Young Athenians

rich in personality and relentlessly questioning

Article by Lucy Faringold | 12 Nov 2006
Spread across three of the lower galleries, this exhibition is a bold move; both by the RSA, who are looking to shake off perceptions that they are a stuffy institution, and by the 17 young artists who are taking part. One might assume that being co-opted by the RSA would be anathema to these young, hungry and fiercely independent artists, but the success of this show, and the inventive use of the gallery space, shows that such concerns are unfounded. Even within these hallowed walls, the work here is not over-awed by its setting, and the irreverent wit and charm of the artists shines through. Some of the best works here engage with Scottish history – this concern is embodied most successfully in a video work by Craig Coulthard entitled The Source of Eden. Here Coulthard and a group of friends canoe the length of the river Eden in Fife, stopping along the way to erect handcrafted milestones and allowing Coulthard to perform his folk songs. Peppered with information on local history by the artist himself, it is an unorthodox and highly endearing engagement with the historical environment. Elsewhere Darius Jones exposes the dark underside of the city with a voyeuristic video recording of a couple having a drunken argument. It's exactly the sort of thing you wouldn't expect to see in the RSA; an exciting, spur-of–the-moment document of aggressive confrontation. This is a varied, challenging show; rich in personality and relentlessly questioning. [Lucy Faringold]
Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh until November 12. Free.