Unbounded Encounters: Transforming Sallies

While St Andrews isn’t exactly short on locations for pop up exhibitions and art shows, it takes a special kind of event to turn the cloisters of Sallies Quad into […]


While St Andrews isn’t exactly short on locations for pop up exhibitions and art shows, it takes a special kind of event to turn the cloisters of Sallies Quad into Fife’s answer to the White Cube gallery. Last Friday’s anthropological photography installation brought together art and anthropology and made the familiar space into something original and intriguing.

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Elspeth Parsons and Ilinca Vanau curated the ‘Unbounded Encounters’ exhibition as a part of the Royal Anthropological Institute’s annual undergraduate conference, held this year for the first time in St Andrews. Videos and photographs taken by students as part of ethnographies and studies of scenes from Berlin to Papua New Guinea were beamed onto the cloisters and accompanied by archived footage of the Peruvian Amazon.

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The sound of shamanic drumming echoed through the space, creating a vibrant and intense atmosphere that spectators couldn’t help but to feel a part of. Wandering through the cloisters, attendees found themselves reflected and shadowed in the light shows, somewhere between St Andrews and Siberia as the environment flickered and changed around them. The university’s long history lent the images a sense of something ancient, and the pictures and drumming made the cloisters seem otherworldly and strange, a blend of cultures, the familiar and the unknown merging to create an evening unlike anything I’d seen in St Andrews.

Image © Unbounded Encounters artists