Art Monthly editor and guest curator of the Fruitmarket Gallery’s Print the Legend, Patricia Bickers talks to MAP about the show’s concepts and contexts, and the new relationships between the Wild West and works by Adam Chodzko, Peter Granser, Douglas Gordon, Isaac Julien, Cornelia Parker, Simon Patterson, Salla Tykka, Gillian Wearing as well as a newly commissioned work by Mike Nelson.
Print the Legend began as an idea for an exhibition in 2001, around the time of the inauguration of President George W Bush, former governor of Texas. In its present form, it was a response to an invitation by the director of the Fruitmarket Gallery, Dr Fiona Bradley, to take up the idea again. The context of Edinburgh is perfect; the Scots had a profound influence on the development of the West, not least through the cattle industry that financed the great cattle drives that figure in many a western. Print the Legend reflects on the idea of the West from a northern European perspective; it is my contention that Europe had as much to do with the formation of the idea of the West as America did itself. With the exception of the work commissioned from Mike Nelson, all the work has been seen before, but in different contexts. I have deliberately not included works that merely illustrate the West. Instead, the works selected reference the West, and the western, obliquely and often critically, but always knowingly. I hope that audiences will find that they can respond to each of the individual works in Print the Legend on its own terms but that they will also engage with the idea of the western as a metaphor precisely because the power of genre is its very familiarity. Almost everyone has a view of the western, negative or positive, and that is already the beginning of discourse initiated by the exhibition.”Print the Legend, 1 March–4 May, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh 2008