- Neil Cooper
- 15 November 2011
The contemporary of Bruce Nauman, Eva Hesse et al gets his own well-deserved retrospective
Onscreen in black and white, a man is attempting to stand a log upright of its own volition. Time and again the man methodically lifts the log off the ground, moving it from horizontal to vertical before it topples as though felled with some invisible axe. For a second it looks like it’s there, only for it to go down with a silent thump. It’s a Sisyphean task, and, as the film’s jump-cuts suggest, one that took an age. Then, finally, in what’s become an unpredictably prolonged performance, the log is up there, standing tall, proud and monumental. So what does the guy do but only go and knock it over some more.
‘Movie’ goes some way to explaining the high-tension methodology of the late Bill Bollinger, the aeronautical engineer turned 1960s New York contemporary of Bruce Nauman, Robert Ryman and Eva Hesse. Unlike those celebrated artists, Bollinger died in obscurity in 1988, aged not yet 50. This lovingly sourced retrospective, instigated by the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz in partnership with the Fruitmarket and the ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, shows how much Bollinger was a sculptural and architectural stunt-riding daredevil.
Wire-mesh sheets roll into humpbacks like a skeleton for a skate-park. A taut rope runs the length of the downstairs room, dividing it in two. Pipes lay coupled on the floor, splayed and in repose. Strung-up wires zig-zag the ceiling like a choreographed pas de deux between sail-boats.
Bill Bollinger was lost in space, both of his time and out of it. In his meticulous re-arranging of the everyday there are clear umbilical links to Martin Creed and Karla Black, both of whom have had solo shows at the Fruitmarket in the last year. As an anteroom floor is half-coated with graphite, it splits up the light and shade of a place where Bollinger left his footprint for others to follow.
Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 8 Jan.