Borrowing its title from Alfred Hitchcock’s explanation of the MacGuffin, the seemingly indispensible but ultimately arbitrary device by which narrative is propelled, Trapping Lions in the Scottish Highlands examines questions of narrative complexity, disjunction, and ambiguity in recent art. Often combining fictional narration with seemingly archival or documentary footage, the works in the exhibition employ a range of tactics to blur the line between fiction and reality, weaving fragmentary stories around elusive or even entirely absent centers. From the elegant parsing of sound and image to the complex aesthetics of the murder mystery, these works employ a range of tactics to create narrative tension even while casting doubt on their own credibility. At the same time that the viewer is often put in the position of a kind of detective, oftentimes narrative itself ultimately becomes a kind of MacGuffin, important not so much for itself but for the formal and conceptual moves it makes possible.
Trapping Lions in the Scottish Highlands includes works by Mac Adams, Matthew Brannon, Victor Burgin, Katarina Burin, Gerard Byrne, Alejandro Cesarco, Saskia Olde Wolbers, John Smith, and Kerry Tribe.