The surrealist nightmare of our 26 hour transit from Africa blurs past in a stream of cramped movies, stomach curdling food and nine hours stop over in the clinical mall decadence of Doha airport trying to sleep in the wee hours under fluorescent light. We landed in Edinburgh in a daze and watched the city emerge from the top floor of the cartoon red bus into the old town. It was nice to be in an english speaking country again and we began to notice cultural similarities within minutes. We arrived quickly and easily at our home for the week and were greeted by Aimée, our host. Aimée van Breugel is an artist who works primarily in pencil and print, she has a beautiful dark work which explores religion, sexuality and the science of the natural world.
First on our list of things to do was to take a nice long hot shower. My Glob it was amazing! The sweet sweet joy of running hot water with so many soaps, gels and shampoos to choose from. Oh the luxury! Next was to wash our entire stinky bags of clothes, it having been two weeks in humidity without any washing. We just handed it all over to a drycleaner with no thought of the cost.
After settling in to our new temporary home and taking in all the details including our own little sitting area with loft bed in our room we felt very spoiled. Aimee had even left out some dark orange chocolate for us. Everything was so eclectic and beautiful with art and unique objects decorating the walls. It reminded us of a female version of the flat we lived in in San Francisco with David, it even smelt lovely and girly. We decided to find a pub meal somewhere for dinner where Dotahn could begin his spree of pints and were given some tips on where to go around town by Aimee’s roommate Scarlett Platel. Also an artist, Scarlett moved to Edinburgh from London to help launch her practice and manly works with photography and installation utilizing concepts of philosophy, psychology and human nature.
Sleep deprivation began to get the better of us so we crashed in our loft with the giddy knowledge that a solid week of festivities awaited us in the morning.
Up bright and early we began to map out our day of shows and galleries. The main reason we had come to Edinburgh was to go to the Fringe festival, the biggest art festival in the world and so we decided to make the most of it. We packed in an incredible amount of shows into the week and so rather than bore you all with detailed descriptions of each we will present a sentence summary of our experience.
Cut A psychological thriller in the small intimate space of a bio-medical room. A one women show with brilliant acting, moving between the conscious and subconscious of the character was seamless and very interesting. We found it very impacting and loved the use of lighting.
The solid life of sugar water Hanging out in one of the festival hubs we were given free tickets to this play about an everyday normal couple dealing with the weight of long term relationships and the death of a child. Very candid dialog and compelling staging.
After both of these intense shows Emmily needed some light and sweet Fairy Floss. You can’t be at a festival and not eat Fairy Floss after all.
Sonic vision At the Edinburgh equivalent to the planetarium a show of multiple 3D animations from various artists set to pop music projected on a huge 360 degree dome.
Walking around the city Edinburgh is god damn beautiful
Phylidda Barlow – Set Large interventions into space and recreations of accidental arrangements of objects and materials formed through the subconscious need for function. Phyllida is looking for the tipping point where her desire to control the objects is toppled as the objects take over and control the piece.
Kennard Phillips – Here Comes Everybody Highly political prints and installation work which uses the aesthetic of the street and propaganda such as posters and newspapers to convey strong political messages.
Bruce A theatre piece where every character is played by a single puppet made of a piece of rectangular foam with eyes. Intensely clever writing as the story is played through and repeated to reveal twists and connections as the characters lives intertwine.
Trygve Wakenshaw – Kraken Side-splitting mime/physical theater as invisible objects and motions morph and transition to create increasingly bizarre and hilarious situations. So good we bought tickets to his new show.
Between shows we would wander through the narrow streets skirting around the crowds finding street performers and sometimes getting free tickets to shows. Some of which were total scores and others that we wish we weren’t so polite as to stay.
Adam Benjamin and Victor Preda A free show of firstly inept, but at times lovable amateur comedy which descended into self-pitying and highly sexist monologues about suicide.
Vanessa Smythe – In Case We Disappear Poignant and endearing spoken word about naïve love and disappearance which flitted in and out of beautiful song.
Participating in the European tradition we also sat awkwardly for portraits while tourists took photos of us.
Hermann Nitsch – The Orgies Mystery Theatre Visceral and horrific studies of the juxtaposition between the Dionysian phenomenon and the Christian church through performance art documentation, painting and installation work.
Derrick Guild – After A.D A clinical and conceptual dissection of still life and the Hare painting by Albrecht Durer presented in an old medical lab.
Julian Spalding and Glyn Thompson – A Lady’s Not a Gent’s Presented a whole new feminist significance for ‘Fountain’ this exhibition presented some basic evidence and arguments to say that Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ artwork was stolen from a female friend of his, Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven changing the way we view art history for ever.
Talking with Angels Excruciatingly boring with no real message and an incoherent story. Luckily a free show.
After leaving the incredibly bad, stupid, I can’t believe we wasted our lives show our nerves were luckily soothed by one of the best Latin American guitarists we have ever seen.
Moby Alpha Superbly executed nerd humor with references from classic fiction and sci-fi, using space helmets with LED lights which change color according to situation or character.
Sing for your Life Hilarious and witty puppet musical using grotesque roadkill taxidermy as puppets to talk about animal rights.
Best of Burlesque Classic style burlesque show with a wide range of skill levels, ages and shapes and sizes with a fantastic host and raucously dirty storyteller.
Tubular Bells for Two Astounding recreation of Mike Oldfield’s seminal masterpiece Tubular Bells with only two musicians playing the entire album live scrambling around on stage with a myriad of instruments.
Wings Whimsical and cheesy, but genuine bigtop circus with astounding tissue performance using ropes and pulleys and the most beautiful performance from a woman making a huge sculptural structure by balancing palm branches on each other all held by the weight of a feather.
After the wings experience we were treated to a fire show outside the big top.
Moribund A cute, two person show about death using elements of silent film, ventriloquism and interesting facts about funeral ritual and the anatomy of decay.
Butoh Medea A retelling of the classical tale of Medea and Jason by a single woman using Butoh and a shocking and intense transformation from reserved woman to demon.
Nautilus Another Trygve Wakenshaw mime performance, this time showing a more intellectual and self-referential bent to include elements of gender politics, animal rights and the psychological turmoil of being trapped in the bounds of mime as an art form.
Best of the Fest A range of comedians, some better than others with the highlights being the two Canadian comedians doing observational humor about being in Scotland and the phonebook.
Hard at work
The Wild Man of Orford Cute and childish show interpreting a classic folktale using song, puppetry and animation.
Dolls Czech circus performance with amazing ramshackle sets, creepy aesthetic, excellent lighting and innovative sound work with lackluster circus choreography.
XUN Chinese opera and impeccable kung fu performance blended with excruciating western pop music and a cheesy attempt at striking costume and set design.
Fairytales for Adults An endearing and fun telling of fairytales made to portray adult morals using puppets, animal costumes and a hilariously tragic plastic surgery unicorn.
So soon our week was up and it was time to move on. It all seemed such a wild blur. We hope to come back and experience more of the countryside next time, maybe go on the hunt for Nessie. Thanks for the good times Edinburgh.