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Caps on head: Roderick Buchanan (left) and his portrait Yankee, Kreuzberg. Berlin , 1996
RODERICK BUCHANAN is perhaps the art world's equivalent of a trainspotter. But he is more interested in football shirts and baseball hats than locomotives. Words: Susanna Beaumont
Roderick Buchanan wanders in wearing an East Berlin hockey club sweatshirt. No great shakes. you’re thinking. just a bit of memorabilia picked up from some faraway. insignificant club.
Then you remember Buchanan is the Glasgow artist who a few years back photographed any Glaswegian he came across who happened to be wearing a shiny. Fiorucci AC Milan football shirt. Or when travelling in Europe. stopped and photographed any passer-by who was sporting the logo of New York‘s baseball team on a hat. shirt orjacket.
But don‘t get him wrong. Buchanan is not simply a logo junkie-cum-trainspotter type getting high on spotting sportswear. It‘s just that for Buchanan every logo or piece of sports gear tells a story — about alliances. fads and fantasies. about a global team of ardent supporters or unknowing followers unaware of their sartorial references.
‘Fred Perry or even Dr Martens boots — though you can buy the stuff in every city — it means different things to different social groups.‘ explains Buchanan.
Appropriater Buchanan is one of five artists taking part in Tales Front The City. The first show at Edinburgh‘s Stills Gallery after a Lottery-funded enlargement of the space. it takes a look at urban life. adventures and identity. The line-up also includes London-dwellers Tracey Emin. Georgina Starr and
'I always wanted to be mobile «- l was a chameleon, and mixed with toffs, brainy kids and the fly boys.’ Roderick Buchanan
Gillian Wearing - who was shortlisted for this year‘s Turner Prize — and Glasgow-based but Leicester-born David Shrigley.
It was while growing up in Glasgow that Buchanan. now 32. was made aware of the possible side-effects of sign-posting your allegiances. Buchanan‘s mother wouldn‘t allow him to wear his green and white Celtic football club scarf for fear of provoking sectarian abuse. Years on. Buchanan’s work teases at the potency and power of identification. Just as the Celtic scarf is laden with meaning to indigenous eyes. it would probably be viewed as a sensible article of clothing if worn on a chilly day in Iceland.
liver one for social fluidity. Buchanan says: ‘I always wanted to be mobile and used to be a wee bit worried about that .- that l was a chameleon. that I mixed with toffs. brainy kids and the fly boys.‘ Buchanan‘s work steps beyond identification. through what you wear to ideas of nationhood and ethnicity.
‘I used to think I could spot a Catholic or a Protestant.‘ says Buchanan. who was considering what it was like to ‘Iook Glaswegian‘ around the time war broke out in the Balkans. ‘It was when the term ethnic cleansing had just been coined.‘ he says. ‘We think it couldn’t happen here but the ethnicity of places has always been manipulated.‘
In a new video piece entitled A Short Walk Through Edinburgh. on show at Stills. Buchanan has filmed footage of four roads. labelled Ulster. Union. Scotland and Parliament. Buchanan threads the footage together into a narrative. taking in different parts of the city.
‘Somebody outside the city might understand the code.‘ says Buchanan. ‘but the code is never static.‘ He‘s right. Just two weeks ago the word Parliament didn‘t mean all it does today in Scotland.
Tales From The City is at Stills, Edinburgh, Sun 5 Oct-Sat 22 Nov.
Eavesdropping on the art world
EDINBURGH'S FRUITMARKET has taken criticism from some quarters over its exhibitions policy. As the premier contemporary art venue in Scotland, the venue has been criticised for failing to deliver enough hard-edged shows. But news reaches us that the gallery has been shortlisted for this year's Prudential Awards For The Arts. Mo years ago, the award was clinched by Glasgow's Tramway, which has long championed the avant-garde. Maybe it will be a case of the twain meeting. Also on the shortlist are the Contemporary Art Society and the Laboratory at The Ruskin School of Drawing, Oxford. Results will be announced on Thu 30 Oct.
THE CONTROVERSY-FRIENDLY art show Sensation has now opened in London. Ad king Charles Saatchi, from whose private collection the work is drawn, is said to collect only work by artists resident in London. Hence Glasgow-dweller Douglas Gordon, who won the 1996 Turner Prize, is not included. So let's not be fooled by PR that this is a survey of contemporary British art.
GORDON IS WORKING closer to home however. He’s making a semi- permanent neon installation for Glasgow's Brunswick Street. A collaboration with the city’s Visual Art Project, the work is currently on hold, while the authorities decide whether to grant planning permission.
OFF THE URBAN CIRCUIT. meanwhile, is Ross Sinclair. The man who gave us Real Life Rocky Mountain at Glasgow's CCA has not only shaved off his dreadlocks, but is also contemplating nature in the raw. In his latest exhibition (on display at Iain Irving projects, in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire) Sinclair has taken his back - which feaures a tattoo of the words 'Real Life' - to the natural world. The project is entitled Real Life vs Nature, and who knows who‘ll be the victor? The show runs until Sat 11 Oct. For details call 01779 841 311.
At one with nature: Ross Sinclair
contemplates real life
26 Sap-9 Oct 1997 TIIEUST 83