conflict. The exhibitions feature interdisciplinary practices of experimental artists who respond to the challenges of mass migration, the rise in nationalism and comment on evolving belief systems. They often draw on intimate individual experiences of the past and current events.
One of the artists we invited this year is Alastair MacLennan: one of Britain’s main practitioners of live art. His retrospective including drawings (referencing the Northern Irish Troubles), performance artifacts and video documentation accompanied by two durational performances. Continuing our collaboration with University of Dundee we show European Women’s Video Art in the 70s and 80s: a unique project aiming to recover and reassess the seminal contribution of women artists to early video art in Europe and more generally to the development and evolution of video as a then relatively new medium.
Original combinations of industrial materials and processes are present in Liliane Lijn’s works – an artist recognised for pioneering the interaction of art, science and technology. Her Early Events exhibition is the UK premiere of the narrative sculptures created in search of her past.
The past and history are revisited also in Return: in search of stillness. Brought by Colombo Art Biennale this exhibition presents a multi-media visual representation of Sri Lanka, delivering a visual trajectory of catharsis, displacement, exit and stillness that reflect global consequences of war. Sura Medura Arts Centre, also from Sri Lanka shows the artists from all over the world engaging with the unique environment and communities of the island.
Summerhall in collaboration with Sian Mackay also present portrayals of World War II in the forgotten work of Rudolph von Ripper – painter, printmaker and contemporary of George Grosz and Otto Dix.
The evocative images of war are also the main subject of drawings by Muirhead Bone – Britain’s first official war artist.
Commenting on the current political issues in Britain and the USA artist Jane Frere created two murals of protest art. Responding to Donald Trump’s electoral victory and Brexit she invites the audience to actively engage and interact with her works. The provocative spirit of street art is also present in Richard Lees’ This Is Hull! Rock Against Racism Posters – a retrospective of original silk screen prints, representing a community fight against racism.
The importance of the community-led initiatives is a focal point of Protestimony – an exhibition created as a platform for refugees in Europe to represent themselves, using artworks and other material created by those who lived in the Calais Jungle to challenge mainstream media rhetoric.
Another act of challenging media was an action undertaken forty years ago by a group of 7 artists who, concerned about the impact of violence in the media, climbed the 7 largest suspension bridges in New York. Bridging drew the attention of major national and international press and TV and was described by Joseph Beuys as “the first social sculpture to use Mass Media as art”. To mark its 40th anniversary, video documentation of this project, along with Joseph Beuys’ artifacts, is part of the exhibition curated by Robert McDowell.
Summerhall is also home of the extensive archives created by Richard Demarco: artist, gallery director and teacher. Demarco has been closely involved with the Edinburgh International Festival for years and introduced Joseph Beuys and many other avantgarde artists to Scotland. We are delighted to announce that Demarco European Art Foundation opens its door to those keen on exploring them and one of its corridors turns into the gallery where Rose Frain shows her installation This Time in History, What Escapes: an artistic response to the situation in Afghanistan.
We are also revisiting history of Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. Curated by Glyn Thompson, Elsa in Philadelphia sheds new light on the life of this pioneer feminist artist. It is shown along our permanent exhibition A Lady’s Not A Gent’s created by Thompson and Julian Spalding.
Exhibitions details available here
3rd August – 24th September 2017 (September closed on Mondays)
2nd August 2017
18:00 – 21:00