Jurergen Teller – Awailable (4 stars)

Jurergen Teller - Awailable

Royal Botanic Gardens (Inverleith House), Edinburgh, until Sun 15 Apr


Being held up as a revolutionary is too often a bittersweet plaudit, as for every voice championing your revolutionary zeal there are others queuing up to stake their claim first or rubbish the argument. Such praise has cast no shadow on the photography of Juergen Teller however, who - along with Wolfgang Tillmans and Terry Richardson - is regularly credited with turning the whole notion of fashion photography on its head in the 1990s. His work for the likes of i-D, The Face and Vogue, and on advertising campaigns for the likes of Stüssy, Helmut Lang and Katherine Hamnett were considerable, and this slight, but affecting collection makes up his first Scottish show, which is something of an anti-greatest hits.
The exhibition is grudgingly brief given Teller’s international stature. The ground floor is instead given over to Scottish sculptor Andrew Miller’s first solo Scottish exhibition centred on a pair of spectacular wooden structures meticulously reproduced from photographs of a shack he discovered in Trinidad.
Upstairs we are initially confronted with a cement-pallored Vivienne Westwood and a shot which captures Marilyn Manson prostrate over a naked Dita Von Teese hint at his high profile resumé, but he resists star spotting, favouring an eclectic mix of still life, portraiture and candid snappery, all of which give an exemplify the slightly translucent, haunted qualities of his photography.
To use a filmmaking analogy, if David LaChappelle is Baz Luhrmann and Rankin is Ridley Scott, then Teller is Lars Von Trier. Singular in vision, doggedly determined to show the world from his gaze but retaining real heart.
Teller’s shots of Japanese snow storms have a patient beauty and are perhaps the most compelling of the exhibition while, on a joyfully different tack, Gisele Büncdhen in the bath paired with fashionista snake charmer Olivier (pictured) keep a watchful eye on the pictures of children scattered around the room, the centrepiece being a portrait of his son Ed as a baby, be-jewelled and glammed up in a Motörhead babygro. This ramshackle nuclear family seem to sum up Teller’s sweetly skewed take on the world: simultaneously oddly domestic, bravely esoteric, chic and darkly funny.

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