Official Guide to Edinburgh

Edinburgh Art Festival 2015 explores “The Improbable City”

30 July 2015

Edinburgh Art Festival Kemang Wa Lehulere To Whom It May Concern 2015

[Kemang Wa Lehulere, Join the Dots]

Edinburgh Art Festival 2015 opens today, and this year it explores the concept of "The Improbable City", bringing together renowned artists from across the globe, and opening up unusual spaces in the city to display their works. 

This is the 12th year of the Edinburgh Art Festival, which runs annually during the summer and last year attracted over 300,000 art lovers to exhibitions all over Edinburgh. 

The concept of the "Improbable City" is based on Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, a series of short poems where the writer explores imaginary cities through the eyes of famed traveller Marco Polo. When creating these imaginary cities, Polo spoke about the struggle of striking the balance between the probable and the exceptional, as he didn't want the cities to appear "too probable to be real". 

Edinburgh Art Festival 2015 Julie Favreau She Century Frise Inkjet Print

[Julie Favreau, She Century]

The theme seems to be fitting for a city like Edinburgh. Filled with fairytale architecture and featured in many flights of fiction, Edinburgh has been described as "a mad god's dream", and can sometimes appear to be a wonderland that teeters on the brink of reality and fantasy. 

The Edinburgh Art Festival's commission programme for 2015 celebrates the work of visual artists that are able to create fantastic imaginary worlds, and yet in doing so invite reflection on our own reality. Featuring new work by both established and emerging artists from Scotland and further afield, the theme of the Improbable City makes us think about how the improbable can in fact bring us closer to the real. 

Improbable venues in the Improbable City

Edinburgh Art Festival 2015 Emma Finn Double Mountain 2015

[Emma Finn, Double Mountain]

To tie into the theme of the Improbable City, the Edinburgh Art Festival has placed exhibitions in some of the city's more unlikely venues. Emma Finn's video exhibition Double Mountain (pictured above) has been placed in the unusual surroundings of the St Jame's Shopping Centre, while Hanna Tuulikki's performance work SING SIGN: a close Duet will take place in the historic closes of Edinburgh's Royal Mile, along with a video installation at Gladstone's Land

Those passing through Waverley Station will also spot Charles Avery's contribution to the Edinburgh Art Festival at Tree No. 5. Being the only railway station in the world to be named after a novel (Sir Walter Scott's Waverley), this fiction-inspired venue seems like a fitting spot for the Edinburgh Art Festival!

Meanwhile, the picturesque Old Royal High School on Calton Hill will play host to Marvin Gay Chetwynd's performance work The King Must Die, and Kemang Wa Luhulere's installation Join the dots. Ariel Guzik's exhibition Holoturian will be in the breathtaking Trinity Apse, a spectacular gothic kirk just of the Royal Mile and arguably one of our city's best architectural hidden gems. 

The Edinburgh Art Festival runs from 30th July until the 30th August 2015. You can pick up a programme from the Edinburgh Art Festival kiosk on Blair Street, or take at look at their website to find out more about the fascinating works on display. 

Find out more about the Edinburgh Art Festival in our Festivals guide >