John McDiarmid Edinburgh: Assembly Rooms, Tue ll—Thu 27 Nov.
Thanks to the late, unlamented CHOGM, Edinburgh‘s Assembly Rooms, which doubled up as the official Commonwealth Centre, has been surrounded by all manner of blockades of late, spearheaded by a phalanx of baton-wielding boys in blue.
Now the public at large are allowed to sashay freely down the boulevard, it is worth keeping your eyes peeled for a brand new set of obstacles. For, like a thief in the night, Edinburgh College of Art graduate John McDiarmid is planning to place great chunks of what he calls ‘concrete furniture’ around phone boxes, lamp posts and the like. Better get there quick though - planning permission has neither been sought nor granted and demolition looks likely as soon as the authorities get wind of it.
Not that McDiarmid is in any way fussed or phased by this response. ‘All of my work‘s temporary by its very nature,’ he says. ‘and they‘ll be removed before long I‘m sure.’
It turns out CHOGM has been a prime inspiration for McDiarmid’s action. ‘lt's partly a response to the bizarre security precautions designed to prevent eventualities which never take place.‘ says the 22-year-old. ‘T hough I'm also interested in the general body language people use as they're walking down the street. and demands for personal space.’
Road to nowhere: one of John McDiarmid's interventions
McDiarmid‘s previous forays into this line of work - he is loathe to christen it art — include covering a 24-hour shop in Stockbridge with a huge makeshift tarpaulin, and putting a pair of ‘dead end’ signs outside a drive-in Macdonald‘s. ‘The signs stayed up for months, and were eventually vandalised,’ says McDiarmid. ’I thought that was that, but then I went past and they’d replaced them with brand new ones.‘
With all this anti-social activity, it is no shocker to find McDiarmid partial to The K Foundation's series of inspired, if ambiguous, actions/assaults on the art establishment. And yes, Guy Debord‘s Situationist wrecking crew are in the frame too — or not, as the case may be.
Any accusations that both McDiarmid and his forebears’ work and ideas have their heads glued firmly up their own orifices are dismissed. McDiarmid sees the current crop of young pretenders as the real cranks. Stand up and be counted out Damien Hirst and co, then. ‘All that’s just sensation seeking, and it doesn't do anything for anybody.’
Though political in part and provocative in intent, McDiarmid seems above all to be doing this for kicks, the crack. the buzz. Which sounds suspiciously like an artistic form of joyriding.
’There’s definitely an element of that,‘ he says. ’lt’s quite exciting doing stupid things and wondering if you're going to get caught for them.’ (Neil Cooper)
Writing on the wall: one of Bryden's Misunderstandings
completely open and sincere but of course, y0u can never be sure you have communicated your point.’
This month, Bryden's selection of popular stock phrases, printed in bold fonts on plasnc boards, will hang in eight of Glasgow's hippest, funkiest cafes Full of noise and distraction, places like Bar Miro, the Variety and Bargo are the Spiritual home of misheard and mistaken conversations. This appropriate context encourages various forms of catharsis for the project’s creator.
’When I went to Glasgow School of Art, I expected to have my mind blown,’ recalls Bryden who graduated last year. ’Actually, it was very dull and all about satisfying course criteria.
Glasgow: various venues including Bar Miro & Bargo until Thu 27 Nov.
Talking to a friend in a cafe recently, Alan Bryden described his public art project Misunderstandings. After hearing the details, the friend replied: 'Yeah, that $0unds really good.’ A limp anecdote maybe, but this banal sounding exchange is important. People regularly spout canned language, but what did Bryden’s friend
72 THE lIST 7-20 Nov 1997
really mean? Was he interested? Did he understand? Were they talking about the same idea? Inspired by this type of conversation, Bryden’s work celebrates various forms of verbal trickery. Everyone can chirp ’I know exactly what you're saying', but are we just kidding ourselves? Are we just talking baloney?
'I am interested in clarity,’ explains Bryden, 'and being able to make myself understood. You can be
Nothing about what I found interesting or exciting. After that I wanted to be boss.’
Misunderstandings is the result and Bryden hopes the project will be appreCiated by the gallery-av0iding public. But could the work be mistaken for a slick vodka promotion? ’Yeah, probably, but I don’t think It really matters,’ feels Bryden. 'For me it doesn’t matter if people think the work is profound of just funny.’ (Paul Welsh)
The Unconditioned State Of Search
Glasgow: Transmission Gallery until Sat 8 Nov *‘kir
In The Unconditioned State Of Search, Peter Zimmerman's installation of cardboard boxes is worth a visit in itself. Together with Vera Ferguson's Zen flower arrangements and Corey McCorkle's aids to enlightenment — a ’chakra’ video and a support for sitting in the lotus-position — the show could move its audience a little closer to Nirvana.
Mimicking the standard packaging of products like TVs and pizzas, Zimmerman's slickly finished work boasts corporate logos, slogans and serial numbers. But the sculpture, Temporary Architecture/Presen ta tion is more than a standard pastiche of consumer culture.
Ideas are packaged to sell, and cardboard boxes epitomise the process. To his credit, Zimmerman has created a selection that actually questions the artificial order this commercialism creates in the mind — the standardisation of people’s experience. Heading for bigger spaces, Zimmerman and the shows other five artists could encourage people to leave these limiting psychic boxes behind. The gods will be happy. (Paul Welsh)
Corey McCorkle's Another Inner Work-Out Video
Sir John Lavery
Glasgow: Burrell Collection until 25 Jan at * az
With news that Glasgow Museums director Julian Spalding has successfully lobbied to overturn the conditions of Sir William Burrell's will, to allow the loan of works from the collection abroad, one wonders what Spalding now hopes to bring to the Burrell through loan-bartering.
Although money at Glasgow Museums is tight, the Burrell needs to up its profile and pull in the crowds. Its current show is hardly going to do that.
Sir John Lavery is dubbed the Irish Glasgow Boy. Born in Belfast, he spent part of his life in Glasgow. His work spans the Victorian era through to the I940s. As a painter of royalty and the leisured classes, his subjects are shown on the tennis court, on horseback or standing against grand mantelpieces. These are interesting period pieces that show changing paint styles and fashion, but that is about it. More appealing and surprising are his scorched-looking landscapes of North Africa. (Susanna Beaumont)