Emma Nellies of Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art and Design reviews this years offering for the Degree Show 2016.
Wandering around the work of this year’s DJCAD graduates before the award plaques go up is a new and somewhat freeing experience. A dauntless spectator may attempt at a few guesses, but this year the work is so varied in media and approach that it’s even difficult to label it under course names; deep reverberating sounds and extensive processes radiate from the Art Philosophy and Contemporary Practice students whilst the Fine Art students’ work oozes complex ideologies. The Time Based Art & Digital Film work is sprinkled throughout the building, granting this year’s Degree Show a cohesive feel that fits well with showcasing such a close knit, collaborative year.
In one of the Crawford building’s bright, open rooms, Helen King’s (APCP) immaculate blueprints peek out from behind the massive concrete slab that both greets and blocks you upon entering. Coming to notice how precariously the piece balances causes a tinge of doubt towards the supposedly stable walls around you. Combat this doubt against the blueprints, and they begin to act as a warrant for the Brutal Modernist architecture tropes; old-school, time consuming processes take precedence over new technologies and a long spent thought becomes the documentation and justification of one side of a polarized opinion. The concrete proves itself, standing tall in the foreground.
Juxtapose King’s solid concrete slab with Sandra Schneider’s (Fine Art) evocative study on language; Schneider’s clicking tongue and slow, purposeful poetry fill the room as much as any matter, concrete or human. The vibe is more like a 70s living room and feels like a living, tactile set of a Svankmajer film. Tongues burgeon from the unassuming, floral wallpaper like moulding mushrooms and, although the soft light from the lamp and dark wood may make you feel at home, illusions of puddles and wet patches deter you from taking a seat. The subtly dominating sound of a trickling leak (or ‘bubbly saliva’) give the feel that this room, a metaphor for language itself, is weakened and weakening and the voice plays the part of the foundations and the leak causing all the destruction.
Fulfilling Dundee’s recent appetite for graphic, psychedelic murals, Veera Krouglov’s fun-filled room contains all the characters you would want to meet on a dark night. The life-size doodles and miniature ceramic creatures invoke a childishly mature personality, as though Krouglov has managed to embody the exact behind-the-scenes sensibility of concealed adult humour in a kids TV show.
Hazel Holloway deploys the term ‘physical empathy’, exploring her bodily self-awareness in restricted material work, and Eve Kerr’s filmed performance ‘Clay Kavala Graha’ displays a metaphoric extraction of artistic intuition through pure material. Shifting from materiality to the screen, ‘Elsewhere’, a beautiful short film by Sean Forsyth (Fine Art) and Ewan T Gibson (TBA), brings forth a celebration of the landscape on our doorstep through the ingenuity of unexpected interaction between a Fox and a Crow. The strong array of films this year is not to be missed on the big screen, showcasing on Wednesday the 25th of May at the DCA.
As far as guessing games go, the RSA Awards are a tough one to call. One room stands out as a tough competitor, housing the work of Kieran Milne and Thomas Stephenson (both Fine Art). On Milne’s side of the room, light streams in from the big old windows into a space as sleek and calm as an office in the Netherlands. Serene tones of Riso green prevail throughout the publications, houseplants and wall pieces, and exit signs act as an invitation for escape through the black kissing gate in the foreground. In Thomas Stephenson’s work, the name ‘wood burning stove’ manifests literally, at first glance beautifully and traditionally constructed, yet a strong satirical warning emanates from within; an uncompromising illustration of the destructive passivity we undertake in the daily living of our lives.
One thing that shines throughout this years’ Degree Show is an unwavering awareness of the artists’ surroundings, into which each work proclaims a corner of it’s own. An undoubtedly outstanding show from the graduates, Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art and Design will keep you roaming for hours. It’s open until the 29th of May and the work’s above are just a small selection from the many, many memorable works on show from the emerging talent that is the class of 2016.
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design continues until 29 May in Dundee. Find out more information online here.
See more Degree Show reviews on Central Station here.