21 September 2013

Mostly West @ Inverleith House

Let me just say this first:


Just so you know, in case, you know... you happen to be in Edinburgh, and happen to have a free Sunday, and happen to love contemporary art. Just a fair warning.


As part of a group, I trekked down to (and around) the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh this morning, but split off walked around on my own well into the afternoon. I have to admit that it really (re)awakened the sense of wonder that accompanies being in a new place. After only two weeks in this city, it feels as though I still know absolutely nothing about it and like I've been here for months already. It was like a retreat of sorts to take the bus to the botanic garden, hang out for a warm cappuccino, and check out the Inverleith House gallery's last days of Mostly West: Franz West and Artist Collaborations.

It was an awesome show. I admit that I'm kind of predisposed to love contemporary art shows because I don't study contemporary art. I also stick by the rationale that if I studied it, I would fail to, in my ignorance, be just plain pleased by it. It makes me smile. Or smirk, more often than not, because I keep thinking, "That's weird." Or "What the @#$%?" But occasionally I think, "Holy crap, that's amazing."

That's what I thought about Essenz, in collaboration with Heimo Zobernig, 1989/99.


Inverleith Houses's layout of small gallery rooms over three levels provided a really wonderful flow and arrangement of the work. As the title of the exhibition suggests, Franz West was involved in some capacity with the work, but the pieces were collaborations in various media, completed over the course of several decades. Work was loosely organized by collaboration, and related works together, but other rooms were more sparse. West himself was Austrian, born in Vienna in 1947 and working until his death in 2012. He was awarded the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 54th Venice Biennale.


Above: Joe Says, Anton Herzl, 2007.


As the incredibly friendly and helpful woman at the reception desk told me, many of the pieces were interactive, and according to the exhibition guide, "West saw art as participatory." So unsurprisingly there were switches and seats and boxes that challenge the barrier between viewer and artwork, making the viewer more of a participant than a passive passer-by. (Above: Hangover in collaboration with Anselm Reyle, 2011; Below, L-R: Girl's Imagination, 2011, and Nairobi Haute 5, 2012, both also in collaboration with Anselm Reyle).


I always love a good guestbook:

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I fell in love with this stately little house. Of course, not really very little all. Just plain lovely. I was inspired to sit for forty-five minutes or so and sketch this view of it before the clouds started to look a little too threatening to sit outside. But before I left, I made sure to catch this outdoor Franz West installation, Bateau Imaginaire, Franz West and Heimo Zobernig, 2004.


I have so many more photos of the Botanic Gardens proper that I'm excited to show you, so look out for another RBGE post soon!

Kate x

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