This year the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) not only celebrates the opening of its entire site but also celebrates experimentation with project spaces and buzzing pop up exhibitions throughout the college. One such show is curated by students of the MA Fine Arts (MAFA) programme, with ninety students installing a piece of their artistic process on the walls and floors of the ECA’s Sculpture Court.
As one moves from one work to another, one sees fragments of what catches the eyes of these young artists — the texture of wool, paint and clay, the harmony of colours on a gradient, the smell of damp mud, the intimacy of a small photograph. It’s a bricolage of ideas explored over a year, with the work sometimes reflecting their vision and agenda, sometimes not. The viewer finds themself in the confused space of collaboration; whether or not this is an advantage is for the viewer to decide.
All sorts of themes are explored through all sorts of approaches: personal and psychoanalytical, political and environmental — works that scream at you with colour, works that draw you in by the omission of it. Some artists weave for days to push beyond their limits and find meaning in the labour of making, whereas others create a language by the juxtaposition of objects that don’t belong together.
A work that really stands out would be Manifesto for the Conceptual Artist by Fabi Fabi, which, in a few bold handwritten words on a canvas painted orange, unites the voices of these young artists. Even if it’s a form of satire, it’s one that the students of ECA are proud of, an attitude worn on their sleeves, an attitude that defines their difference.
With this exhibition, the MAFA students give us an insight into their making, their experimentation and their process. They show us that the purpose of art does not reside in a concept because sometimes there is no need for one. The purpose of art can be found in the visual exchange of a verbal language, wherein the work of art presents itself to the viewer. It unfolds only in front of your eyes to accommodate your imagination. The work of art here is a nexus of ideas for every young artist that has made it, and for every viewer that has received it. Does it matter if it is good or not? If you can see right through the work to the vision of the artist who made it, then the answer is for you to decide.
Artwork: Fabi Fabi