ARTS: PICK OF THE GALLERIES Mattresses, Monros and the story of an eye

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The Lighthouse, Glasgow

In a fenced-off section of "The Glasgow Collection" in the Lighthouse is "": a show within a show within a suite of shows. It features prototypes of furniture designed by seven well-known artists.

"", then. But each of the works is displayed on a foot-high transparent table. So you can't sit on the seats or lie on the beds. Would a bit of wear and tear on the prototype have been such a bad thing?

Shuffling along what amounts to a corridor, you get a limited view of each piece. Michael Craig-Martin's sofa/ bed/ table/ desk/ shelving suffers especially from this arrangement. The sofa/ bed functions are emphasised, the shelving not even glimpsed.

The artists were asked to operate within a product-design context. It's intended that their work be manufactured and sold. So it's easier to consider the pieces as furniture rather than as extensions of the artist's normal practice. An exception is Martin Boyce's uncomfortable-looking metal chair. It has an adjustable back designed to fit under any door handle - to act as a wedge or barricade. A recent series of photographs by Boyce is of modernist chairs shown doing exactly this job. The chair as an object that keeps people out of a room, rather than as a thing to be sat upon. I doubt if this design will be a best-seller, but I'd like one.

The other exception is Rachel Whiteread's daybed. This is closely related to those of her sculptures which present the space underneath a bed as a cast made from plaster or rubber. It's possible to imagine lying on the upholstered double mattress, which is punctured by holes that go right down through it, holes shaped by the legs of the original bed, holes that might serve to remind you that it's day not night. "Negative sleep" - everybody should get some.

Although this show is - by necessity - underpinned by bourgeois values, it has a subversive edge to it, thanks to the artists who have stuck closest to a personal vision.

`': The Lighthouse, Glasgow (0141 221 6362) to 9 Jan

Neal Beggs

CCA at McLellan Galleries, Glasgow

On one wall of the gallery's long entrance corridor is an unbroken paragraph of text which lists mountains in Scotland over 3,000 feet. Opposite is a list of all Glasgow tower blocks over eight floors high. And that's all there is.

The installation will be on view until spring 2001. During this period, Neal Beggs will be climbing Munros and multi-storey blocks (via internal staircases and roof hatches), and returning to the gallery in order to tick the boxes at the end of the appropriate entries.

The project could be an exercise in self-aggrandisation, but I don't think it is. For a start, Beggs has no intention of ticking all the boxes. The point is to leave space for gallery visitors, to encourage them to explore the country, or at least the issues raised by the work.

For decades, walking in the hills of Scotland has been popular, at least for educated Scots. But how many of us have been into any of the 300- odd tower blocks built in Glasgow between 1950 and 1970? Perhaps that is the challenge presented by this work for the middle classes: to find out what life is like for Glaswegians who live in high-rise housing. As it happens, there are tower blocks within 10 minutes walk of the gallery.

Access issues are relevant to both uninhabited mountainsides and high- density urban housing. Indeed, Beggs has his own "Right to Roam" legislation in the form of a permission letter from Glasgow City Council. Sadly, fatalities also apply to both types of skyscraper, and the artist has been asked to arrange personal insurance before making use of the permit.

The installation is visible to anyone walking along Sauchiehall Street. So the piece should catch the attention of a wide cross-section of the public. Rab C Nesbitt, even.

Neal Beggs: CCA, Glasgow (0141 332 7521) to spring 2001

Gillian Wearing

Interim Gallery, London

On a large screen is a suburban scene filmed at night. When a car sweeps into view the camera follows it. The car pulls up and four people get out with an explosion of noise. An hysterical woman falls on the leaf- strewn lawn of a house. Apparently she's screaming "I love you", though it sounds, and looks, more like "I hate you". Her partner pulls the woman to her feet and steers her towards the door while giving the key to the female of the accompanying couple. As the four enter the brightly lit interior, the woman's hysteria subsides, and the door shuts.

Gillian Wearing's video I Love You returns to the original shot of a quiet street at night, and the single event is repeated in seven or eight variations. It's based on a scene witnessed in London by the artist. The work's format touches on the unreliability of memory (my description probably conflates at least two of the variations).

Do the people originally witnessed go through a similar tired-and-emotional scene on returning home every Friday night? The long opening shot ensures there is plenty of time to think about such things.

The longer you watch the video, the more detached you become from the scene. She falls down yet again and he picks her up. What strange games these humans play.

`Gillian Wearing': Interim Art, E2 (0171 729 4112) to 21 Nov

Peepshow

Mobile Home, London

Having walked up the many stairs to this new gallery, the visitor is confronted by something dramatic. A single framed painting of an eye. The eye belongs to Mark Fairnington, and he normally uses it to help him paint hyper-real pictures of birds, insects and plants as they appear in Time/ Life publications. The real subject of the nature paintings, though, is the world of representations.

But this time he's drawn attention to the eye itself. He's photographed his own, inverted it, and removed the bottom half and replaced it with a mirror image of the top half using computer software. Then, in the crucial painting stage, he's re-introduced asymmetries so that the final image strikes the viewer's eye as a single entity, a whole eye.

Why has he gone through each of these stages? Partly, to create an image that is convincingly real and yet utterly artificial. Specifically, to create an image with surreal sexual connotations. The show's handout includes a quote from George Bataille's The Story of the Eye. In the book, the narrator sees the dead eyeball of a mutual ex-lover between his current lover's legs. But what does the viewer see in "Peepshow"? What I saw was the artist taking a sophisticated interest in sight and representations of what is seen, though perhaps venturing up a blind alley on this occasion.

`Peepshow': Mobile Home, WC1 (0171 405 7575) to 2 Jan

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