Glasgow has been buzzing the last couple of weeks with the International Festival of Visual Art. I haven’t been around everything yet (I have the weekend to rectify that), but here’s a round up of some of it.
All Divided Selves, Luke Fowler.
A film about the development and subsequent marginalisation of RD Laing’s ideas was always going to generate interest in Glasgow and predictably enough, the one-off showing at GFT was packed out.
The film is structured half-way between a traditional biopic and an installation video. Clips cut in and out abruptly, with Fowler’s own footage of gravel, streams, parks and flashed of modern Glasgow the main glue in between. There’s no information to say who, what or when exactly we’re watching, but the wealth of material acquired is obvious. Music comes from some sparse compositions by Ally Roberts (who makes a few brief and unnecessary appearances).
I got the feeling the fragmented structure was possibly Fowler’s attempt to mould form with subject matter, emphasising a perceived lack of clear structure in Laing own highly personalised and artisticaly-influenced academic body of work (Laing sometimes appears almost as bewildered as those he studied and at times cuts a self-contradictory figure). To this end, the approach works, but I couldn’t help feeling a little corralled by the director’s hand, as if forced to look through a carefully broken pane. Nonetheless, and despite the fact that I immediately wanted to go online to find longer versions of footage used, All Divide Selves is an engrossing watch, by turns disturbing, surprising and hilarious. And Fowler has just been nominated for the Turner Prize for the movie, so good luck to him.
The picture top is of Karla Black’s installation at GOMA. It’s been likened to a giant tiramisu. I came out saying I liked it, but I’m wondering if that was by reputation, as I can’t think of a lot to say about it now. I think I got more from talking to one of the attendants who was saying he didn’t expect the 17 tons of sawdust to hold it’s shape for the duration and in any case, the particles were starting to irritate his throat. I’ve seen her work with cellophane done in a more considered and effective way than this, but maybe it’s a consequence of scale, I don’t know.
Below is a detail from Paul Thek at The Modern Institute. I didn’t know of him, but for those that do I imagine this is a revealing insight into his emotions and thought processes. Favourite notebook extract: the pen-drawn picture of an erect cock with Jesus’s face on the end of it.
Is There Anything To Do Here, Is There Anything To See at CCA passed me by completely. It was one of those experiences of walking through a gallery without stopping or wanting to stop. It’s a moody affair in general, looking at contemporary art, sometimes things that seem worse than shite can get you thinking on another day, so I may go back for a second look.
Still to see Wolfgang Tillmans, Jeremy Deller’s inflatable Stonehenge at Glasgow Green and others.
Maps and Atlases @ Sleazy’s
Skipping all of the support acts, I managed to get a sofa-standing perch for M&A. Math-rock with songs, grab-bags of technique and a singer with a bitching hair/beard combo (and a guitar style owing a debt to Eddie Van Halen), they have tunes and likeability. Check out “Winter” or “Solid Ground” for an easy introduction.
Lastly, Avengers Assemble. Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Tony Stark back on the screen, Scarlett Johannson with a great turn as Black Widow, big set pieces, tension, Thor. Guardian said the end battle was drawn out. I say it wasn’t long enough.