November 21, 2008 - Stills - Urban Reflections
November 21, 2008

Urban Reflections

Dan Graham
New Jersey (2006) Slide
Courtesy of the artist

Urban Reflections
23 November 2008 – 22 March 2009

Curated by
Kirsten Lloyd and Christine Nippe
23 Cockburn Street
Edinburgh EH1 1BP
+44 (0)131 622 6200

Opening Saturday, 22nd of November 2008 6-8 pm

Urban Reflections

Nina Fischer & Maroan el Sani (Germany), Dan Graham (USA), Sabine Hornig (Germany), Santu Mofokeng (South Africa), Rhona Warwick (Scotland)

Warped, fragmented and endlessly repeated. Responses to the urban experience have ranged from unbridled enthusiasm for these vibrant hubs of glittering prosperity to examinations of the psychological shadows of city living: alienation, anxiety, tension and fear. The current age of global cities is marked by new geographies and social relations moulded by advancing technologies and economic systems. How do contemporary artists respond to these conditions? Urban Reflections presents works by artists from across different generations and locations as they reflect literally and metaphorically on the theme of mirroring the city.

The development of industrialised modernity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries brought a fascination with new technologies, speed and progress. Population explosions resulted in new types of urban environments while advances in optics and chemistry gave birth to photography and film. Since then the lens and the city have been bound together in artists’ imaginations as they attempt to represent, comment upon and re-imagine their everyday environments through documentary, avant-garde experimental approaches, photomontage and film.

Urban Reflections presents five different artistic positions which reveal the range of contemporary responses to the city. Drawing references from pop culture, urban studies, literature, and the documentary genre each artist seeks to explore a different facet of contemporary urban realities. A concern with the fragmentation of perception runs through the works: images are overlaid on top of one another, spaces and emotions are distorted. In these places there are no fixed horizon lines; boundaries between imagination and reality are blurred, everything reflects and nothing is truly transparent.

Artistic reflections on the city:

Sabine Hornig’s images of vacant storefronts reflect Berlin’s city landscape into interior spaces, troubling visual perception and exploring the shifting relationships between humans and the urban context. Dan Graham uses the processes of mirroring to examine different aspects of human interaction from corporate power structures and surveillance to consumerism and social relations. The internal conditions of the city, its subjective fantasies and desires are explored through They Looked for a City, a unique work by Rhona Warwick where newly imagined narratives combine with anthropological data collections, plagiarised material and historical sources to describe multiple perceptions of a phantom city. South African photographer Santu Mofokeng’s Billboards series continues his fascination with landscape in relation to ownership, power and memory. Acutely aware of the documentary genre’s problematic relationship with truth, spectacle and authority, the artist carefully avoids conventionally evocative imagery of struggle and instead focuses upon capturing images of everyday urban life. Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani’s Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway also refers to the speed of the city and the influence of pop culture upon our perceptions. Here, the car ride from Tarkovsky’s 1972 film Solaris is screened alongside a remake of the scene made by the artists in 2005. The ‘futuristic’ past is reflected into the present while the artists play out the ongoing exchange between the virtual and the real in experiential perception.

Urban Reflections has been co-curated by Kirsten Lloyd (Stills) and Christine Nippe, a freelance curator and editor based in Berlin. This collaborative approach has broadened the scope of the exhibition both in terms of artistic positions, conceptual ideas and geography. The curators aim to invigorate transnational relations and discourses, particularly between Berlin and Scotland.

A series of events including reading groups, film screenings, performances and discussions accompanies the exhibition. A related conference exploring the theme photography and the city will also be held at the beginning of March 2009. Please see for more details.

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Urban Reflections is presented with the support of The Goethe-Institut Glasgow, Galerie Barbara Thumm (Sabine Hornig) and carlier | gebauer (Santu Mofokeng).

Stills, Edinburgh
Opening hours: daily 11am – 6pm
23 Cockburn Street
Edinburgh EH1 1BP
+44 (0)131 622 6200


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