January 2020: four very different artists uncover forgotten histories and semi-imagined pasts in Summerhall’s first exhibition of the new year, Mount Strange and the Temple of Fame. Deep diving into investigative research, these artists interrogate the minutiae of tangled human and ecological life.
Curated by Wendy Law, Edinburgh-based contemporary visual arts specialist, Mount Strange is a reimagining of Summerhall’s Festival 2012 exhibition Only Women Women Only, presenting a diverse range of work dealing with the erasure of women in written history, wealth and power, folklore and ritual. These four women artists across six galleries, invite us to contemplate what is fake, what is artifice, what is real and what is truth.
Wendy Law commented; ‘These women are today’s explorers – as artists they research, scrutinise and collect. They delve into strange histories, question reputations and our spiritual and physical relationships with our environment.’
Victoria Clare Bernie, Maria Gimeno, Mina Heydari-Waite and Alix Villanueva use film, video, drawing, photography, found objects, ritual and performance.
Victoria Clare Bernie is a visual artist concerned with the tension between natural entropy and human design, exploring wildness through human minutiae. Her film Mount Strange and the Temple of Fame gives the exhibition its title. She is presenting two other films, including Daedalus – exploring the mysterious true story of Hitler’s Deputy’s fateful flight to Scotland in search, perhaps, of a peace treaty – and Office of Woods.
In Queridas Viejas (Old Mistresses), Maria Gimeno stages a gendered intervention on the ‘bible’ of art history; E.H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art. Using a sharp tipped kitchen knife and an academically rigorous approach, Gimeno carefully inserts the artists Gombrich ‘forgot’ – the women – and invites us to examine our own relationship with art history, and the primarily white, male collections of our major art institutions. On the 8th March, Marie Gimeno will perform Queridas Viejas for the first time in the UK to celebrate International Women’s Day in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre.
Glasgow-based, Iranian-British artist and facilitator Mina Heydari-Waite’s work is concerned with hierarchical dynamics in cultural history and cultural participation. Her work همسفر (Hamsafar / Companion Traveller) investigates the role diasporic identity plays by weaving together semi-imagined histories of the Iranian diaspora created after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
Alix Villanueva is a multi-media Edinburgh-based artist and cosmoecologist, interested in the use of the strange and the folkloric within ecological thought and in investigating where domesticity and the wild entangle. She is presenting items worn during her happenings, including ‘Landscape Skirt’ – a healing ritual.
Find out more about Summerhall’s Visual Arts programme.