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Not all contemporary art is apolitical and complacent. CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, a new art show at the CCA offers a rallying“ cry. Will you listen?
Words: John Beagles
A consistent criticism of recent art has been its perceived lack of political content. Many artists are today dismissed as mute careerists. faithfully upholding institutional power and rarely rallying against political injustice. When artists do get heavy with apolitical point. the detractors argue. it is frequently little more than superficial nostalgia. In sucking out the hard-nosed political content. all that remains is the attractive shell of reflective radicalism.
High Red Centre. curated by Kirsty Ogg at the CCA. forms part of a counter-offensive season of events entitled (‘ii'i/ l)i.m/n'(lim('e. The six artists showng are billed as those ‘who make art beyond political theory. choosing rather to adopt a proactive and self- determined stand.‘ They are apparently ‘working close to the edge of law‘. they ‘use tactics of the terrorist. the hacker and the rip-off merehant.‘
In an amusing fantasy of cultural destruction. the
American artist Ed Ruscha. once painted a picture of
the Museum of San Francisco on fire. Here the South Alrican born artist. Kendell (ieers. is scheduled to arm a similar destructive blow to the sanctity of the
74 THE lIST 4-18 lei) 1999
The six featured artists are 'working close to the edge of law', they 'use the tactics of the terrorist, the hacker and the rip-off merchant'.
The political process: Eva Rothschild's 'Invisible (In Progress)‘
gallery: he‘s going to explode a hole in one of CCA's walls. Meanwhile the New Yorker Gregory Green. infamous for his construction of DIY bombs. will be showing a more covert. user-friendly item of cultural sabotage: the radio in a suitcase. An item that no self- respecting agent provocateur should leave home without.
Another consequence of the collapse of the old orthodoxy is the fragmentation of feminism. While eschewing the more brutal depictions of such violence. as represented by the late Jo Spence. Christine Borland‘s piece promises to raise similar
questions over the ethical and moral content of medical practices. It is an illegal documentation of
the contents of the Anatomy Museum in Montpellier.
The ability of the prankster to reveal the snarling head of corporate capitalism behind an amiable facade has recently been powerfully highlighted by the British comedian. Mark Thomas. The French artist Phillipe Meste adopts similar ‘spoof' strategies. He recorded on video his setting tip of a gun stall in a flea market. where. decked in full military garb. he offers up machine guns from behind a sand bag defence — a wheeze which earned him 48 hours in jail.
[Eva Rothschild will present a smouldering fusion of utopian dreams with street violence. The symbolic aftermath of civil disobedience. the ubiquitous car tyre will. rather than fill the gallery with the toxic fumes of combustion. waft incense — the sweet smelling aroma of hippie liberation. Accompanying all of the above. Tomatsu Shomei‘s photographs document riots in Tokyo in I969. a perhaps less well- know instance of revolutionary confrontation. One thing is for sure — there are still barricades but who is willing to climb them'.’
High Red Centre is at the CCA, Glasgow, Sat 6 Feb—Sat 27 Mar.
Art news heard over the installation.
SO, THE DIRECTOR of the Scottish Arts Council, Seona Reid, is leaving to take up the post of Director at Glasgow School Of Art. After rumours of accountants and
individuals with only a fondness for
watercolours being touted for the job, there is understandably great rejoicing among the School's rank and file. How very different from Edinburgh College of Art, which
seems to be at the mercy of Heriot- Watt University’s expansionist tendencies. Will the tutors take to the barricades like they reportedly
did in Glasgow when talk of Heriot-
Watt’s take-over gets serious? MEANWHILE AT EDINBURGH'S
Fruitmarket Gallery, news is shortly
expected on the Scottish Office Inquiry Report into their Northern Lights project. A light sculpture by
Peter Fink hangs in the balance since planning permission was refused in 1997. With financial support in place
- including a £162,000 Lottery award - it appears that the City of
Edinburgh Council fears it will open
the doors to a rash of ‘light pollution' across the city. Another
possibility is that the light work will
take attention away from the Science Festival Centre proposed in the empty site opposite the
Fruitmarket on Market Street.
ALAN CURRALL IS currently seeking advice. The Glasgow-based artist, in
a quest for handy tips on how to defend himself against an intruder,
turns to his big brother, John. Yet it
is seemingly to no avail. He later
turns to his sister Jackie, obviously a
dab hand with surgical spirit, on how to recover from his wounds.
Curious about Currall's current state
of well-being? Visit the website
www.a|lhorizons.org.uk - this forms
part of All Horizons Club,
spearheaded by Liverpool's 3 Month
Gallery. Also on offer are free tutorials whereby a minibus of
artists pull up at various institutions
to offer advice on everything from
a bulldog tutors to dodgy plumbing.
For details call Chris Evans on 0141 564 8018.
Hanging on the telephone: Alan Currall says it is good to talk