Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Dieter Roth Diaries, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

*** Update : 5/9/12

Visit to Dieter Roth with Artlink Edinburgh

There were 5 visually impaired people gathered at the Fruitmarket Gallery for a description and tour of the Dieter Roth exhibition.  Susan Humble from Artlink co-ordinated and Emily Learmont gave us a description of the installation with the 128 screens. 

Various questions were asked such as the random nature of the individual screening and how it was ‘plugged and unplugged’.  Luckily one of the gallery staff was on hand to explain that one of the three panels had five switches and another six. 

We then moved to the collection of Roth’s diaries – he kept a series of three.  Several of the diaries are open, though not particularly legible, even to the sighted.  We went upstairs in the gallery lift (elevator) which has a frequency-pitch description for going up - itself a sound installation.  We moved along the shelves with the working books of Roth’s collection of everyday objects, including a selection of squashed milk cartons.  Some of these were photographed and made into beautifully bound books which were sold in limited editions by Roth’s publisher. 

After passing the framed (sideways) drawings, we came to the bookcase and shelving units of Roth’s collections.  In some cases, examples are open for people to leaf through.  Roth wrote in German, Icelandic and English and we discussed concepts of what is art. 

During the discussions, Emily raised the subject of the fluxus movement, which included various artists with some connection to Dieter Roth.  This fluxus movement was avant garde and included Yoko Ono, among others, at the time of Dieter Roth’s show in 1970. 

This was a very enjoyable evening which was full of participation.
*** end of update

9th August 2012

The Fruitmarket Gallery is located near the Market Street exit of Edinburgh’s Waverley Station and I enjoyed an exhibition there last year.  The Fruitmarket has 2 levels of exhibition space and Lindsay told me about Dieter Roth as we were staring at 128 TV screens laid out in 16 by 8.  (http://fruitmarket.co.uk/exhibitions/current/)

I could make out some of the action on the screens as I walked along the 16 columns and making out the domestic scenes in about 4 rows if I bent down or stretched up a little.  The room upstairs has a collection of almost anything that Roth collected, often trash according to his son who appears in a video in the darker seating area.  The video had just been installed.  Dieter Roth had been involved with the Edinburgh Festival in 1970 “having been part of Richard Demarco’s exhibition Strategy: Get Arts”.  This shows how eclectic and avant garde the city was when I was a teenager! 

There are shelves upon shelves with those Leitz ring file folders so familiar in a German household.  Many people filed documents and would have a clear out now and again, but not Dieter Roth. 

The exhibition space upstairs is worth some close inspection, while I can navigate to the items laid out on an open book format, I could not make out much of the doodles and drawings. 

These are diaries and massive memory boxes.  Before the digital age Roth had been recording in film and video tape, then in its infancy.  Some may call this confessional art or the trash of an obsessive person.  I am delighted that through Artlink-Edinburgh I will have a chance to find out more.  I am envious of how he filed things, for a start.

It’s worthwhile noting that the Fruitmarket Gallery has commissioned a permanent sculpture by Martin Creed on the Scotsman Steps.  (http://fruitmarket.co.uk/exhibitions/scotsman-steps/)  This is a well-known Edinburgh landmark.  When I first descended the Steps I hadn’t noticed it and in an Artlink group climbed up the Steps.  I’ve walked down the Steps twice on my own in different weather and lighting conditions and this provides an interesting access to the Fruitmarket Gallery from North Bridge.

The gallery has produced a short guide to Dieter Roth which is available in large print, on tape and by email.  The contact phone number is 0131-226-8181 and the email address is bookshop@fruitmarket.co.uk