Roderick Buchanan: Histrionics (4 stars)

Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, until Sun 28 Oct


The new work by Glasgow-based artist Roderick Buchanan on show at GoMA forces the viewer to face the anti-Christian hatred that some Catholics and Protestants still revel in in Scotland. His work is a response to the sectarian divide that rips right through (usually the poorest) streets of Glasgow, streets where Loyalist and Republican bands march and sway, calling their supporters to the barricades. The relationship between music and war and sport and war is brought to a head by Buchanan, where we are reminded of the links with warfare of both ‘cultural activities’ - music to rouse the troops and intimidate the enemy, and sport (in this case football) acting as a symbolic war between opposing tribes: Celtic and Rangers, Catholics and Protestants.

We enter the gallery and are met with portraits of these ‘heroes’, smiling and holding their team colours, their uniforms up to the camera. The exhilarating and intimidating sound of the pipe band somehow manages to pull you into the space. Two films showing the Black Skull Corps of Fife and Drum and the Parkhead Republican Flute Band (pictured) are shown next to each other, boys and men with probably more in common than not, split down the middle with hate. You forget how real this intolerance is. A gallery guard whistles along to the Black Skulls and stomps away, fuming, when the Parkhead boys begin their musical response.

(Alexander Kennedy)


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