Moment. The Bale of Jute Project.

April 2000

Publication: The Times


Playing nicely on the double meaning of its title, as relating to time and import, ‘Moment’ brings together  a number of artists whose work shares certain common characteristics.  These include both medium and approach because most of the artists work with film and photographic images and all, in a sense, explore the poetry of the everyday.

In the film ‘American Beauty’ one of the characters finds heightened aesthetic experience in the observation of litter as is blows in the wind.  It is tempting to suppose that Igor and Svetlana Kopystiansky’s film of garbage blowing about on the streets of New York may have inspired Sam Mendes.  One of the film’s odder moments shows two pieces of cardboard which appear almost animate as they move in a strange ballet across the concrete pavement.

Marijke van Warmerdam’s looped film ‘Skytypers’ shows five light aircraft whose orchestrated smoke-trails appear as abstract drawing against a clear blue sky.  The lack of a skyline and any other intrusion, including a soundtrack Ñ forces attention on the patterns which have been carefully choreographed by the artist.

Fischli’s and David Weiss’s compelling 30 minute film, made between 1985 and 87, is  great fun as well as strangely unsettling.  It shows a series of Heath Robinson-esque contraptions which set off explosions, collisions and fires.  These chains of events have been carefully arranged in the artists’ studio and use the flotsam of every day life as their source material, tyres, balloons, bottles and pieces of scrap wood.  The sheer inventiveness of the processes and sequences is remarkable and it is little surprise that the film was two years in the making.

Graham Gussin has filmed moviegoers in the foyer of his local cinema  as they leave the darkness of the auditorium.  The film has been reversed and superimposed on itself, so that the images run backwards and forwards simultaneously, only the building remains static.  The result shows a series of ghostly and ephemeral figures who come and go, each mutually oblivious to the other’s presence.  Again, the work finds the extraordinary in the ordinary.


In a collaborative project between the jute manufacturer Verdant Works, the National Museums of Scotland and Dundee Contemporary Arts, the weaver Anna King has been commissioned to explore Dundee’s historic links with the jute industry.  King has worked for many months, using one of the last bales of raw jute to arrive in Dundee.

Her work falls into three categories, small coiled forms, tapestries and an installation in the shape of a tent.  The full series of works can be seen later in the year, but the present sample is intriguing.

King’s small and delicate baskets also contain found objects, such as shells, feathers and glass and have been stitched with linen, silk and other materials.  These are not functional  but instead act as metaphors Ñ the receptacles of memory. The have a poetic narrative, too, exemplified by King’s writing:  “In and out, up and down/ Inexorably/ You have woven your thread/ Through, round and beyond/ Our lives.”



Until May 20

The Bale of Jute Project

Until May 28


Dundee Contemporary Arts

152 Nethergate


01382 432000

Tues - Sun 10.30 - 5.30

Thurs and Fri  - 8.00pm


Published in The Times, Around the Galleries, 12-04-00