—Issue 3, June 2018
Editors Letter (iii)
Reflections on Glasgow International
Contributing to Utopia
Loll Junggeburth talks to Richard Parry
The biennial as a concept has become a common phenomenon in the art world since its sudden growth in popularity in the 1990s. Glasgow’s iteration has been running since 2005, and with the close of new director Richard Parry’s first year on the job, here are a few thoughts on the nature of the format of the biennial, and the role GI plays for artists, organisers and audience in Glasgow and within the international context.
Art Work / Hard Work: an Exercise in Being Both
Rachel Boyd talks to the In Kind project
Site specificity is a polyphonic term, taking on a number of meanings within the creative sphere. Site-specific work, by definition, utilises its immediate environment to retain its composition and meaning, as in the land art movement of the 1970s. In this essay, I will consider the notion of site-specificity in relation to Glasgow International; site-specific in that its authority and influence is derived from its location within the city.
A Conversation with the Founders of G.O.D.S.
Anya Bowcott talks to G.O.D.S.
Everyone is a dancer and everyone is a teacher at the Glasgow Open Dance School (G.O.D.S), a non-profit organisation that programmes and facilitates free dance and movement-related workshops. For this year’s Glasgow International, G.O.D.S facilitated a weekend of explorative provocations and events that looked at connection and support, racial politics, and the ways in which we can sustain ourselves under capitalist patriarchy. The G.O.D.S weekend was held at The Old Barn at Pollok Country Park.
Looking at art makes me feel bored, sad, tired, lonely and mean. Degree Shows are the worst kind of exhibition. All that fresh art. It’s like trying to have a conversation in a club.
The GSA 2018 MFA Degree Show at the Glue Factory attempts to address this problem by employing a number of lures and tricks. This lot of graduates endear themselves to you. You first start to believe that they are a charming bunch when you learn that they have tailored clothing for one another by hand. One of them serenades you in the bathroom. Sweetly, hiccupping occasionally. The singer is possibly drunk, a little dozy, sounds like she may be in a karaoke bar on a Monday night. The lights have been turned on but the bar staff can’t bring themselves to tell her to go home. I have never been serenaded while on the loo and (critically speaking) I can highly recommend it.
An Interview with Ross Birrell
Martha Horn talks to Ross Birrell
When walking into the CCA you don’t expect the smell of hay. At the moment it comes to greet you when passing the bookshop, before you even enter the exhibition. Inside, great stacks of the stuff dividing walls and providing seats for visitors. As an icebreaker, I mention the smell to Ross Birrell when we begin to walk round his show. I am told that importantly and emblematically it is straw rather than hay - straw is used for horses’ bedding and hay for food. This is a sign of things to come; every element a balancing act between the actual and the metaphorical.
‘Health is What You Make It’
Kate Frances Lingard & Rebecca Gill talks to Ilona Sagar, Kirsty Hendry and Gary Zhexi-Zhang
At Lab-oratory, the workshop organised as part of Self-Service, one of the student onlookers from the Peckham Experiment was present. Throughout the discussion they maintained that the participants involved were always aware of their role as ‘guinea pigs’. They owned their choice. This raises questions of agency within a larger system where life is object to political manipulations. As addressed in the essay Exhaustion and Exuberance, Verwoert questions:
When do we commit to perform of our own free will? And when is our commitment elicited under false pretences to enforce the ideology of high performance and boost someone else’s profits? And who is there to blame if we chose to exploit ourselves?
Notes Towards an Essay on Identity
Colm Guo-Lin Peare talks to Lubaina Himid
At these moments, the sheer much-ness of information can become too apparent and the multitude of opinions can be overwhelming; the forum is crowded and noisy, full of shouting and commotion. As these notes will attest to, I have not been able to write a narrative as I hoped I might. I cannot find one way to engage with what we have and what I am, with how to be. The deep necessity of narrative has been dragged back, as ever, by its deep insufficiency. The way I can describe it is through this metaphor (deeply necessary, deeply insufficient): when I was born I was given a loop of jade so that if I fell as a baby it would shatter instead of me.
—Issue 2, March 2018
Editors Letter (ii)
As such, Oldfield-Ford’s work asks us to question the government’s motivations for attacking the public housing scheme, and the significant lack of voice which is given to the residents who saw the brutalist high rise blocks as their home. Although there is good reason to rethink the high rises, reflection is not provoked by simply destroying them - this just leaves vulnerable residents without an alternative. This much is stated by theorist Owen Hatherley in his book Militant Modernism. As Hatherley states, ‘the selling off and demolition of public housing is presented as a philanthropic gesture’ - as something to be thankful for. Hatherley continues: ‘the modernist/high-rise movement was the centuries greatest public project, covered up by this pitiful excuse to get rid of it, that concrete high rise blocks are an “eyesore”.’
On the Wider and Historical Contexts Around the Withdrawal of Transmission’s RFO Status
Tiffany Boyle, for Mother Tongue
“Diversity” came up in the vocabulary of that event and its discussions many times, but was used more akin to “variety” in meaning. Whilst in written form it appears that equalities, diversity, and inclusion are fairly specific in their intended usage, in their everyday application things become slippery. Their malleability potentially allows for many aspects of programming, staffing, and audiences to be contorted and skewed in ways which help fulfill set remits. This is to the benefit of comparatively well-funded RFO organisations rather than the intended beneficiaries outlined on paper.
Poetry’s special qualities have attracted another kind of attention, leading poetry to be phagocytised by the capitalistic forces of the contemporary art world. As Latimer has noted, poetic language has been appropriated for adding value to art not only by artists, but by “those who make business around them”. This occurrence was discussed in the summer of 2012, when the website Triple Canopy published a controversial essay entitled International Art English: On the Rise - and the Space - of the Art-World Press Release by artist David Levine and Alix Rule, a sociology PhD student. In a bid to provide a scientific analysis of the linguistic quirks of what they dubbed IAE (International Art English), the pair computer-fed press releases collated from the online art journal e-flux, and discovered such IAE tics as: habitually improvising nouns, hammering out fashionable terminology, and abusing prefixes.
Definitely, the conversation about why are you here or why are you trying to do this even though this might not be great for you has come up quite a few times in the last few weeks. And it always comes back down to the fact that survival and success for people of colour, or marginalised people generally, is framed in very like traditional ways, and that has to be navigated personally and structurally. I don’t think white people understand that. It’s like “if you hate it then why do you still do this or why are you still fighting?” But it’s so much more than that. For us it’s not just a flippant decision. For me personally that decision could be the difference between being disowned by my family or not. That’s not the only way it can work, for each person of colour it’s nuanced in a different way.
I am conscious of situating my body, an Irish body, in an appropriate context. It is a process of working out the afflictions of the postcolonial personality: inferiority, helplessness and restricted identity, while embracing positivity, imagination, resilience and duality. Situating myself physically within the confines of the page on the floor, the page becomes the Fifth Province. A site of healing.
I was recently reading Étienne Balibar’s book on borders and their meaning, Politics and the Other Scene. Balibar eloquently describes how a political border is not just a line that separates two nation-states or, for that matter, that happens to cut between two neighbouring trees. Simply put, a border always is and does something more: it shapes and gives meaning to the world, and subsequently defines the ways we live in it. In Balibar’s argument, borders have no essence that stays intact; what they mean and the experiences they generate vary according to their time and place; borders reductively define (and impose) national identities, creating a sense of belonging and, accordingly, non-belonging.
—Issue 1, November 2017
Editors Letter (i)
The wording of the revised Prevent Duty Guidance for Scotland (2015) specifically refers to “Islamist extremists”, “The white supremacist ideology” and “The threat from terrorism relating to Northern Ireland” - in which there are “several dissident republican groups”. According to the guidelines, “The Government has defined extremism under the Prevent Strategy as: “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”. There is a group operating by assimilations of these values nested in our educational institutions.
You’re feeling like you’ve walked into a trap; Claydon knows what he’s doing; and it’s a very important experiment which needs powerful objects to collide. He says in the museum an object loses “its efficacy or its agency but it’s gained another kind of agency of cultural commodity or mouthpiece”. He says like a “moon rock or a lute from the 15th century”, he does not say ‘but better still my art needs objects charged with exotic energy’. Through his desire to reanimate these appropriated objects his work in fact re-enacts the deadening energy of the museum without disrupting it.
In the case of Deutsche Bank, the synthesis of leisure and labour acquires such an enhanced form, that one can adopt the term ‘playbour’. Coined by video-game theorist Julian Kucklich, this portmanteau initially refers to a form of leisure — mainly video games or social networks —, which is co-opted as a form of labour. The playbour pivots on the willingness of web fans, “who do not necessarily see their input as being directly valuable, or themselves as being exploited as a source of free labour”.
In the photograph, we have taken a step back, with the backs of the jubilant crowds turned to us. Their dark obsession with nuclear energy is revealed; the subject of this image is not the monument, rather mankind revelling in its abilities. Oppenheimer said “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”, and here we see the crowd give him a standing ovation. The monolithic memorial rises above their heads, interfering with the boundless expanse of white sky, and it seems to me to be humanity, putting their hand up to show nature what they can do too.
Art school seems to make a duty out of an ‘art’ way of thinking, allotting time and records and outcomes to prove that Art has been done. Say even in a geographical sense: the school provides a studio space for us to produce and work in to complete our degree in Art, separate to our private dwelling place where we fulfil our lives, this therefore prescribes a dichotomic art production/private life mode of living, the equivalent of the expected office/home system of economy that divides human existence into two separate parts, working and leisure. It’s here that I’ve been struggling to find the singing heart of making art, the poetic life of functionless creation.
Furthermore, the dissemination of these false images has enabled Aung San Suu Kyi to claim that all evidence of state-sponsored systematic ethnic cleansing is ‘fake news’. Consequently, Suu Kyi and the Burmese military leadership can sustain a frankly delusional denial of mass human rights abuses. The destabilisation of evident ‘truth’ pioneered by Postmodernism was initially imbued with emancipatory impetus and inspired many post-colonial movements and gender studies to de-naturalise seemingly universal truths and expose the power structures they sustain. Yet it has now provided politicians with an insidious political tool for legitimising challenges and preserving their own power.
It’s a nerve-racking act, to bare oneself, to bare one’s style. It’s publicising the very specific method of faking that the performer employs, both in their artistic and social life. This doesn’t elevate style over substance, rather it realises that style is substantial. Art, and writing, is perhaps not so much about exhibiting what you know but expressing how you came to know it.