Johanna Billing (4 stars)

Johanna Billing

Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, until Sun 4 Nov


There are many ways of going round an exhibition. Some might favour a more linear, systematic approach, whilst others prefer to flit around randomly, driven by intuition. But some shows demand more from the viewer in this respect, and at Johanna Billing’s exhibition at DCA we are forced to take a ‘butterfly’ approach, dipping in and out of the many simultaneously running films. The first room is fairly sedate with the long running film ‘Another Album’ (2006), playing on a cinematic screen, slowly revealing young beatnik types lazily playing the guitar in the sunshine. But the second room opens out into a smorgasbord of filmic activity, with tiny DVD players scattered across a large table showing a different band playing the strange song ‘You Don’t Love me Yet’.

Perhaps most domineering is the installed film ‘Where She is At’ (2001), where the screen is placed on top of a large tower construction. Within the film a young woman balances atop a similar diving tower, 15 metres high, tentatively peering over the edge before eventually diving into the deep murky water below. The cinematography in nearly every shot is arrestingly beautiful, yet this moment of freedom seems somehow anti-climactic. Billing says of this denouement: ‘She had to do it . . . or it would have been a failure.’ Neither film nor documentary, all her films create a similar unease and anticipation that seems so redolent of the angst-ridden generation she represents.

Johanna Billing

  • 4 stars

Solo show of socially engaging video work by the Swedish artist, in which she documents changes ocurring in the contemporary world and meditates on how they affect individuals.

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