Critics’ Picks

View of “Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art,” 2012. From top: Karla Black, Will Attach, 2012; Karla Black, Empty Now, 2012.


“Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art”

Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art
Multiple locations
April 20–May 7

Glasgow’s art scene has evolved on its own terms—always mingling the gutsy and the experimental. Showcasing work by over 130 artists in diverse sites across of the city, this year’s festival encapsulates the city’s energy with a thoughtful range of new installations. Take, for instance, Karla Black’s Empty Now (all works 2012), which is made of seventeen tons of meticulously layered sawdust. Periodically, the Glaswegian artist alters this delicate work with tiny beads of color from cosmetic products. Hanging clouds above, Will Attach spans the Gallery of Modern Art’s neoclassical ceiling with a network of golden cellophane garlands. Within this grandiose setting, the two installations appear visceral and defiant.

Another standout work is by Mexican artist Teresa Margolles. For Diamond, she gathered refuse from the violent 2011 riots in South London and sent it to a company that creates diamonds from the remains of human cremation ashes. Exhibited at Glasgow Sculpture Studios in the Whiskey Bond, the manufactured jewel is mounted in a simple vitrine. Across the cavernous space, the phrase A DIAMOND FOR THE CROWN is carved into the wall—an astute comment on the imminent Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Margolles has also mounted a slide presentation of Luis Alvarado’s photographs from the 1970s through ’80s of daily life in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

Folkert de Jong has installed life-size Styrofoam and plywood figures in the Mackintosh Museum at Glasgow School of Art. These portray artists Charles Rennie Mackintosh (designer of the school) and his wife, Margaret. Titled The Immortals, after Mackintosh’s circle of friends, de Jong’s installation is theatrical and witty. The Mackintoshs sit atop makeshift scaffolding, their faces streaked with bright paints. Originally a drawing studio, the gallery is transformed back into an artist haunt.