Glasgow International launches digital programme amidst COVID-19 lockdown

Glasgow International launches digital programme amidst COVID-19 lockdown

Alberta Whittle, business as usual: hostile environment (2020) / Courtesy of the artist

The contemporary art biennale will feature new online commissions by Alberta Whittle, Jenkin van Zyl, Yuko Mohri and Liv Fontaine

Glasgow International has revealed details of a new digital programme, which will take place in lieu of their physical festival this year, available via their website from 23 April to 10 May. Though the COVID-19 outbreak necessitated the postponement of the world-renowned contemporary art biennale, festival organisers will now bring work from the cutting-edge of the art world straight to our homes, featuring newly-commissioned work by Jenkin van Zyl, Yuko Mohri, Alberta Whittle and Liv Fontaine, as well as pieces by Georgina Starr, Urara Tsuchiya and Sarah Forrest, which were originally meant to feature at the 2020 festival.

Most of the new work featured in the digital programme were made under lockdown conditions, and many directly speak to our current situation. Whittle's work, business as usual: hostile environment, is a work-in-progress piece originally commissioned by EventScotland in support of Scotland's Year of Coasts and Waters. The work – which explores intersections between political and ecological climates, focussing on the role of waterways in human migration throughout history, both voluntary and involuntary – has been adapted to explore issues around the Windrush scandal, as well as the immigrant healthcare workers who are currently working at the frontline of the pandemic.

Japanese artist Yuko Mohri will be expressing the surreal lockdown conditions many are experiencing around the world in a new video work, which splices scenes from films which are devoid of people, with moments of domestic claustrophobia taken from Yasujirō Ozu's 1953 film Tokyo Story. Liv Fontaine, whose body of work explores the political dimension inherent within sex and relationships, will also be presenting a new video work created under lockdown in Glasgow, while Jenkin van Zyl will be exhibiting panoramic video work shot in Iceland before the UK announced its lockdown in March.

Glasgow International launches digital programme amidst COVID-19 lockdown

Still from 'Give us a meow', 2019, HD video by Ben Toms & Urara Tsuchiya, 9 mins 3 seconds

The digital programme will also feature work made pre-pandemic which was to exhibit at the 2020 Glasgow International, including Georgina Starr's recording Yesterday (1991). Created while alone in the corridors of the Slade School of Art, Yesterday's themes of melancholia and nostalgic longing for the past find new meaning in our strange present. Starr's prescient film work Quarantaine, which was created before the outbreak, explores notions around enforced isolation, and will be exhibited at Glasgow International 2021. Other works to be shown include Glasgow artist Urara Tsuchiya's Give Us a Meow (2019), which depicts the artist dancing in self-made costumes, and a single-channel film by Sarah Forrest, taken from her larger installation The Unreliable Narrator (2019), dissecting our complex relationship with false narratives through a pair of magician's hands.

The festival's digital programme will also feature an audio introduction delivered by the festival's director, Richard Parry, as well as a panel discussion about how the 2020 festival's theme of 'attention' has gained resonance in light of the pandemic, featuring Parry, curator Stefanie Hessler and writers Brian Dillon and Orit Gat. A physical edition of Glasgow International will be re-staged in 2021, with more details to be announced in due course.

Glasgow International's digital programme will be available at from Fri 23 Apr–Sun 10 May.

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