Ross Fraser McLean @ Diaosu
Diaosu Limited inhabits a small shop front in Dundee’s Hilltown, hosting a variety of art and community projects. Its current venture in this somewhat unprepossessing space is a collection of images by the photographer and local fixture Ross Fraser McLean, taken on a visit to Budapest in 2010. Hung Salon-style across three walls, the photos are split thematically between tranquil, sunlit street scenes and the impassive memorials inside Kerepesi Cemetery. These sepulchral sculptures are depicted in muted tones inside wooden frames or on large black mounts, the silent stone figures keeping a watchful eye on the Hungarian capital’s thriving street life.
The downtown photos portray a dynamic European metropolis. Brash colours and cartoony texts bark loudly from Budapest’s shop window displays, while happy families enjoy a pleasant sunny day out in the park. Cars cruise along city roads beneath the grand Buda Castle. A girl descends an escalator, bound for the Budapest Metro. All of the scenes were captured on 35mm film and they encapsulate something of the urban sprawl’s warmth. The graveyards have a markedly different ambiance. The photographer explains that this is due to the way light is captured on 6x7 film: “These images take into consideration the process and production of a photographic object as a memorial.”
McLean’s photos have documented his travels around the world, with Japan, China, USA, Turkey, Russia and India all being devoured by the camera. The photos presented in Zwack: Life & Death & Budapest show a curatorial rigour that’s newly matured, a reflective aspect revealed alongside the work’s undoubted technical achievements. [Ben Robinson]