Edinburgh Fringe Festival: the final week

August 29th, 2011


The Edinburgh Fringe comes to a close this Monday, August 29th. It is hard to believe a month has passed since I arrived back in Edinburgh and during that time, thousands of performers and comedians have graced the stages and made their debuts on the street and at free venues. Some have garnished acclaim from the newspapers, while others have failed miserably. They say, for a comedian, Edinburgh is the best place to make it and the worst place to break it. Audiences come saturated with comedic entertainment, expecting each entertainer to be better than the last. The pressure can get to some, believe me, I've seen it. The poor fellow was sweating alcohol and could barely stand. Whichever way the cards fall, every entertainer leaves here with an honest revue of their show and talent. I did attend one performance this week, a one-woman show entitled, Of Sound Mind, written by Ronnie Dorsey. It was a bizarre and touching story about a sociopathic woman who had a fondness for gardening and a dislike for men. In a perfectly composed manner, she told us how she could spot the evil, peeving cat behind the man's eyes who looked too fondly at the child on the train or the child in the church choir. Like so many other shows at the festival, it had an element of abuse, depression, or murder, but the performance was so spectacular that I could get past the over-played theme. Without over-acting, the actress delivered a powerful performance. Each expression was so deeply rooted in the character's experiences, so real, so painful, then as quick as she remembered those dark moments, her face would transform completely as she spoke of the benefits of bone meal for her rose garden, which she boasted as the best on her lane, or how her rottweilers so loved the shin bones and wondered what her neighbors, whom she chatted with over the backyard fence, would think if they knew. I got completely lost in the performance, and though it was apparent from her lack of remorse and inability to ground her thoughts in one time or another, I grew fond of her character and began to sympathize with her mission and her horrific, yet thrilling tale. She said the authorities asked repeatedly how many men had come victim to her, and she simply said she didn't know because "It was about getting rid of, not counting". In her own twisted way, she felt she was making the world a safer place. 


By this week, I had had my fill of comedy, so I visited a few art exhibits and a one woman theatre show. The Edinburgh College of Art was exhibiting a few works by the famed British sculptor and Turner Prize winner, Anish Kapoor. The chromatically pigmented organic forms of White Sand, Red Millet, Many Flowers (1982) have been exhibited around major British and world wide art institutions, while the 5 meter tall wax bell, Untitled (2010), is making its debut at ECA. Kapoor's work is often monolithic and simple with an emphasis on form and colour. Kapoor has worked in a multitude of materials, more recently in reflective materials, as in the 2006 stainless steel Cloud Gate sculpture, more fondly known as 'the bean', in Millennium Park, Chicago. Though I am not sure what is meant to be said with his pieces, I found them to be thoroughly enjoyable for the simple brilliance of colours or the disproportionate scale of the objects. 



Afterward, I met up with my friend, Emma, for a light lunch of sweet corn, mint, chili soup at the Fruitmarket Gallery cafe. It was too interesting to resist and we were both pleasantly surprised. After lunch, we wandered around the exhibition of works by American artist Ingrid Calame. Calame's work is a reconfigured map of the world through her eyes. She finds here inspiration in the urban landscape, tracing graffiti, stains, signs, shapes, markings, etc, which she translates in to a new map of that place, a map with a different, more abstract point of view, even though the tracings are in one-to-one scale. The method seems simple -trace and layer, trace and layer- but it is Calame's expert use of colour that make the paintings so invigorating. So many artists shy away from the use of more than 2 – 4 colours for fear that their piece will become too cluttered or lose its cherished minimalist persona. Calame's success is a true demonstration of her mastery of colours.

Caroline Engel for Danish Teak Classics  

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