Beatrice Colin gets a foretaste of Scotland’s biggest ever photographic exhibition, and finds images of Glasgow that go beyond yuppies and bully-boys.
Most peOple remember the first photographs they ever took: out of focus, a head chopped off, a ﬂared trouser leg in the background but, for pure nostalgia value, worth treasuring forever. Photography is accessible, cheap and, from wedding snaps to family portraits, the easiest way of recording your own past. Future Memories, the biggest
exhibition of photography ever seen I
in Scotland, opens on Sunday 24 November — a vast and varied portrait of Glasgow, captured on film by its inhabitants.
The exhibition has been organised by the Cranhill Arts Centre, and most ofthe prints on show have been taken by 22 of the photography workshop members. ‘We saw this as a kind of legacy for the future”, remarks co-ordinator Alistair McCallum, ‘to show fellow citizens our view of a multi-faceted city.‘
Not content with the two popular, contradictory images of Glasgow — populated by hard men on one hand
and croissant-eating New Men with car phones on the other, the exhibition shows hundreds of images of Glaswegians, and invites visitors to supply more. ‘The emphasis is on the lives of people round about us, and how their lives are changing‘, says McCallum. ‘So much has
disappeared over the last 30 years and we thought it was time to record what is happening now.‘ The prints, all taken over the last two years, range from the bizarre to the banal, from a picture ofdrunken men dressed up for Hallowe’en as Hare Krishnas, to a couple of teenage mothers in Easterhouse shopping centre. it does not point to ‘good‘ or ‘bad’ sides of the city, but shows the unmelodramatic reality of the place. Future Memories also follows up the success of last year’s Biscuit Tin, a month-long project which started out as ‘an empty shop and a photocopier’. The idea was that people would bring their most treasured photographs to be copied and displayed in an open-ended exhibition. Here, 640 people proudly presented their prints, and
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aturing Cranhill resident. Mrs Cameron
thousands more went to see them.
An element of participation is also central to this exhibition: the public are invited to bring in pictures of their family to be photocopied, enlarged and displayed and a camera- will be set up for punters to photograph themselves on the spot. Together with a display of vintage cameras and old photographs from the Museum ofTransport, the exhibition is an on-going documentary ofthe city.
Alistair McCallum remembers the woman who cried when she saw one of the photographs in the Biscuit Tin exhibition. It was ofthe street she had once played in and long since forgotten. These photographs are part of Glasgow‘s memory.
Future Memories is at Tramway, Glasgow from 24 Nov until 24 Jan.
manur— Franco ﬁle
Alxatem el Feixlsme
Banners draped irom the wall proclaim workers’ solidarity. Posters encourage
rebellion against the spectre oi lascism. Photographs show in cold, calculated monochrome, death on a massive scale. This is the Spanish Civil War without the mud.
The posters (universally irom the Republican side, alter all, this is a Trade Union sponsored event) glare down with a crypto-Stallnist gaudiness -all primary colours, muscle-bound he-men brandishing hammers, and pathetic children asking tor nothing more than literacy. But even in these deiiant images, it is possible to see the ilssures which ran through the Republican cause: in one oi the most striking posters, the workers are represented by a physically trail peasant and Franco's military junta by a sturdy, rifle-toting infantry man. There’s little doubt who was going to come all the worse in that struggle.
Hung alongside the posters are images designed to shock. Absent is Robert Capa’s famous Brigader, but while we do not see anyone actually in the process at dying, as captured by Capa, there is no escaping the horror at
the war, nor oi Hitler's exploitation at it as a way of honing his bombing techniques. Carnage aside, much at the remainder oi the exhibition is given over to sell-congratulary back-slapping over the great British eitorl to send out tinned milk to Basque children. lnettectual British posters, looking like retouched remnants irom World War I, seem even more absurd when they are presented alongside haunting images at a bomb-blasted school hall and one especially poignant photograph ot a girl in a shallow grave.
It the organisers had planned this as an example at Scottish aid to the oppressed, then their iailure is adequately symbolised by the untamished lntematlonal Brigade banner at the entrance. Ii, however, they simply wanted to show the hopelessness at a people given the choice between lascism and Stalinist communism, then this exhibition Is a provocative success. (Philip Parr)
No Pasaran is at The People’s Palace until Mon 2 Dec.
V lST PERSON
Jenny Aston talks about her three-year project to document the lives at Edinburgh's homeless.
‘It has been estimated that there are between 7000 and 10.000 homeless people living in Edinburgh. Certainly there are many people sleeping on the streets. but the majority of homeless men and women are not so noticeable— they usually live in B&Bs. sleep on the couches of friends or relatives. or stay in hostels, hidden from public view. 1 first became aware ofwhat might happen in this country when l visited North America in 1986: i had never seen people sleeping on the streets before. and I was horrified. Homelessness was at much the same stage there as it is here.
‘l started the project by photographing people who live and work at the Cyrenian Trust's farm. outside Edinburgh — the most hopeful place for the homeless l‘ve come across. i decided to concentrate on young people in my work. and l explained to everyone what I was doing, leaving it up to them to approach me. Most people realise that there is something wrong with the system. and that the only way to change it is to talk about it.
‘l was very ignorant when i started the work. i thought there must be something wrong with these kids. Then i found out about the legislative problems: benefits have been removed for 16—18-year-olds, to try to persuade them to stay at home, and not everyone can do that; sometimes their parents throw them out. There are not enought YTS schemes or housing either.
‘Without shows the lives of ﬁve people in their twenties, a time oflife when most people expect to be finding their role in society. lfthey could. these people would be doing the same. The photographs explore the reasons why people have lost the support of society, but thev do not show the traditional images of homelessness— these people do not look ‘homeless‘, in fact none of them sleeps rough. in each case the reasons for the person‘s situation is different. Viewers will have to redeﬁne their perceptions ofwhat homelessness really is. and what it means to those people who fall victim to the system.‘
Jenny Aston: Without. NetherbowArts Centre, Edinburgh. Until30 Nov.
The List 22 November—5 December 1991 57