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Streetlevel Photoworks, Glasgow
2 September 11 October
Reviewed by: Susannah Thompson »
In 'Superficial or Inherent', an exhibition composed of digital drawings, photographs and projected computer animations on the general theme of identity, Julie Read has wisely chosen not to embellish the exhibition's title with a question mark; if she had, the response could be all too obvious.
Overall, there's really nothing wrong with this show. It's serious and well presented, technically impressive and austere; yet this doesn't result in a particularly engaging, far less exciting, exhibition. While the technical aspects are fleetingly diverting, the subject and content can be absorbed in a cursory glance despite the grandiose, high-brow claims of the accompanying essay by Ruth Pelzer-Montada, which is erudite but heavy-going. In gallery one, O S Forms is a series of eight digital drawings taken from the casts of navels. The title encourages the viewer to 'read' the body as a map and, true to form, the forms do appear topographical. Opposite is Skin, colour photographs of skin embossed with words or isolated snatches of identity such as '20.10.88' '9 stone' and 'Clapham'. These re-tread familiar territory (barcodes, tattoos, holding placards) and are not as poignant or intellectual as they are perhaps intended to be.
In gallery two hopes are raised by the intriguing washes of sound emanating from beneath the curtained entrance. Two large-scale projections on opposite walls work as a dialogue, depicting animations of navels which emerge and recede to the sound of breathing. The heightened noise of breathing is as effective in communicating ideas surrounding maternity, the body, childhood, and the formation of identity as the animations themselves.
The exhibition appears to be playing with that peculiar sense of detachment we can feel when looking at intimate, but de-personalised, images of the body and it does achieve this goal, but in a small way.
Street Level Photoworks »
Trongate 103, GLASGOW G1 5HD
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