Interview: Max Slaven on International Artist Initiated project at 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games

Max Slaven of David Dale Gallery discusses collaborative art project 'International Artist Initiated'

credit: Phanos Kyriacou, 'George'

Six artist-led organisations from Commonwealth territories present a series of exhibitions and public art in Glasgow's east end

‘International Artist Initiated’ (IAI) is a collaborative art project organised by David Dale Gallery in Glasgow with contributions from six other artist-led organisations from Commonwealth territories. Together they will transform the east end of Glasgow into a vibrant hub of exhibitions, performances and public art during the Commonwealth Games.

While ambitious in its scale – both in the amount of participants and the distances they have worked across, IAI chimes comfortably with the David Dale Gallery’s international outlook. In the past year the space has hosted Swiss artist Claudia Comte’s first UK solo show and established an off-site residency programme with Artistes en Residence in Clermont Ferrand.

‘We’ve increasingly become interested in the diversity and multiplicity of artist run activity internationally,’ explains Max Slaven, one of the gallery’s directors. ‘The idea [for IAI] was to bring together a diverse group of people working in similar fields and see what the possibilities for discourse and collaboration were. The opportunity of the Commonwealth Games seemed an ideal situation to attempt this.’

Artist-led initiatives in Barbados, Canada, Cyprus, India, Nigeria and New Zealand are all scheduled to exhibit work as part of the programme. ‘We tried to select groups who were international in their focus, outstanding within their geographical field, and tried to ensure that there was a diversity in practices and approaches across the groups,’ says Slaven.

The initial research stage posed the greatest difficulties for the committee: ‘We had the problem of finding a point from which to start and then primarily relying on the web presence of organisations, which varies widely,’ Slaven explains. However, beyond this point Slaven feels the organisation of the work actually benefited from the huge distances the groups worked across: ‘there has been a certain separation between us and the artists – though I think this has been important in allowing each organisation to maintain its curatorial voice.’

The IAI programme is as diverse as you would expect from a project that encompasses so many different people, places and cultures. There will be a multi-channel film installation by Video Art Network Lagos, daily performances by RM, an artist-run space from Auckland, New Zealand and public art paintings and posters by Barbados based Fresh Milk Art. Canadian arts publication Fillip will host a debate focused around current and past institutional practices, while Cyprus Dossier are scheduled to present a multidisciplinary group show exploring Cypriot identity. Clark House Initiative will bring an exploration of radical protest languages to Glasgow’s east end, taking shape through texts, sculpture and printmaking.

Glasgow’s art scene is synonymous with successful artist-led activity, but for Slaven this project stresses that such activity can (and does) flourish anywhere: ‘I think in every cultural context there are the individuals with the intention and self-determination to create situations for art to exist and be seen…Certain conditions aid this and make it more prevalent, though it does really exist everywhere in some capacity.’

International Artist Initiated, David Dale Gallery and various locations across Glasgow’s east end, Sat 19 Jul–Sun 3 Aug.

International Artist Initiated

David Dale's programme of exhibitions and events that bring together artist-initiated projects from around the Commonwealth, including Fresh Milk (Barbados), Fillip (Canada), Cyprus Dossier (Cyprus), Clark House Initiative (India), RM (New Zealand) and Video Art Network Lagos (Nigeria).

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