The Slave's Lament: Exhibition, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

Graham Fagen (Artist)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition catalogue


Black Burns and The Slave's Lament by Graham Fagen / Douglas Gordon / Jackie Kay limited edition book (paperback)

This exclusive limited-edition book documents the work of two leading contemporary artists: Douglas Gordon and Graham Fagen; here, both artists respond to the representation and status of the famous Scottish Poet Robert Burns (1759-1796). Both works were on display at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Commissioned poems by Jackie Kay, the third Scottish Makar (National Poet of Scotland) feature at the centre of the book.

Douglas Gordon's installation, Black Burns, is a though-provoking response to the full-length marble statue of Robert Burns, by John Flaxman, which stood in the Great Hall of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Black Burns will address many of the key concerns in Gordon's work. Created on site in the Great Hall in July 2017, and aims to render Flaxman's totemic sculpture of Scotland's national hero at once more human, more vulnerable and more exposed.

Graham Fagen's evocative video installation The Slave's Lament, 2015 is a response to Robert Burns' The Slave's Lament (1792), his only work to empathise with the appalling hurt of the displaced, the trafficked and the enslaved. A beautiful lyric written over 200 hundred years ago, it is a narrative that remains entirely contemporary. This part of the book serves as a photographic record of the installation that was met with great acclaim at the Venice Biennale in 2015.

Size: 13.5 x 20 cm
Page count: 96pp
Format: Paperback
Illustrations: 90
Publisher: National Galleries of Scotland
Authors: Julie Lawson and Michael Morris
Original languageEnglish
PublisherNational Galleries of Scotland
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2017


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