Critics’ Picks

  • View of “Chimera,” 2022. Photo: Sally Jubb.

    View of “Chimera,” 2022. Photo: Sally Jubb.

    Dundee

    Nashashibi/Skaer

    Cooper Gallery
    Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, 13 Perth Road
    September 30–December 10, 2022

    The exhibition “Chimera” unites three films by Nashashibi/Skaer—the collaborative practice of Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer, developed alongside their individual careers since 2005—with related sculptures and paintings by each artist to create a softly melancholic, quietly surrealist environment that feels suspended outside time. Perhaps this is because Bear, the most recent film, was created during the 2021 lockdown. It builds directly on Lamb, 2019, a study of ewes undergoing labor, giving birth, and tending to their young within a lambing shed in the Scottish Hebrides. Despite the camera’s potential invasiveness, the animals remain unperturbed and ultimately unknowable. In Bear, Nashashibi/Skaer overlay footage shot in the same shed with restless ink marks and smudges that coalesce into ursine silhouettes. The sheep uncannily metamorphose into their predators so that shadowy threats stalk the warm, straw-filled barn.

    The key to this associative, elliptical visuality lies in the third film, Our Magnolia, 2009, a meditation that shifts from Paul Nash’s Flight of the Magnolia, 1944a wartime painting of a flowering aerial explosionto, by turns, a decomposing beached whale carcass, Margaret Thatcher, and the looting of the Iraq Museum during the oil wars catalyzed by Thatcher’s politics. On one wall, Nashashibi’s Gates, 2022, contain possible allusions to Nash’s vision, but the artist veils these forms behind layers of green pigment on strips of brown paper. On the floor, Skaer’s Haystacks made of Garnet, Garnets made of Hay, 2022, punctuate two long skeins of paper with a pair of bronze hay bails, while Slate Night (i) and Slate Night (ii), both 2022, resemble water troughs hewn from stone. The exhibition’s chimerical elements together generate an elusive atmosphere shot through with sudden sparks of insight, inviting reflection and, potentially, transformation