Ten art exhibitions to see at the Edinburgh Art Festival 2014

By Ben Miller | 09 July 2014

More than 100 artists take to dozens of venues across Edinburgh in the 11th edition of the city's Art Festival this August. Here are ten for starters

An image of a digital art work showing a young woman in profile
Donna Leishman, Front (2014)© Donna Leishman
Alt-w, New Media Scotland, July 31 – August 30

Funded by their hosts, these new works by the digitally dextrous include a 360-degree video hologram on relationships, an update on Scottish cornicing in the ceiling, a wellbeing-based installation which aims to make children feel inspired and a board game inviting players to influence a casket-encased microcosm by rearranging sculpted pieces.

An image of various small circular electronic components connected by wires in parallel
Yann Seznec, Currents (2014)© Yann Seznec
Yann Seznec: Currents, Police Box, Easter Road, July 31 – August 31

An artist and musician keen on using technology to reveal usually-imperceptible natural processes, Yann Seznec has taken discarded computer fans – seeing them as symbols of a change-obsessed society, as well as a wasteful global economy – to create an installation which moves air around the visitor. It’s based on real-time weather data and accompanied by performances by the artist (accompanied, naturally, by the Yann Seznec Fan Club) on August 2 and 3.

A photo of various naked female figures appearing to float around and above clouds
Genesis and Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge© Genesis and Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge
Genesis and Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge: Life as a Cheap Suitcase (Pandrogeny and A Search for a Unified Identity); Susan Hiller: Re-Sounding, Summerhall, August 1 – September 26

In Pandrogyne, an explicit splurge of imagery, this pair of avant-garde artists put their bodies on the creative lines, as well as religious iconography, pictures of the Royal Family and a general underlying sense of disdain at the concept of the Big Society. Combining sound frequencies and visual patterns from the Big Bang’s radio wave emissions, Hiller’s new video plays out accounts of cosmology, dreams, extra-terrestrial experiences and the visionary.

An image of a room with walls covered in colourful patterns and cut-out shapes
Rushton and Tyman, Flaghall (2005). Mixed media. Part of Where do I end and you Begin© Rushton and Tyman
Where do I end and you Begin, City Art Centre, August 1 – October 19

Community, common-wealth and the commons are the themes for five curators from Commonwealth countries, taking their exhibition’s title from a darkness-enshrined Shilpa Gupta neon and featuring more than 20 artists across four floors of the Art Centre. Look out for off-site works at the Old Royal High School, Regent Road and other public sites in the city.

A close-up photo of an eye against various colours
Nalini Malani, In Search of Vanished Blood (2014). Video still© Nalini Malani
Nalini Malani: In Search of Vanished Blood, Scottish National Gallery, August 4

Part of the nationwide Lights Out and the World War I Centenary Art Commissions for the anniversary of the conflict, Nalini Malani presents a world of solution-less, ongoing wars in which we are all embroiled. Affected by her childhood experience of India’s Partition and inspired by Cassandra, the unheard prophet of doom in ancient Greek mythology, this large-scale projection will cover the western façade of the gallery’s Mound.

An image of a painting showing a boat with a man sailing towards a mountain by a sea
Leon Morrocco RSA RGI, Passing Basiluzzo, Sicily (2004)© Leon Morrocco
Leon Morrocco; Keith McCarter; Scottish Masters, Open Eye Gallery, August 11 – September 6

A triple-bill of intriguing variety: Morrocco, the grandson of Italian Scottish immigrants, presents triptychs from decades of nomadism (including a spell as a Head of Fine Art in Melbourne), while McCarter’s steel and bronze sculptures include a cast of the working model for The Observer, the full-scale version of which stands in Washington DC. It’s all accompanied by prints and paintings from post-war artists such as Elizabeth Blackadder and Alan Davie.

A photo of a group of young people wearing t-shirts which have music slogans on them
Ross Sinclair, 20 Years of Real Life (2014)© Courtesy Collective. Photo: Ross Sinclair
Ross Sinclair: 20 Years of Real Life, Collective, until August 31

It’s 20 years since Glasgow-born Ross Sinclair began his Real Life projects, but age seems to neither demoralise the artist nor detract from his energies. He’s launching a project to establish new bands for the under-20s alongside this exhibition, which is part of the vast Generation series of exhibitions revolving around the past 25 years of Scottish contemporary art.

A photo of a large black piano in a room with floorboards and a tape deck next to it
Katie Paterson, Earth Moon Earth (Moonlight Sonata Reflected from the Surface of the Moon) (2007)© Courtesy Katie Paterson
Katie Paterson: Ideas, Ingleby Gallery, until September 27

We know Katie Paterson as an artist with an eye on the stars and the history of the planet – her works are made of melted meteorites, and Fossil Necklace, for which she won this year’s South Bank Sky Arts Award, uses a string of beads to capture moments along Earth’s timeline. This show includes the culmination of a project by Paterson to orbit a fragment of the moon around earth on an airfreight courier, and a summer-long performance of an earlier work, Earth-Moon-Earth, is also at Jupiter Artland.

A photo of an explosion of colours
Ellie Harrison, The History of Revolution: Ellie Harrison's Fireworks Display (2010)© Ellie Harrison. Photo: Paul Knight
Ellie Harrison: After the Revolution, who will Clean up the Mess?, Talbot Rice Gallery, until October 18

For her first 48 days at Talbot Rice, provocateur Ellie Harrison will lie dormant, ready to unleash four streamer cannons connected to a central activation switch labelled yes/no. On the night of the Scottish Independence Referendum, Harrison will allow the public to decide her work’s fate: a no vote will yield nothing but inactivity, whereas a yes will prompt a massive explosion, sending streamers shooting everywhere. The debris will be left in the gallery until the end of the run, left wherever it lands. Part of Counterpoint.

An image of a painting of a Chinese man from centuries ago wearing a hat against yellow
Portrait of He. From Ming: The Golden Empire© Nanjing Museum, Nomad Exhibitions
Ming: The Golden Empire, National Museum of Scotland, until October 19

Part of an important cultural link-up between Britain and China, the only UK showing of these Ming treasures, on loan from Nanjing Museum, includes signature blue and white porcelain, rarities demonstrating the wealth and opulence of the imperial court, paintings of Beijing’s Forbidden City and portraits of an elite between 1368 and 1644.

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