Friday 30 September 2022 - Saturday 10 December 2022
An exhibition of new and existing works by Nashashibi/Skaer – the joint practice of Turner Prize nominated artists Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer.
University of Dundee
Exhibition opening times
30 September – 10 December 2022
Monday – Saturday, 12–5pm
Cooper Gallery is delighted to present Chimera, an exhibition bringing together new and existing works by Nashashibi/Skaer – the joint practice of Turner Prize nominated artists Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer.
From the ancient Greek for a female goat, ‘chimera’ today refers to a beast or an idea composed of incongruous parts, an illusion or fabrication of the mind. The exhibition traverses art history, mythology and the cyclical nature of new life and new ideas. Fusion and slippages of meaning produce an associative and discursive mediation on transformation through which chimera, a composite being that in its very form unsettles the possibility of an archetype, encourages us to doubt the dominance of the real.
At the heart of Chimera are three collaborative films which combine photographic images with musical composition, drawing and painting, skewing the images to form new experiences.
Working in response to the architectural space of Cooper Gallery, Nashashibi/Skaer examine the nuances of each other’s artistic practice by choreographing collaborative films with prints and new solo works, bronze and stone sculpture from Lucy Skaer and painting by Rosalind Nashashibi, adding new meanings and destabilising the boundaries between the formal qualities inherent to each particular artwork and their respective practices.
The three films in Chimera, Our Magnolia (2009), Lamb (2019) and Bear (2021) subtly examine different aspects of our perceptual universe. Lamb and Bear, shot in a lambing shed on the Isle of Lewis over two consecutive lambing seasons, are conceived as a possible bestiary, in which beasts are named and illustrated. The drama of the lambing is heightened by human voice, transformative drawing and music. Commissioned by Cooper Gallery, Bear was made a year later during lockdown, a time that was so unexpectedly different.
Lamb and Bear are triangulated by an earlier work Our Magnolia. This film begins with Flight of the Magnolia (1944), a painting made by Paul Nash at a key historical moment; the possible invasion of Britain from the skies, which would 'flower' with parachutes. The painted image is both surreal and possible, pointing to reality being amorphous in times of war. Our Magnolia extends the transformative logic of the painting to summon political spectres from the artists’ memory, associating ‘Magnolia’ with Maggie (Margaret Thatcher), the oil wars and the looting of the Iraq Museum that followed in their wake.
Offering moments of serene contemplation and reverie, Chimera and its complex ambiguity implores us all to take note of the transformative potential that hovers among everything we see, hear and touch.
Preview & In-conversation
Thursday 29 September, 5.30–8pm
Exhibition preview and in-conversation between artists Lucy Skaer and Rosalind Nashashibi chaired by curator Sophia Yadong Hao.
Chimera: Levitating Tongues
Thursday 20 October 2022, 18:00 - 19:30
Vocal performance by Ceylan Hay and Shiori Usui with a special screening of Bear by Nashashibi/Skaer featuring a soundtrack developed by Cantonese opera artist Zhuo Peili.
Chimera: Image making with 16mm film (Part One)
Thursday 3 November, 6–8.30pm
A 16mm camera workshop facilitated by Alex Hetherington & George Finlay Ramsay. Limited capacity.
Chimera: Image making with 16mm film (Part Two)
Thursday 17 November, 6–8pm
A reading group and screening led by Alex Hetherington & George Finlay Ramsay.
Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer are artists with international solo careers, but they also collaborate as Nashashibi/Skaer. Nashashibi/Skaer met in Glasgow and began working together in 2005. Their films have shown internationally to critical acclaim at venues such as the Berlin Biennial 5, Tate Britain, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art and the ICA London and they are represented in public collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Pompidou, FRAC Marseille, and Arts Council Collection, UK.
Recent works have taken existing artworks as their starting point, such as Why Are You Angry? which utilises Gauguin’s vision of the south seas. This film, premiered at Documenta 14, and formed part of a retrospective exhibition for Tate St Ives 2018. In 2019, Nashashibi/Skaer had a major show Future Sun at SMAK in Ghent. This brought together their solo practises and collaboration for the first time and was a site of fruitful cross pollination for both. A recent film Lamb resulted – their first collaboration with composers and musicians. Their new film Bear, a sequel to Lamb, was premiered as part of CURRENT: Contemporary Art from Scotland (Phase Four) at OCAT Shenzhen, a major international collaboration between Cooper Gallery, University of Dundee and leading contemporary art venues in China.
Rosalind Nashashibi won the Beck’s Futures Prize in 2003, represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2017. Lucy Skaer represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2009.
Rosalind Nashashibi is a London-based filmmaker and painter of Palestinian and Northern Irish heritage. Her films use both documentary and speculative languages, where observations from her own life and the world around her are merged with paintings, fictional or sci-fi elements; often to propose models of collective living. Her paintings likewise operate on another level of subjective experience, they frame arenas or pools of potential where people or animals may appear, often sharing the picture plane with their own context of signs and apparitions.
Nashashibi has exhibited in Documenta 14, Manifesta 7, the Nordic Triennial, and Sharjah X, She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2017 and won Beck’s Futures prize in 2003. She represented Scotland in the 52nd Venice Biennial. Her most recent solo shows include CAC Vilnius, Vienna Secession, CAAC Seville, Chicago Art Institute and Kunstinstuut Melly, Rotterdam. She was National Gallery artist in residence 2020.
Lucy Skaer is a sculptor whose work slows ideas down to abstractions and makes them concrete. She once put a whale skeleton behind a partitioned wall so that it was only visible one sliver at time. She represented the ancient Terracotta Army of Chinese funerary figures as 530 tenmoku-glazed stoneware lozenges—an homage, in part, to the British ceramicist Bernard Leach. Who makes history? What is the “grammar” of sameness and difference? How do ideas unfold? These are questions of Skaer’s art.
Recent solo shows include The Bloomberg Space in London,2020, SMAK, Ghent, 2019, Talbot Rice in Edinburgh, 2018, Tate St Ives, 2018, KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin 2017, Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, 2017, Institute Melly (Formerly Witte de With) in Rotterdam, 2016, Yale Union in Portland, 2013, Tramway in Glasgow, 2013, and Sculpture Center in New York, 2012, Kunsthalle Basel, 2009.
Major group exhibitions include the Carnegie International, 2018, Documenta 14, 2017.
Lucy Skaer received a BA from the Environmental Art Department at Glasgow School of Art. She was a 2009 Turner Prize nominee. She is at work on a commission for the Thames Tideway Sculpture Park for 2024 and will be a forthcoming resident at the Chinati Foundation.
Press Coverage and Responses
Nashashibi/Skaer, Bear, 2021 (film still)
Nashashibi/Skaer, Chimera, 2022. Install views Cooper Gallery, DJCAD. Photos by Sally Jubb.
Chimera is supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland and British Council.