Visual art review: Summerhall's spring shows
- Neil Cooper
- 18 February 2014
Featuring the work of Stefan Roloff, Ian Hughes, Colin Jarvie, Harry Papadopoulos & Kevin Williamson
Loss, migration, the Holocaust and a strange form of post-apocalyptic euphoria filter in various ways through the nine new exhibitions at Summerhall. The former is seen most explicitly in Kindness of Strangers, the first UK show by German-American artist Stefan Roloff, whose large-scale video installation charts the story of two refugees – a Sudanese woman and an Iranian man – in Berlin. This sits evocatively beside shadowed interviews with people describing their ideal world, and an exploration of the detention of Roloff's father by the Gestapo.
The anonymity of Roloff's subjects is reflected in the black-and-white imagery of Karin Gunnarsson's Apparitions, while the array of Beuysian detritus in Ian Hughes' remarkable Unearthed Tongues Set Free mixes religious iconography with images from the Holocaust to give real-life events dignity and power.
Oddly, Peter Gabriel provides a link between Roloff and Hughes. While Hughes has provided album artwork for him, Roloff's video piece, 'Face', was produced by him, with Gabriel using it as a prototype for the video that accompanied 'Sledgehammer'. The retrospective of photographic works by the late Colin Jarvie (In Praise of Shadows) is a travelogue of light, which complements The Edited take on Harry Papadopoulos' celebrated images of Scotland's post-punk scene between 1979 and 1984. This seems to erupt on to the dancefloor of Love To Love You Baby, Kevin Williamson's filmic responses to eight songs by Donna Summer as produced by Giorgio Moroder, the German who revolutionised dance music for a post-war alliance between Europe and America that brought a generation back to pulsing, neon-driven life.
Summerhall, Edinburgh, until Sat 22 Mar.