Scottish National Galleries, Edinburgh

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press release

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

March 12–September 4, 2022

Amie Siegel. Bloodlines

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art debuts ambitious and expansive new work by Amie Siegel in March 2022.

The National Galleries of Scotland announce the premiere of a new large-scale artwork by Amie Siegel. Bloodlines (2022), one of Siegel’s most expansive works to date, considers complex networks of art, labour, pedigree and cultural identification. Bloodlines is the first of the American artist’s works to enter Scotland’s national collection and will debut at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) from March 12–September 4, 2022.

Amie Siegel has long been interested in the lives of artworks and objects—how they gain cultural meaning and value. Filmed in numerous private estates throughout England and Scotland, as well as in public institutions, Bloodlines follows the movement of paintings by the English artist George Stubbs (1724-1806) from aristocratic homes and private country houses to their exhibition in a public art gallery, and subsequent return. First depicted within the ornate décor and stillness of the stately home interiors, the Stubbs paintings take on a new presence when installed by museum workers and seen on gallery walls by a viewing public, and in turn upon their return home. Siegel’s film offers an intimate look into the world of cultural property, exploring the ownership of heritage and distinctions between private and public realms. Bloodlines exemplifies the artist’s understated mastery of form, revealing systems of class and inherited wealth, while subtly suggesting colonialism’s role in establishing and perpetuating these structures.

The iterative and conceptual quality of Siegel’s work is conveyed through juxtaposition, contrast, and repetition to create a richly layered constellation of images and ideas, allowing the resulting narrative to unfold associatively in the viewer’s consciousness. Motifs such as flowers, fireplaces, wallpaper, dogs, horses, and other creatures and patterns of action build and echo throughout the work, accruing meaning. Time itself becomes both subject and material in the uncannily immutable settings of the stately home. Distinctions between interior and exterior worlds, as well as the absence and presence of people; stillness and movement; animate beings and inanimate objects; images of past and present; reality and artifice are brought to the fore. A sense of empathy is conveyed, as viewers encounter a cast of human and animal protagonists.

As the film unfolds, Siegel draws out subtle and poetic connections between her subjects and those of the paintings. People, property, animals and objects move between the real and the represented, creating a mirror of human, equine and artistic bloodlines. Without voice-over or narration, Siegel’s signature intimate camerawork, carefully composed tracking shots and deft, analogical editing exposes the dual processes of image-making and looking. Her deployment of a seductive cinematic language parallels both the expressive surfaces of Stubbs’ paintings and the lavish interiors and grounds of the ancestral homes that helped provide his very subjects. In this way, she directs our gaze, and opens a window onto visions of cultural identity held tightly within the frameworks that fix its imagery.

Simon Groom, Director of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “This is an incredibly important acquisition of a new work by Amie Siegel, an artist of international renown who has long been on our wish list. Filmed entirely in the UK, this timely and compelling work is exemplary of Siegel’s uncanny ability to consider and observe the lives of objects and artefacts to profound and moving ends. While taking the particular contexts in which paintings by Stubbs have been collected, cared for, and exhibited as her starting point, the themes Siegel explores in Bloodlines are universal. This is a work that explores how social structures are defined and understood, ideas which resonate in our contemporary world. We are thrilled that Bloodlines finds a permanent home in Scotland’s national collection where it can be seen, researched, and preserved for the future.”

Bloodlines has been acquired by National Galleries of Scotland thanks to the generosity of Art Fund and the Contemporary Art Society, whose contributions supported the production of the work, alongside additional production support from Princess Grace Foundation, New York, and PALOMAR. Bloodlines will be on display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) as part of the exhibition New Arrivals: from Salvador Dalí to Jenny Saville.

Bloodlines will also be on display at Thomas Dane Gallery, London, from April 26–July 23, 2022.

Artist biography
Amie Siegel (b. 1974, Chicago, US) has received widespread acclaim for astute and conceptually rigorous artworks that embrace moving image, installation, photography, painting, and performance. Her layered, meticulously constructed works trace and perform the undercurrents of systems of value, cultural ownership and image-making. Recent solo exhibitions include Medium Cool, Blaffer Art Museum, Houston; Winter, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; Strata, South London Gallery; Ricochet, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart; Double Negative, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich and Provenance, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Group exhibitions include the 34th São Paulo Bienal, Gwangju Biennial; Dhaka Art Summit; CAPC Bordeaux; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Vancouver Art Gallery; MuMA, Melbourne; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; MAXXI Museum, Rome; Hayward Gallery, London; CCA Wattis, San Francisco; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, among many others. Her work is in public collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.