188th RSA Annual Exhibition: Focus on Film
An expansive and essential Scottish film art showcase, featuring Rachel Maclean and Peter Capaldi
Perhaps the biggest criticism that can be levelled at this year’s Royal Scottish Academy annual members’ exhibition is that there’s almost too much to soak up. Between the vast submission-based selection upstairs and the curated rooms downstairs, there are more than 350 works to take in. Even to narrow it down to the latter, a group of Scottish works on film and video curated by Ronald Forbes, RSA, is to expose oneself to plenty of hours of viewing.
Many of the films are grouped into hour-long loops by theme and purpose. One group demonstrates Form and Structure: Time and Place, including Sam Spreckley’s mesmeric, metronomic study of dozens of dandelion clocks being incinerated by a lighter, and Sam Firth’s split-screen, decades-separated car journey, ‘Stay the Same’. Another split-screen meditation on time elapsed is Murray Grigor’s mesmerising and essential ‘Space and Light Revisited’, tracing the architectural degradation of St Peter’s Seminary, near Cardross.
A narrative-based loop features Peter Capaldi’s Oscar-winning Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life and ex-Beta Bander John Maclean’s Pitch Black Heist, while there’s space for John Byrne’s brutally degraded but historically striking arthouse autobiography ‘Byrne On Byrne’, as well as a selection of documentaries and music videos, including Errors’ ‘Pleasure Palaces’ as imagined by Rachel Maclean (her ‘Lolcats’ is here too). Also featuring artists including Graham Fagen, Dalziel + Scullion and Ruth Paxton, this is an expansive and essential tour through the highlights of Scottish film art and short filmmaking from recent years. It’s very highly recommended, if a little cluttered, but you may want to take lunch.
Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, until Sun 4 May.