The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Thursday, September 18, 2014


Nine-artist exhibition highlights narrative complexity, ambiguity, and disjunction in contemporary art
Gerard Byrne, (Figures , Some analogies surveyed, and organized into concrete poetry and conceptual film forms, on dates
between 2001-2011), 2001-2011. 16mm film, B&W, sound, 9 min. Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery, London.

ASPEN, CO.- The Aspen Art Museum presents the group exhibition Trapping Lions in the Scottish Highlands, featuring the work of Mac Adams, Matthew Brannon, Victor Burgin, Katarina Burin, Gerard Byrne, Alejandro Cesarco, Saskia Olde Wolbers, John Smith, and Kerry Tribe. The exhibition will remain on view through Sunday, February 2, 2014. A public reception will be held on Thursday, December 19, 2013.

It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men on a train.
One man says, “What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?”
And the other answers, “Oh, that’s a MacGuffin.”
The first one asks, “What’s a MacGuffin?”
“Well,” the other man says, “it’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.”
The first man says, “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,” and the other one answers, “Well then, that’s no MacGuffin!” So you see that a MacGuffin is actually nothing at all. - Alfred Hitchcock

Borrowing its title from Alfred Hitchcock’s explanation of the MacGuffin—the element in a film or story that serves to set and keep the plot in motion usually despite its lack of intrinsic importance—Trapping Lions in the Scottish Highlands highlights questions of narrative complexity, disjunction, and ambiguity in recent art. Whether presenting fictionalized versions of actual events, archival documentation of an unverifiable or even wholly invented past, or musing on the aesthetics of the murder mystery, the works in the exhibition often blur the line between fiction and reality. Some weave fragmentary tales around elusive or even entirely absent centers. In other cases, arrangements of objects or images become points of departure for open-ended stories that unfold only in the mind of the viewer. Such works often prompt us to become something of a detective, only to discover that narrative itself can be a kind of MacGuffin—important not so much for the story it tells as for the formal and conceptual moves that its structure makes possible.



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