Sonia Boyce, Pavel Büchler and Susan Hiller: Speaking in Tongues
- Neil Cooper
- 18 February 2014
Three artists demonstrate how memory, collective or otherwise, can be moulded, shaped and customised to order
It's the sound of clacking typewriter keys that strikes you first, stepping into this show, which, in different ways, reflects on the colour of memory. In the case of all three artists, who have a long history with the CCA building, it reveals how that memory, collective or otherwise, can be moulded, shaped and customised to order. This is seen through preservation, wilful negation or, in Sonia Boyce's case, via a gloriously messy reclaiming of half-hidden pop-cultural detritus.
The typing noises come from Pavel Büchler's 'I am going to use this projector', in which a cassette recorder hung on the wall plays a recording of someone typing out a transcription of the text that hangs next to it. Susan Hiller too shows how free-association can be harnessed, in 'Measure by Measure Section II', which displays the ashes of paintings burned by the artist in a series of jars and containers. As with the framed diary pages of Büchler's 'Idle Thoughts', in which the same pages are written over again and again, Hiller's piece tantalises the viewer about what's being hidden even as it creates something afresh.
It is Boyce's piece 'The Devotional Collection', however, that remains the most immediate and affectingly joyous example of how scraps of the past captured in a record or on a magazine cover can shape an entire culture. Against one wall, rows of artefacts from black women in music are lined up, moving from Amazulu to Winifred Atwell, Betty Boo to Neneh Cherry, Myleene Klass to Cleo Laine, Sade to the Saturdays and beyond. These are women who found their voices, and in turn gave voice to others in a way that's gloriously refreshed every time the needle hits the groove.
CCA, Glasgow, until Sun 23 Mar.