Malcolm Dickson considers the TWSA: Four Cities Project.


Site sights

Glasgow is one of four cities hosting an exciting series ofsite specific works. Malcolm Dickson previews the works and anticipates some of the questions they will provoke.

Art projects occurring outwith the conventional gallery siting have been a characteristic feature of the Glasgow 1990 programme. This has ranged from fine art projects to community-based events. some low-profile. some reliant on the more ‘big splash‘ approach public art. art in public places. corporate art. site-specific installations in abandoned spaces. billboard interventions. architectural decoration: the area is vast and critically ill-defined. There are many different - and questionable reasons for going ‘beyond the gallery.‘

TSWA : Four Cities Project is a major public art project which will involve over 2() artworks in four different cities in Britain Glasgow. Plymouth. Derry and Newcastle which have been made in response to chosen unique sites. works which are not meant to blend in but which. it is hoped. will make people take notice. Six projects are happening in Glasgow. plus the documentation at the Third Eye Centre ofone project which has not been fulfilled.

The TSWA organisation is made up centrally of three individuals James Lingwood. Jonathan Harvey. and Tony Foster and the respective regional organisers. which in Glasgow means Euan McArthur of the Third Eye Centre. Although avoiding a single line ofthinking about the project. they do have ideas about what and why they are doing it. They have looked for sites which have some resonance. rather than using banal or anodyne sites; and through the work they have commissioned they aim to not just occupy spaces. but transform them. Such motivation differentiates it from the kind of ‘cultural shrubbery‘ which gets plonked in shopping centres or in front ofoffice blocks. TSWA‘s intention is to say something about the place where the works find themselves.

The Glasgow projects range from the ‘nomadic' to the more ‘locally embedded' (in the words of James Lingwood). Included are works by Judith Barry in the Old Cheese Market in the Candleriggs. Stuart Brisley in the graving docks in Govan. Peter Fischli and David Weiss at Glasgow Airport. Rosemarie Trockel in the St Enoch Centre. Janette Emery and Kevin Rowbotham who will use the Caledonia Road Church in the Gorbals. and Ian Hamilton Finlay who will create the only permanent work in the

fg‘. ‘“ §

Casting ot a human-size Chinese action-man by Stuart Brlsley.

project on the bridge pillars over the river Clyde by the Broomielaw. The project by Cildo Meirelles to construct a housing estate council house in the arches in John Street by the City Chambers was unfortunately blocked by Glasgow District Council as being ‘inappropriate‘. but the project‘s intended critical import is on show at the Third Eye Centre.

There is also an expansive educational programme accompanying the Glasgow package: local history workshops. an animation project. and sculpture workshops in the Botanic Gardens. Writer Jean Fisher will talk on the work ofJudith Barry and a one-day seminar on public art will take place (both at Transmission Gallery). The educational element. almost a separate project in itself. is no less vigorous than the main project. Both are mutually critical exercises. but the educational element is essential. not just in giving credibility to the project. but in assisting the deconstruction of the dominant ways artworks are read. by whom. and in what contexts. This is crucial since if ‘public art‘ is to mean anything then surely it involves an interaction with the public. The artist's role is possibly that of putting into the world an alternative set of ideas and views. Art is therefore not so much about parachuting avante garde works into the city but should in a community context be considered as one facet in a range ofsocial practices in which communities engage and through which they derive meaning and pleasure.

TSWA. however. is not an anti-gallery initiative. Lingwood would like to see a ‘more consistent exploration ofworking in this area both in temporary and permanent forms being generated by bodies such as the Third Eye Centre'. which suggests that public art should be the responsibility of fine art institutions rather than being the responsibility of autonomous commissioning agencies. This raises a contradiction since any demand for public art has to be issued from the community where it will be sited and it has to be established with local people.

TSWA does not bestow upon itself the responsibility of having clear cut answers to these problems. and it is part of a whole range of initiatives currently approaching various questions such as: does the efficacy of the artworks meet the stated intentions of the project as a whole? To what extent do the artworks imbue a chosen site‘s cultural inscription? How long-lasting are these endeavours? Hopefully these will be issues ofdebate at the seminar and in the resultant publication. Contradictions. however. should not necessarily limit the project but can enhance its discursive and enduring

quahnes Some TSWA projects are already completed. others will be opening on Sat [5 Sept. The seminar is (112.30prn. 20 0c! in Transmission Gallery. Bus tours oft/2e sites are also organised. For/itrt/ter information contact Third Eye Centre on ()4/ 33.3


The List 14— 27 September 199663