Attention! Glasgow International is back

Attention! Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art is back

Martine Syms, Lesson LXXV, 2017 / credit: Jason Wyche, courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY

The festival of visual art returns for its ninth instalment, with 54 exhibitions and 82 events showcasing the work of over 160 artists

The Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art – best known to fans simply as 'GI' – is back, and in response to these times of constant distraction, the theme for this festival is 'Attention'.

Well, to be a little more precise than that: attention, GI says, is 'less a theme and more a method of looking, thinking and approaching the world and the work of artists – with effort, care, sustained looking and criticality.' It's a timely shift from the world's tendency to encourage us to flit from one thing to another and never really take anything in.

One of the artists whose work tackled distraction head-on was the late American multimedia artist Gretchen Bender (1951-2004), whose 1987 work Total Recall is presented here: a monumental array of 24 TV monitors and three projection screens, it's a compelling and presentation of moving images from Hollywood movies and TV commercials which predicted our modern multi-screen obsession by several decades.

Glasgow-based artist and curator Alberta Whittle's performance and film work are well know to Scottish audiences, and her new film business as usual: hostile environment looks at how political and ecological climates shape each other. It results from a period of collaboration between the artist, discussion with women from Maryhill Integration Network's Joyous Choir and groups from Carnival Arts.

Attention! Glasgow International is back

Georgina Starr, Androgynous Egg, 2017. Performance / © Georgina Starr & Frieze Projects. Photo credit: Lewis Roland

Georgina Starr has a new work, Quarantaine, the title of which plays on the French word for 'forty' and also the word 'quarantine': it follows the story of two new recruits joining an esoteric sisterhood. The new work from Turner Prize-winning Duncan Campbell is a giant electromagnetic mechanical display like a message board at a railway station or airport, but presenting highly pixelated moving images.

Young American artist Martine Syms presents S1: E4, an episode in her ongoing SHE MAD project, which uses sitcom and film techniques and a long look at cinema history to explore 'the sign of blackness in the public imagination'. SHE MAD is a 'conceptual situation comedy' about a character named Martine, an 'overachieving, stoner graphic designer who lives in Hollywood and wishes she were an important artist'.

France-Lise McGurn's installation Aloud draws on the hours the artist spent in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, drawing, first as a child and later as a mature artist. McGurn's paintings on Perspex panels, inspired by the work of painter Alfred Joseph Moore, depict archetypal women and men, often undressed, reclining in agony and ecstasy.

Glasgow Women's Library will host a new work by artist and media researcher Ingrid Pollard, developed in response to its Lesbian Archive and Information Centre, the largest of its kind in the UK.

The opening night, 23 April, contains performances from international artists such as Paul Maheke, Lina Lapelytė and Nina Beier. Another highlight is on 20 March, when eminent art historian T.J. Clark will give a talk on the theme of attention and attentiveness.

And there are numerous other exhibitions, as well as public performances and film screenings by artists and collectives. For the full programme, check out the Glasgow International website.

Glasgow International, various venues, Glasgow, Fri 24 April–Sun 10 May 2020.

Glasgow International

Two-yearly festival of contemporary art commissioned from artists around the globe and including exhibitions in traditional gallery spaces, plus unique site-specific installations and live performance art. The 2020 festival has been postponed to 2021, however a digital programme is available online.

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