(hi)STORY: Viewing the Old Town from Hermione’s window (3 stars)

Art and architecture meet philosophy and psychiatry from Klas Hyllen

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(hi)STORY: Viewing the Old Town from Hermione’s window

Art and architecture meet philosophy and psychiatry in Klas Hyllen’s well-researched body of work, beautifully presented within SCHOP’s small gallery – size is unimportant when the viewer is confronted with complex theories and varying 2D works and installations.

At the heart of this exhibition is Hermione, the daughter of Menelaus and Helen in Greek mythology, later explored in some depth by French writer/philosophers Foucault and Racine with regards to themes of madness and non-being. Here Hermione becomes a metaphor for Edinburgh’s Old Town, with Hyllen exploring the heart of the capital through a series of works ranging from graphite rubbings of the ground to wonderfully overlaid digital photographs. Hermione herself is revealed in the centre of the room, a meticulously thought-out and constructed footprint of black shapes suspended above a mirror. Further work researches the opinions of 60 of the Old Town’s inhabitants in ‘Voices from the City’, delivered through a small MP3 player set into a mixed media construction – a fantastical architectural model.

The strength of the exhibition lies in the body of background research. Hyllen has spent time exploring every avenue available to describe his theme, and his accompanying explanations may be confusing, but half the joy (and challenge) is attempting to understand the multi-disciplinary threads of thought. Several references are made to madness, and he even expresses the idea that he is ‘putting the city on the (psychiatrist’s) couch’. And there it may remain there for several years of therapy.

SCHOP Gallery, Edinburgh, until Fri 15 Oct

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