Visual arts festival Glasgow International announces its attention-grabbing line-up
- Emma Simmonds
- 30 April 2021
The work of over 100 artists will be showcased across the city and online this June
As the UK opens up, one of its largest and most loved visual arts festivals, Glasgow International, has just given us some absolutely essential dates for our diary as they announced details of their ninth edition (postponed from April 2020), which is due to take place across the city from Friday 11 to Sunday 27 June.
Designed to showcase Glasgow as a centre for the production and display of innovative contemporary art, the theme of this year's festival is 'attention'. And with an eye-catching line-up comprising over 70 exhibitions and events, with performances and talks at over 30 spaces across the city and online, it has certainly grabbed ours. As we step outside our homes and neighbourhoods, it aims to transport us beyond the everyday, opening up a new space for looking, thinking and spending time with the work of artists to better illuminate their intentions.
The festival is divided into a commissioned programme of larger-scale works and exhibitions in collaboration with partners and venues, and Across the City, a wider programme of exhibitions and projects, selected from proposals by artists, curators and producers living and working in Glasgow, and celebrating the diversity, depth and vibrancy of Glasgow's visual arts community. A digital programme will also be available via glasgowinternational.org.
Amongst the highlights from the commissioned programme are Martine Syms' S1:E4, a new episode in her project SHE MAD, which sees the artist incorporate elements of the sitcom format and past TV shows to explore 'the sign of blackness in the public imagination'. It'll be available to view as a video installation in Tramway's largest gallery, while an immersive sculptural installation by Jenkin van Zyl in Tramway's T4 Theatre invites viewers into a scenario invoking claustrophobia, sexual ecstasy, hysteria and 'folk horror'. Also at Tramway will be a major new film commission by Georgina Starr, Quarantaine, continuing her preoccupation with the otherworldly and the occult.
Situated in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, artist France-Lise McGurn has produced a sculptural installation responding to the painting Reading Aloud by Albert Moore. Kelvingrove is also the setting for one of the most in-depth presentations to date of work by the late Scottish painter Carol Rhodes, focusing on her rarely exhibited drawings and key paintings. While Glasgow Royal Concert Hall boasts Total Recall (1987), a monumental multi-channel video installation by pioneering American artist Gretchen Bender comprising 24 stacked TV monitors and three projection screens presenting 18-minutes of moving images.
Turner Prize-winner Duncan Campbell presents his new work at the Barrowland Ballroom. Inspired by the novels of Samuel Beckett and several years in the planning, it combines film, audio and sculpture and sees a giant electromagnetic mechanical display create highly pixelated images alongside a recorded audio monologue. Works by Brazil's Ana Mazzei, the Glasgow-based Sarah Forrest, Canadian artist Nep Sidhu and the Tokyo-based Yuko Mohri are also featured in the commissioned programme.
As part of the canal programme, in celebration of Scotland's Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21, Alberta Whittle has produced a new film and series of audio works entitled business as usual: hostile environment that explores the colonial history of the Forth & Clyde canal and the role of waterways in the voluntary and involuntary movement of people.
Included in the Across the City programme are various solo exhibitions. New work from Ingrid Pollard will be showcased at Glasgow Women's Library, who challenges the marginalisation and erasure of LGBTQ+ history and culture. Sam Durant's Iconoclasm will be displayed across multiple outdoor sites in the city; it's a series of graphite drawings depicting acts of destruction enacted upon public statues and monuments. The work of the late Donald Rodney, a leading member of the BLK Art Group, will be exhibited in the artist-run Celine gallery. And Andrew Sim will explore queer love, relationships and community-building through figurative and landscape pastel drawings.
Group exhibition You're Never Done explores the invisible narratives of labour within our cities, while Edinburgh-based Sekai Machache and Glasgow-based Thulani Rachia come together in two exhibitions The Divine Sky and Wathint' Abafazi, Wathint' Imbokodo which share an interest in quantum superposition. Machache also collaborates with Awuor Onyango on Body of Land, an intimate exploration of African diasporic femininities in Scotland and Kenya. The Outside is Inside Everything We Make is a group exhibition conceived by Laura Aldridge who explores collaborative ways of working.
Other group exhibitions include Don't Let The Bastards Grind You Down, an exhibition of exhibitionists, starring Liv Fontaine, Paul Kindersley and Huhtamaki Wab, while Fabric of Society is a self-organising collective of four UK-based artists of colour – Rabiya Choudhry, Raisa Kabir, Jasleen Kaur and Rae-Yen Song – whose exhibition draws on the associations that fabric has with constructions of womanhood and identity. Songs for Work brings together moving image, sound, performance, poetry and installation by three Glasgow-based artists, Aideen Doran, Beth Dynowski and Susannah Stark.
Work by Jacqueline Donachie (questioning issues of access for all), Jimmy Robert (exploring Glasgow's role within colonialism), the Nigerian artist Ndidi Dike (inspired by his research into the colonial cloth trade), Eva Rothschild (who aims to reinvigorate conventional sculpture), Luke Fowler (who has documented the domestic archives of letters and notes created by his parents) and Graham Fagen (working across media to explore relationships between identity and cultural context) also feature.
The festival's digital programme features artists from the main programmes representing their in-person exhibitions, alongside work made specifically to be viewed online. Highlights include Annie Crabtree's dual screen, moving image work Tell me, how do I feel? which is grounded in the artist's experience of ill-health and hospitalisation, and Anne-Marie Copestake's film in which artists from across the festival's programmes converse.
Titled Shifting Attention, the GI events programme aims to open up dialogues and share ideas that might help shape new forms of togetherness and connectivity through a series of conversations and workshops, panel discussions and performances. More information on these events will be announced imminently, though a hybrid programme of live and digital events, curated by the Roberts Institute of Art, has already been confirmed (featuring performance work by Paul Maheke, Nina Beier and Lina Lapelytė), while not-for-profit gallery Civic Room will present Hubris, a programme of performances exploring the human and nonhuman, featuring new work from Christian Noelle Charles, Liv Fontaine, William Joys and Wassili Widmer.
Richard Parry, Director of Glasgow International, has said, 'Many of the exhibitions are three years in the making now. We have sought to present the festival originally planned for a year ago as faithfully as possible, but also allowing space for re-appraisal. Although we will work hard to ensure Covid-safe physical exhibitions, we also appreciate that many will not be able to, or feel comfortable attending in person and so we have put together a substantial digital programme involving artists from across the programme. We hope that you will join us here, in Glasgow, or from around the world.'
For more information, to browse the full line-up as it stands, and for updates and additions visit glasgowinternational.org