This is the second in a six-part series of exhibitions entitled NOW, which bring together the best of contemporary art being made in Scotland with work by leading international artists. At the heart of the exhibition is a major five-room presentation of work by Susan Philipsz, alongside individual presentations by Yto Barrada, Michael Armitage, Hiwa K, Sarah Rose, and Kate Davis.
On display in the largest gallery space at Modern One is Philipsz’ 2016 work, Seven Tears. This evocative piece consists of seven synchronised record players, each playing a single tone taken from Lachrimae, a collection of instrumental music composed in 1604 by John Dowland (1563–1626). Considered the composer’s signature work, Lachrimae is based upon the motif of a falling tear. For NOW Philipsz expands upon the subject of tears, connecting this to her long-standing interest in the histories of particular modes of communication, especially radio. Alongside Seven Tears are a series of the artist’s salt paintings, photographs and other sound works. In relation to some of the key themes within Philipsz’ work – storytelling, modes of communication, memory and loss – five contemporary artists were selected to show existing or new work.
In the first room of the show a series of photographs by Yto Barrada focuses on dolls collected during missionary expeditions to North Africa in the 1930s, inviting us to consider how objects tell a story about a people, place or time. Room 2 features large-scale paintings by Michael Armitage which weave together narratives drawn from historical and current news media and his recollections from time spent and lived in Kenya. Hiwa K’s The Bell Project 2007–2015, a thought-provoking video projection linking together a munitions yard in Northern Iraq with a bell-making foundry in Italy, plays in room 3. Sarah Rose presents a new body of work in room 4, commissioned by the gallery for NOW, which reflects upon processes of material transformation and the impact that humans have on the environment. An installation by Kate Davis in room 5 includes drawings made by the artist of dolls from Edinburgh’s Museum of Childhood, alongside a selection of these dolls and a drawing by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780–1867).