They Had Four Years @ Generator Projects, 19 May-10 Jun
Every year, Generator Projects in Dundee showcases emerging talent from art schools across Scotland. Hand-picked by the gallery’s committee, the selected artists represent the very finest of last year’s graduating students, and this year as ever those on show reflect a distinctly varied cross-section of the art-making community, with sculpture, video and photography on display.
Romany Dear’s video installation, March your feet up and down – This has the potential to become a very political exercise, is the most compelling work on show at this year’s exhibition. Imagine if a dictator made an exercise video (which Hugo Chavez apparently did last year); this is what it would look like. It shows six similarly dressed women marching on the spot to a rudimentary techno beat. As the music becomes more elaborate the women’s movements too become more gestural.
It’s utterly hypnotic. The women seem empowered by their actions, but only to the same extent as their actions dehumanise them. There’s little direct eye contact between viewer and performer, and there seems to be no evidence of enjoyment on their part. They simply march out their beat proficiently, as though part of a homogenous mass.
Calvin Laing makes humorous work made all the funnier by his seeming earnestness. Dressed like an out-of-work Austrian clerk from the 1920s, Laing films himself clumsily walking into water – the Firth of Forth, for instance – where he disappears, and like Bas Jan Ader before him, we can’t tell if Laing is consumed by a body of water or his own self-mythology.
Neil Nodzak has made a walkway through which we enter the gallery. Simply a wooden frame with painted chipboard attached, it is unclear what it is meant to represent or evoke in the viewer. His wall-mounted sculptures are far more interesting. Trompe-l’oeil shapes hang a few inches from the wall painted in pastel shades of blue and green. They are pleasing to look at.