Going underground

SARAH LOWNDES has dug deep to explore and document Glasgow’s sub- culture since 1971. David Harding investigates.

omehody had to do it sometime and Sarah Low iides has come up with a hook that will become a standard rel'erence l'or anyone interested in the contemporary art scene that dey‘eloped and still Tlotli‘ishes in (ilasgow. 'l‘hreaded through the hook too is a description ol the city's independent music scene which parallels and (H'Cl'itips with the art scene and reinl'orces the message that resounds throughout; it' you want to do something you don‘t hang around waiting to he invited you just get on and do it. lixhihitions. non-gallery and public art projects. maga/ines. records. posters. prints. graphics. l'lyers. grat'l'iti. demos. I).ls. cluhs. talks. readings. polemics. they are all here. Artist-led initiatiy'es are not new but they haye been central to the way that these (‘ilasgow artists created the opportunities tor their own dcy'elopment as artists. ()1. course. this cannot happen in a Vacuum and Lowndes. in her l'luid. i'eadalile style. descrilies the conte\t. links and contacts that contributed to this ’(iltlsgtiyy .\liracle'. The School ol' .»\rt. enlightened curators. artists. writers. galleries and curators in (ilasgow. lidinhurgh. Dundee. Manchester. Newcastle. London. Stockholm. Berlin. New York and l.os .-\ngeles all tigure in the L‘\tl'tttil‘dintll'_\ success oi- these artists UT the ‘)()s who. as one critic ptit it. practised a ‘contextually aware and socially conscious conceptualism‘.

It was a real counter-culture moy'ement because it was carried out in the lace ol‘ a determined local. ai‘t/ciy'ic opposition and a consciotis lack of support. at crucial times. trom the funding agencies. The Transmission (iallery. t'rom its inception and through its many committee members. is in eyery way at the centre of the story. It is an astonishing testament to the imagiiiatiye \‘igour. grit and determination of all that this should he so. One can now see clearly a truly halcyon period when Transmission. (‘(‘.-\ and Tramway were all


mounting e\hihitions ol~ truly international signilicancc and the subsequent erosion ol this high ground through ciyic indil't'ereiice and opposition. It was a situation made ey en worse by the w astel'ul. lottery-lunded makeoyers ol' the two city-run \enues which sery ed to diminish and downgrade the \‘istltli arts opportunities in the city.

'lantalising questions: how is it that. within the space of ten years. two groups of artists who attended (ilasgow School of .-\rt gained international e\postire and recognition to a degree that has not happened in

(iithgow Tot‘ almost [00 )‘L‘al's'.’ :\lid does the location oi.

liy'e ci'eatiy’e industries like the BB('. STV. Scottish Opera and Ballet haye more impact on the \isual art culture of the city than the \arious National .\liiseums and (ialleries hayc on that ol' lidinhurgh‘.’ is it just too easy to suggest that the dil‘lcreiice lies in the working class. '\\'ha's like tis'.". ol' the hunter and the middle-class gentilin ol the latter"? What is lrankly astonishing is the large mimhers ol‘ artists li managed to count around ‘)lli many ot whom e\hihit regularly here and abroad and earn a liying lrom their art. The downside is they no longer need to teach in art schools. \Vhat‘s more worrying is that some choose not to do so. is the success ol' the Modern Institute now where it‘s at'.’ .-\nd hecause ot that. is Transmission no longer the TlliL‘l'llm it once was'.’

Low rides will now know that there are a number oi errors of tact and other mistakes in the hook. (iiy en the rigour she imposed on herself ot‘ interyiewing and engaging with so many ot‘ the participants this is not surprising. This book will sell out. The l‘ew ineyitahle slips and errors will hopet'ully' he put right in the reprint.

Social Sculpture by Sarah Lowndes (StopStop, £12 ). Log onto www.stoptop.org.uk to order a copy.


CCA. Glasgow. until Sun 26 Aug 0..

First set-rt in the 8:53;: Vanilla“. .it ii‘it‘ ltli§i \t"‘»?t‘<' t‘iit 'l‘l‘itt‘t‘. Si”er .‘i Camp-f 's‘.’ .‘s‘urrds ;:; .i tiense txxi’y (it work. teatunria ileei‘ t‘reattf

a sound installatrnri. some ptit’itotiraplis. .in interactin- \.\t‘h§1!it‘.itit‘rtll :‘st‘reeri \itit‘s‘ piece. a it‘rilititw ilil“. .rxi’ .i or me?

You might be it‘itrtl\.t"i" to! ttiirikiriii that [iritti‘git‘itie‘i‘i- »‘\t‘»fiilt' it; it‘. rit‘t‘ti otsorr‘eririettr il.t‘.t‘t1‘itllt‘i unorri‘ "t her ear before she embarks on another litEIttilt‘T‘. of her stray. titit the riitiltiiiiedia rrtitpi itiiiriti \.‘.i irks. thanks to her knack tor riiiret illtlif; and eryrptir: scenes. ntidriinti thi- gallery Visitor toward i'te.i:;_ v.1tlioiit ever itlil‘,’ lilytrrtilllt; ttit- iltzitli of her rtoiiiplex narratiué.

l'hat narrative concerns a eoriiniiiriitya drawn together in the aftermath of a hurricane. camped out at a river's edge. hay/int) rtast oil the constraints ol (Il‘Jli sorrer Wliil mtieli consideration ot mother daughter relationships; along the way. It's a fractured fairytale. too, \‘Jliii earth llltil‘.‘l(ill(li work developing an aspect of the story. The photographs, tor example. serve as‘ an introduction to the characters. while the sound piece otters halHieard pointers and the film, the most coherent work. ties even/thing together. altieit incoricliisively.

The tour screen vrderi offers further clues to understanding by playing With traditional eirierria's linear narrative. offering little Jumps in time that both illustrate and obfuscate. Mere liltintly. i)‘,’ ilEt‘Jlllt] the fourth screen face the other three. Antille riiakes it plain that this is a work that can never he fiillv grasped. but one in which the viewer must irnriierse themselves. rebuilding the story as they go.

Depending on your ternperarrient. this ‘.'/lii either strike you as a frustrating means of exploring a broad range of themes. or a subtle enquiry that never stoops to didactic rriethods. Either way, it's worth spending time 'f/liil it to find out. idack lvlottrami

-'- THE LIST 31