Publication: April 2014
The Modern Institute
Beatriz Santiago Muñoz
Across Glasgow, the work of three artists makes particular use of photography, video and digital technology.
Berlin-based Aleksandra Domanović, born in Serbia in 1981, offers a critique of the way women are represented in science fiction films. This in turn opens out into a wider discussion of gender and technology. Once you have worked your way past the now common, but unnecessary, international art jargon, that introduces the work, it turns out to be fun, engaging and, at points, thought-provoking.
A series of huge transparent plastic banners, draped from the elegant Corinthian columns in the gallery’s ground-floor, depict various sci-fi images. These include a space-station (with a cargo of tumbling apples), a wheelchair complete with prosthetic arm, strange robotic creatures like giant insects, as well as a transparent diagnostic and surgical chamber. Some seem vaguely familiar, as if gleaned from an amalgam of imagery seen in films such as Bladerunner.
But it’s only when another fiction appears ¾ a ‘letter’, purporting to have been written in 1938, from a Walt Disney executive ¾ that some of Domanović’s other concerns become clear. “Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen….” states the letter. Although the information seems inconsequential it forms part of a much bigger narrative where women’s roles were sub-ordinated to those of men.
US-artist Anne Collier, born in 1973, makes complex philosophical observations on the nature and history of photography. Her medium is limited edition, poster-sized photographic prints that often deal with the way women are depicted in photography. Collier’s work is layered, mature, considered and often includes images of women behind the lens. An example is ‘Woman With A Camera (Persona) 2013’, which takes it title from the Ingmar Bergman’s 1967 film starring Liv Ullmann. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that one of the pre-eminent commentators on photography, Susan Sontag, apparently considered Persona as the best film ever made.
Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, born in 1972, has made the disused US naval base, Roosevelt Roads, Ceiba in her native Puerto Rico the subject of her video works. These show how the forest has once again encroached on the military infrastructure that was abandoned in 2004. Muñoz has linked these images with the naval base at Faslane on the Clyde, via a recording on a vinyl ‘lp’. The work is given greater currency because the of increasingly heated debate about the role of nuclear weapons in an independent Scotland. While Muñoz’s Post Military Cinema is potentially arresting, it rarely rises above the level of the pedestrian.
Taken together, these shows demonstrate the wide range of international photographically derived art, both in subject matter and quality.