As contemporary artistic practice has become ever more polymorphous and multispatial, large scale exhibitions have accommodated a wider array of emerging nonmodern epistemologies, materialities, and temporalities ‘in the middle’ (Latour, 1993, 47). As a critical means of considering contemporary art’s homologous non-modern, this paper refracts two influential global exhibitions of contemporary art – dOCUMENTA (13) and Il Palazzo Encyclopedia – through the lens of Medievalisms Studies. Medievalisms Studies’ challenge to the ‘simplified binarization of premodernacts and modern identities’ (Fradenburg, 1997, 213) invites deeper scrutiny of contemporary art’s knowledges, materialities, and chronopolitics. Developing the medievalist analogies of the compendium and the relic, I focus on specific exempla presented within the curatorial frameworks of two key biennale that offer a macro-cosmic discourse on contemporary art’s developing relations with knowledges, materials, and time. In unfolding anachronic materialist narratives, a nonmodern sensibility promised to liberate emerging art from the social constructivist paradigms that still dominate contemporary art. As a corollary of their nonmodern materialist epistemologies, the biennale that form my exempla also attempted to (dis)place the practices they curated through a polytemporality in which now-and-then and here-and-there areintertwined.
Artists in the City: SPACE in 1968 and Beyond
Edited by Anna Harding
Designed by Modern Activity
Published by SPACE (Art Services Grants Limited)
Distributed by Cornerhouse Publications, HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester M15 4FN. Price £19.95
SPACE’s 50th Anniversary Archive Display
SPACE Mare Street, London
19 January – 17 March 2018
In celebration of SPACE’s 50th anniversary, a display in the project space presents previously unseen material from SPACE’s archive covering the years 1968-75 as well as photographs of early events and studio sites, capturing the founding years of SPACE and AIR, the Art Information Register which was the sister organization to SPACE. This material forms the basis of the book Artists in the City: SPACE in 1968 and beyond to be published in March.
The book launch event is set for Saturday 17 March, followed by a panel discussion with selected contributors at Whitechapel Art Gallery on Thursday 22 March.
Neil Mulholland – The Unlearning Organisation: Cultural Devolution and Scotland’s Visual Arts 1967-2017
Building on primary research in CCA/GSA’s Third Eye Centre archive and interviews with key stakeholders, this chapter elaborates the ways in which visual artists based in Scotland developed their own civic infrastructure in tandem with the devolution of state arts patronage from London to Edinburgh from 1967 onwards. It demonstrates how the Keynesian arms-length principal inherited by the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) generated a productive tension with nascent Artist Run Initiatives (ARIs) in Scotland. With limited state support, artists successfully developed and ran their own platforms while the Scottish Arts Council founded and led more generously funded (competing) national and civic arts organisations.
Realising Tom Nairn and Bob Tait’s vision of a Scottish International, Scotland’s nascent ARIs bypassed official Scottish and British arts bodies, finding a blueprint and network for their activities in ARIs such as SPACE (London) and PS1 (New York City).
As a means of mapping means of production and systems of distribution over the past half century, the chapter presents snapshots of organisational change at pivotal moments in the devolution of the arts in Scotland: 1971, 1979, 1992 and 1999.
These case studies provide a basis for critical analysis of the devolution of the visual arts since the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament. Following political devolution in 1999, Scotland’s Governments have revoked JM Keynes’ arm’s length Patron State model in favour of the New Labour experiment with Structuration and creative economics that is Creative Scotland. Throwing SAC on the arms-length-bodies bonfire that has raged across R-UK, a centrist ‘creative economy’ model has been accelerated by the SNP.
In some respects, post-devolution Scotland is less devolved than it was in 1994 and, also, less democratically accountable. The chapter proposes that the Scottish Government may best unlearn the existing Union State apparatus by adapting the distinctive model of collaborative advantage that artists have developed to successfully govern their activities over the past 50 years.
I wrote a short report on Praktika II : which formed part of the 21 Years of Deveron Arts Celebrations in Huntly, December 2017
21 Years of Deveron Arts
“By taking stock we reflected on our position as a key player for socially engaged art in Scotland. Working with Anthony Schrag and David Harding, we held Praktika II. Praktika was a 3 day intensive workshop in 2008 which brought 12 artists together with David Harding, Rosie Gibson and Deveron Projects to consider, and raise the profile of, socially engaged art practice.
Praktika was also the first time we worked with Anthony, since he has done two projects with us, A Perfect Father Day and Lure of the Lost. Unlike the original Praktika this was just a two hour session, however rather than purely artists this workshop brought together a selection of artists, academics, community members and policy makers. In order to gain an insight from all parties involved in socially engaged projects. The workshop considered the “wicked problem”, as Anthony puts, it of socially engaged practice and how Deveron Projects can move forward.”
Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt (p111-119) is my contribution to:
GENERATION: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland Guide and Reader
Edited by Moira Jeffrey
National Galleries of Scotland and Glasgow Life
Over the last twenty-five years Scotland has had a growing reputation as an international centre of artistic innovation and experiment for the visual arts. These books accompanyGENERATION: 25 Years of Contemporary Art, a major nationwide exhibition programme showcasing some of the best and most significant art to have emerged from Scotland over the last twenty-five years.
The GENERATION Guide provides a fully illustrated guide to the programme with entries on the work of more than eighty artists being exhibited in over sixty venues throughout Scotland and information about group exhibitions and other projects. It forms the first comprehensive overview of the art of the period. It includes Turner prize winners Douglas Gordon, Simon Starling and Martin Boyce and 2014 nominees Duncan Campbell and Ciara Phillips.
The GENERATION Reader, edited by writer Moira Jeffrey, provides the first collection of key documents from the period including essays, critical writing and artists’ own texts, and offers a guide to the ideas, events and debates that shaped a generation. In it, a selection of archive texts from the period sit alongside newly-commissioned writing which includes an introduction by novelist Louise Welsh and specially commissioned essays by Juliana Engberg, Nicola White, Dr Sarah Lowndes, Professor Andrew Patrizio, Professor Francis McKee and Jenny Richards.
GENERATION Guide and Reader books come in slipcase.
Extent 240pp/128pp. Paperback. 95 colour illustrations, guide and reader in slipcase.
The Four Seasons: MacInnes over Africa
Images: Angus B. MacInnes African Affair paintings (2013-14).
My presentation for the Steven Campbell Trust Lecture at CCA, Glasgow. (10 mins)
The Steven Campbell Trust are delighted to announce that artist Ross Sinclair will be giving the sixth annual Steven Campbell Trust Lecture.
In the role of emcee, Ross Sinclair will be joined by artists, writers, curators and educators; Ellis Luxemburg, Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, Jim Colquhoun, David Harding and Neil Mulholland to cast a critical eye over the current state of the visual arts community flourishing in the shadow of the much used (and abused) paradigm of ‘The Glasgow Miracle’.
The Scotland-wide GENERATION project is currently celebrating the development of contemporary art in Scotland over the last 25 years. It has brought exhibitions and projects by over 100 artists to over 60 galleries around the country including landmark installations by both Ross Sinclair and Steven Campbell. To coincide, the BBC produced Scotland’s Art Revolution: The Maverick Generation, featuring Sinclair and contemporaries, charting the development of the recent Scottish scene. But can these kind of large scale, media positioned, centrally funded events ever hope to reflect what’s really going on? Let’s find out.
Sinclair has worked for the past couple of years on an AHRC funded project with Francis McKee, Director of CCA, in partnership with The Glasgow School of Art: The Glasgow Miracle- Materials for Alternative Histories. The project has explored and rationalised existing archival material from the Third Eye Centre and CCA (material spanning the period 1972- the present) and through which Sinclair has conducted an ongoing series of long form interviews with artists building an archive for future historians: http://glasgowmiracle.blogspot.co.uk