Edinburgh Leisure
Near me Need Help
21.04.2018 - 20.05.2018
Celine is ecstatic to present Near me Need Help an exhibition by Edinburgh Leisure.
There is a certain aesthetic ambience that Edinburgh Leisure taps into and adapts to its own ends. Despite eschewing any kind of direct commentary, it is committed to its own carefully honed brand of realism. The group takes its name from a trust operating sport and fitness facilities in Edinburgh, which functions at ‘arms-length’ from the City Council. Adopting the banal in-house graphics of this organisation and others like it, Edinburgh Leisure holds up a mirror to the semiotic landscape of contemporary Scottish life. This is a landscape where the signifiers of privatised civic infrastructure vie for attention with those of syndicated digital platforms, engendering a broader political situation that poses significant challenges to previously held conceptions of both governmental responsibility and corporate accountability.

The three metal grills affixed to the windows of the gallery share an affinity with the visual effects that accompany Edinburgh Leisure’s live shows. At these performances, logos appropriated from a range of sources –often popular media outlets such as BBC, ITV4, Dave, Netflix, Pornhub– are passed through computer software that converts them into animated forms determined by the music being played. At Celine, the ‘daisy wheel’ branding used by the Royal Bank of Scotland since 1969 has been treated in a similarly fetishistic manner, undergoing a process of abstraction before being plasma-cut into sheet steel. These objects are, like the Resolume VJ software that powers the visuals of an Edinburgh Leisure performance, designed to function as generators of live imagery. This form of presentation could just as easily be described as a protracted event as an exhibition. It could almost be interpreted as an inhabitable version of the limbo-like television idents used to abridge programming and advertisements.

In equal measure the appropriated logo that features on these grills embodies national stereotypes of fiscal prudence, as well as connotations of the leveraged practices that eventually led to the bank’s bailout during the 2008 financial crisis. While occupying the position of Victorian shuttering traditionally found in Glaswegian tenement flats, the steel panels sport the industrial appearance of perforated cladding used to secure vacant buildings. Throwing shadows onto the walls and floors of the gallery the effect is a literalisation of the largely unseen, yet all-encompassing backdrop that corporate entities such as Royal Bank of Scotland play in our everyday lives.

Just as the growing obfuscation of the boundaries between public services and free-market sovereignty can be characterised as one of the leitmotifs of contemporary society, this installation is likewise inscrutably layered. It is with a distinctly sardonic air that such incongruous material has been re-deployed in the service of immersive spectacle. However, this does not reflect mere cynicism on the part of Edinburgh Leisure, but is rather an inversion of the insidious annexation of collective resources by private concerns. For them, establishing momentary ownership over this class of imagery is a means of making it ‘dance to our music.’

Text by Neil Clements