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Collective and other locations, Edinburgh
5 October 3 November
Reviewed by: Rosie Lesso »
N55 is the curious name of a Danish artists collective, derived from both a street name and the latitude of Copenhagen, their home city. Highly critical of the inequality brought on by consumerist society, they instead promote sharing and the free interchange of goods. Previous projects include setting up a shop for free exchange in Glasgows CCA, so as expected this project with Collective Gallerys One Mile Programme is a well meaning socialist one. The Danish artist Ion Forvin has spearheaded the random distribution of seven plastic, odd looking tetrahedral shaped dispensers throughout Edinburgh for the month of October, each containing a pile of explanatory leaflets. The idea is that inhabitants use the dispensers for the exchange of goods, leaving or taking items such as books, clothing and food.
The project was introduced in other cities in Europe and the US, resulting in some great success stories like in Chicago, where a box was filled with potatoes for poor families to help themselves to, and was so popular that even now it remains a pick-up point for food. So trekking around the city to visit the various scattered sites I was quietly optimistic. However, first stop outside the Collective Gallery and the container had been worked over with graffiti, the plastic cover and handle ripped off, and inside only a rusty old nail. At the City Library the dispenser was clean and intact, but containing only a few leaflets: it did not seem to be in use. Middle Meadow Walk proved the most disappointing yet, where the top half of the dispenser was missing, the bottom heaped with mud and litter. And outside the St James Centre I found a container full to the brim with Burger King cups and wrappers.
Whilst the gallery claim a manner of objects have been exchanged via the dispensers, the general public consensus towards this altruistic and generous project seems to have been disappointingly apathetic. But perhaps N55 could have been more instructive in conjuring up a public relationship with the unfamiliar objects and people might have been more willing to take part.
Rosie writes about contemporary art for a number of UK based journals.
Collective Gallery »
22-28 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh EH1 1NY
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