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Lucky number 13: Edinburgh Art Festival announces packed programme

The city will be taken over this summer by exhibitions and artist projects, including new work by Damián Ortega and Christian Boltanski

by Dan Duray, Helen Stoilas  |  23 March 2016
Lucky number 13: Edinburgh Art Festival announces packed programme
Christian Boltanski's Animitas, installed in the Atacama community of Talabre, Chile
The Mexican artist Damián Ortega will show new “landscapes of war”, a collection of 110 drawings by Joseph Beuys will be reunited and the French artist Christian Boltanski will install his first permanent work in the UK. These and many other projects are in store at this summer’s Edinburgh Art Festival (28 July-28 August), which today announced its programme of 42 exhibitions at 30 venues.

Having grown from its relatively modest beginnings in 2004, the festival is set to take over the city in its 13th edition with a number of installations and show. Chief among them are 110 drawings by Joseph Beuys shown for the first time together at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art as part of its Artist Rooms series, focussed collections of work donated to the Tate and the National Galleries Scotland in 2008 by dealer Anthony D'Offay.

At Jupiter Artland, the contemporary art park and gallery space, Christian Boltanski will hang hundreds of Japanese bells on spindly stalks in his first outdoor work in the UK. Titled Animitas, after the roadside shrines to the dead built by indigenous groups in Chile, where the artist first installed the work, the bells are meant to play the “music of the souls”. And Damián Ortega will use “brick, clay and Styrofoam to carve new landscapes” at The Fruitmarket Gallery based on his ideas on “the art of war”, which the artist says is not limited to warriors and armies, but also how “nature influences geography and topography, treating water, fire, heat, wind as the transformative agents they are”.

Portraiture will also come the fore, with an exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, co-organised with the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon in France and the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe in Germany, featuring 600 years of artists’ self-portraits from Rembrandt and Courbet, to Marina Abramović and Ai Weiwei. While the Talbot Rice Gallery at the University of Edinburgh has a solo show of the American artist Alice Neel, documenting post-war New York life through portraits of her friends and neighbours, including Andy Warhol.

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is hosting a survey of Surrealist works by Salvador Dalí, Leonora Carrington, René Magritte, Dorothea Tanning and Joan Miró. Surrealism has been popular at museums, galleries and auctions lately, but Edinburgh still promises to bring a fresh angle to it with good, rare material.

Other artists represented at the festival include late greats such as Louise Bourgeois, John McCracken, Joan Mitchell and Cy Twombly and up-and-comers like the Canadian duo Donovan & Siegel, who will merge sculpture, graphic design and performance to tell the history of print in and around an abandoned factory building in the Fountainbridge neighbourhood. That project is organised by Edinburgh Printmakers, which is currently undertaking a £15m capital campaign to turn the former North British Rubber Company’s Castle Mill Works building into an arts centre and printmaking studio.
And what’s an art festival without weird, impressive events in which visitors might participate? One not to miss at the festival is Beverly Hood’s Eidolon at the Edinburgh College of Art, which in part invites the public to simulate surgery on a mannequin.

“The richness and variety of our partner exhibition programme is second to none, and this year is no exception, bringing together work by artists from across the globe and through the ages,” says the festival’s director Sorcha Carey in a statement.

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