Sunday, 4 July 2010

Beyond Words ... Beyond Reach

One of the reasons for our visit to Edinburgh last week was to pay what will probably be our last visit to the photography bookshop, Beyond Words. It's a nice little shop in the older part of Edinburgh but at the end of July it will be closing down, and the business is being transferred to the internet.

Which is a shame because it's almost the last place where you can leaf through a photography art book before you buy it. The high street bookshops just don't stock the kind of books which can motivate and inspire you in the way the books he stocks do. I know a big part of the problem is that so many of us go in just to browse, but since I got into photography, national book tokens have been in almost every xmas and birthday present from my mum and my family. The Fruitmarket gallery stocks books, but as it's a gallery it's not allowed to sell book tokens- what will my mum do now!!

In all seriousness, this is sad. It just feels like more proof that photography as an art form is being marginalised.

This feeling was further reinforced when we went in to visit the shop where I used to buy all my photo chemicals. I was under the impression that it has closed down, but recently received an email telling me that it has just moved. So we went along full of enthusiasm, but to be brutally honest it was rather embarrassing. What had been a great wee wholesale dept had been reduced to a few packets of paper (mainly RC) and some bottle on the top of a little cupboard. To be fair, the chap was very enthusiastic but to us it just seemed to be even more proof of our disappearing art.

But marginalise me if you want, I'm not going digital!!!!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Johan Grimonprez

Finally trying to get some 'quality' time together, P and I headed into Edinburgh this week so see what was on at the galleries. Unfortunately it was change over time at the Dean and GMA, so nothing new to see and we made for the Fruitmarket. And I'm very glad we did! If you get a chance, I'd really recommend going to see the Johan Grimonprez show that's currently on there.

There are a number of smaller videos but dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y and Doubletake are two longer films with specific viewing times. We were too late to see Doubletake in full (but it's out on DVD so hoping to get it from the library) but did see dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y and it was excellent:

With its premiere at Centre Pompidou and Documenta X in Kassel in 1997, it eerily foreshadowed the events of September 11th. The film tells the story of airplane hijackings since the 1970s and how these changed the course of news reporting. The movie consists of recycled images taken from news broadcasts, Hollywood movies, animated films and commercials. As a child of the first TV generation, the artist mixes reality and fiction in a new way and presents history as a multi-perspective dimension open to manipulation.

It's mesmerising. It's 68 mins long but we were so engrossed, the time flew past! The footage Grimonprez uses is both disturbing and gripping; the narration is haunting (he uses extracts from Don DeLillo's White Noise and Mao II) and some of the music is absurd - at the end, Van McCoy's Do the Hustle plays over the credits!!

It was also interesting to view this as someone old enough to remember some of the incidents used in the film.

We didn't have time to see Doubletake, but I'll let you know when I do:

Grimonprez’s film and video productions explore questions surrounding identity and doubling, fear and anxiety and draw on political incidents and the history of film-making. He frequently uses found footage, brought together to create complex and layered films. In works such as Looking for Alfred 2005 and Double Take 2009, Grimonprez has looked specifically to the work of legendary film-maker Alfred Hitchcock, focusing on Hitchcock’s presence in his own films through cameo appearances to explore the nature of doubling and repetition.