Simon Faithfull - Ice Blink

These images stimulate our imaginations all the more on account of their charming clumsiness

Article by Jay Shukla | 16 May 2006

Combining photography, drawing and film, this exhibition documents artist Simon Faithfull's residency with the British Antarctic Survey. Crude, pixellated sketches, executed on a palm pilot, illustrate his journey to and from Antarctica and speak of Faithfull's resolute desire to record the minutiae of his experience in the face of terribly adverse conditions. These are strangely affecting images, the blocky, basic outlines of animals, friends and his environment stimulating our imaginations all the more on account of their charming clumsiness. Elsewhere, a close-up film of the bow of the RSS Ernest Shackleton breaking through the sea-ice takes on a terrific abstract quality on account of the aspect of its composition. Entitled Falling, cracks appear at the bottom of the screen before elegantly wending their way upwards, creating a delightfully vertiginous play of line and shape. The highlight of the exhibition is an outstanding piece of film recorded at an abandoned whaling station. As well as capturing the desolate, filmic beauty of the locale, Faithfull documents the surreal interactions of a colony of seals who have made the station their home. The ungainly thrashing of their bodies in and around these industrial buildings possesses both a zombie-movie feel of unease, and a haunting, bleak beauty which will stay with you for days. This is an essesntial exhibition. [Jay Shukla]

Stills Gallery, Edinburgh until May 14, free.