‘Carrageen Apparatus’ : Alex Hackett and Alix Villanueva

2018 in the Tent Gallery began with a Project Carrageenan exhibition entitled ‘Carrageen Apparatus’. This exhibition imagines and re-invents the harvesting equipment and culinary tools used by carrageeners. Playing on the idea of the makeshift, the crafted objects exist within a liminal space where myth and fact do not form a duality, but rather seem to hold a complicit role. They are informed by both archival research and the artists’ personal interactions with the seaweed, resulting in objects that are ready to receive new narratives.

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The materials used to form the apparatus are primarily seaware sourced from Scottish shores, then re-purposed, mended and transformed using preowned materials. The materiality of the exhibits reflects a way of life of those who would have interacted with carrageen on a daily basis, living by the shore and relying on what would have been available.

Carrageen is a seaweed commonly found growing on rocky coastlines around the Atlantic, particularly Western Scotland and Ireland, as well as Canada and Northern France.  Traditionally, this seaweed has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes. In Scotland, Ireland and Brittany it was cooked with milk and sweetened and flavoured with spices to make a carrageen pudding. In the past, it has also been praised for its health-giving properties, as a cough and cold cure, a hangover remedy and a stomach settler.

The show was composed of the crafted objects in the main gallery space with an accompanying series of photographic slides depicting the artists’ research and explorations at the shoreline and within the domestic.

On the Friday of the exhibition, the film “Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of Percy F. Jackson” was screened in the cinema space.  A meditative and immersive film of nature’s elusive microworlds with similarities in its abstractness and atmosphere to the exhibition. This particular event emerged out of a collaboration with artist Lee Ritchie.

 

This exhibition forms part of the wider collection of work by Project Carrageenan. Project Carrageenan sheds light on a complex human to non-human, non-human to human relationship, in all its manifestations. Tentacular by nature, the project overlays the past, present and imagined future by following the assemblage within which carrageen and the human co-exist. It does so by examining the ways in which the seaweed Carrageen, and its derivative Carrageenan, are entangled within culture, focusing on the culinary, the industrial, the medicinal, the technological and the economic, amongst other things. Project Carrageenan is an interdisciplinary artistic research project that weaves together collaborative work and play, in order to reveal real connections and, importantly, enable new ones to form.

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“Tales from the Tentacle” : Alix Villanueva

The end of term was marked by Alix Villanueva’s solo exhibition in ECA’s main building, entitled “Tales from the Tentacle”.

The show incorporated three curiosity cabinets, in which two different displays were laid out. The first one was composed of two cabinets, a vertical and a horizontal one, and was entitled “A Healing at Cramond.”

“A Healing at Cramond” is an exploration of how chronic illness comes to interact with the folkloric figure of the Cailleach— the witch figure, the healer, the old woman… A folkloric interpretation of the healer is that she does not cure ailments in the way we are accustomed to through the means of modern medicine. Rather, she points out the disharmonies between this world and the otherworld, the sacred natural. Such disharmonies are suggested to be the root cause of ill health. With that in mind, the chronic pain suffered by one becomes cosmoecological, rather than one individual person’s suffering, and concerns itself with “multiple beings, gods, animals, humans, living, and dead, each bearing the consequences of the other’s ways of living and dying” (Despret and Meuret 26).

Modern medicine does not work well with chronic pain, nor does the modern attitude attached to it, which asks for quick one-time cures for symptoms. Chronic pain is often elusive and requires a larger, holistic understanding of cause and effect, of relationships and entanglements, and requires one to look outside of the individual for answers.

“A Healing at Cramond” brought a healing ritual to the murky industrial waters of Cramond. There is no pure body of water – the crisis is ever-permeating – there is no source of refuge – where can we heal?

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The second display was entitled  “The Inventory: A Collection of Objects and their (Hi)Stories“. Each object included within this visual anthology is a tale, co-authored by various poets, human and non-human, organic and inorganic. The role of the artist then became that of the translator and editor, interpreting these tangible poems and allowing them to sit alongside each other. Together, they form a poetic corpus that tackles and weaves the intimate, the domestic alongside the environmental and the elemental. Each object in the cabinet was matched with a text in the poetic inventory.

 

Works Cited:

Ó Crualaoich, Gearóid. The Book of the Cailleach: Stories of the Wise Woman Healer. Cork University Press, 2006.

Despret, V. and Meuret, M. “Cosmoecological Sheep and the Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet.” Journal of Environmental Humanities, vol. 8, no.1, 2016, pp. 24-36.

AJ ARCHITECTURE JOURNAL AWARDS

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The Dunbar Battery Project by rankinfraser, was awarded the best budget project of 2017 at the AJ awards at the Grosvenor Hotel in London.

The work incorporates a major new public artwork, SEA CUBES, by ASN Programme Director, Donald Urquhart.  

Chris Rankin and Kenny Fraser ( rankinfraser landscape architects ) are colleagues in Edinburgh Schools of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) at the University of Edinburgh.

https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/story.aspx?storyCode=10025952

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BLUE, a projected work by Mungki Dewi

As part of an ongoing research project, the urban landscape at West Port, Edinburgh was transformed by an impressive film work this week.

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Aiming to stop and slow passers-by down, a film piece entitled ‘BLUE’ was back-projected within the first floor of Evolution House. The four glass panels were transformed into a huge projection screen showing the movement of calming waves. The scale of the work was monumental in order to achieve the mesmeric effect perceived from the imposing trait of an ocean.

The works gentle pace and movement set a visual counterpoint to the frantic pace of life in the street below, both calming the spectator and raising conscientious of the natural world.  

Microscapes

Earlier this month, the ASN 1 students held an impressive exhibition in the studio & Tent Gallery spaces looking at the specific environment of the Flow Country in the North of Scotland.
The work is an initial response to the peatland restoration project following a field trip at the RSPB reserve at Forsinard in Sutherland.

Art, Space + Nature Fieldtrip to Forsinard

The students have just returned from an intensive, one week, field trip to the
RSPB peatland restoration project in Sutherland, following a tour through
the Highlands.
ASN students spent just under a week in Forsinard exploring the environment.
The Flow Country’s landscape is unique. Although it may be subtle in
appearance, it is abundant with life and is a very diverse ecosystem. The
restoration project faces many obstacles and to encourage a larger
enthusiasm towards the landscape, the ASN students will produce a series of
artist books responding to the trip and develop work for exhibition.
The research is a component of the Flows to the Future project
http://www.theflowcountry.org.uk/about-us/flows- to-the- future/

As well as the peatland restoration the students also looked at the wider
cultural landscape, including a visit to a 5,000 year old burial chambered cairn in the company of the poet, George Gunn.