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)


1. Neil O'Docherty18 Nov 2009, 12:09am Report

I'm part of this community and I do think people looking from the outside over emphasise the hostility to a great degree.

Sure there are some very angry people on both sides but for the most part there is, I would argue, nothing as strong as hate. I'm very much a loyalist but my parents are "mixed" and that has never caused bother for me.

As an aside the Black Skull are an absolutly great band, the best in Scotland by a considerable stretch. This is possibly because they are very much a "melody" band as oppose to the more common "blood and thunder". Anyone who happens to be in Glasgow for the big parade would do well to take a look at the very front of the column where the Black Skull will always be, even if you are not otherwise interested in the procession.

Can't speak for the Parkhead Republican band i'm afraid as I have never heard them.


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