Rose Frain

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2017           This Time in History, What Escapes/ Afghanistan

Summerhall, Edinburgh

2nd August - 24th September 2017

Originally devised for Goldsmiths, London University in 2011, What Escapes/ Afghanistan is now updated and presented to new audiences as part of Summerhall's 2017 Visual Arts Festival programme and the 70th anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival, created to "heal the wounds of war".

The work is an installation referencing the ongoing critical moment in Afghanistan where the political crisis continues.

The materials used have both direct and symbolic significance, referencing the rich mineral resources of Afghanistan including gold, lapis lazuli and copper; a blue burka typically worn by Afghan women and survival kit issued to the UK armed forces.

What Escapes/ Afghanistan conveys the rupture in military masculinity since the withdrawal of Nato troops, and the symmetric pan-cultural erasures of women; what escapes conventional reportage.

The work cites Chelsea Manning the WikiLeaks informer who was recently released from Military prison in the US, having as Bradley Manning leaked the Afghan War Logs and other sensitive material.

Also referenced is Alexander Blackman, known as "Marine A", recently freed from prison in Wiltshire his conviction for murder (of a Taliban fighter) under the Geneva Convention having been reduced to manslaughter.

The opium trade continues to flourish.

Rose Frain has closely followed the geo-political situation in Afghanistan ever since the US led bombing of November 2001 in reprisal for the attacks of '9/11'. She spent time in Alexandria, Egypt, just prior to the uprisings there and her work Alexandria Light - part of her extended and continuing project This Time in History - is considered to have been prescient.

As we asked what next in the tidal surge of the Arab Spring, "What Escapes" reflected on the psychic traces and slippages of reportage, experience and memory evoked by Afghanistan prior to and since the death of Osama bin Laden
...Each strenuously researched object, installed with precision is a catalyst that firmly leads away from fixed meaning.

Althea Greenan, Curator Women's Art Library, Goldsmiths London

Frain's subtle seduction and brilliant economy of means brings with it an ethical sensitivity to the human subject that might more effectively disseminate what the academy unwittingly excludes.

Amna Malik, n.paradoxa

One of the chief distinctions of Rose Frain's work to my mind lies in its reconciliation of qualities often opposed. She explores psychoanalytic and symbolic concepts, with reference both to the individual and the body politic, but her intellectual and theoretical sophistication is manifested in art that gives the viewer a distinctly emotional, even visceral, experience.

Elizabeth James, Curator and Senior Librarian National Art Library V&A London


Special thanks to all at Summerhall and to Hope Scott Trust / Richard Demarco / Stephen Baird / Highlander / Vestey Foods / KSLD



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