The Shock of Victory
- Stewart Smith
- 3 September 2015
Work from international artists looking at political struggle and imagining victory
Featuring artists from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Palestine and Greece, The Shock of Victory uses the first anniversary of the independence referendum to create a dialogue about political change. Consisting of an exhibition, a symposium and a digital publication, the programme takes its title from an essay by anarchist thinker David Graeber, who argues that protesters often have difficulty in recognising their moments of success. By looking beyond activist tactics, the curators try to imagine what ‘victory’ would mean through artistic practices.
Oraib Toukan documents the ongoing transformations in Palestinian political reality through photographs of its architecture, while Mairéad McClean’s No More reflects on her father’s imprisonment under the internment policy in 1970s Northern Ireland. Glasgow duo The Shadow of the Hand explore the difficulties of responding to crises, while Antonis Pittas presents works which subvert the language and imagery of mainstream politics.
Scotland’s post-referendum reality is mapped in Edinburgh-based poet and artist Alec Finlay’s A Better Tale to Tell, a found poem drawn from public responses to the Smith Commission on further devolution.
‘Smith was a kind of mass observation project for our era – 12,000 plus letters, all forgotten about and ignored, and yet they are, in many ways, the true history,’ says Finlay. ‘What I wanted to preserve, and show respect for, was the registers of all those written voices … all of these people seeking to express themselves, to a “Lord”, creating phrases that stand outside the discourse of professional politicians and the media. So there’s humour and sadness, hesitancy, ambition, and desire.
‘In their letters “The People” went further than Smith, because people are now ahead of the political class and the parties. I don’t think it matters that their views are still divided; the language itself shows a new politics is now possible, and required.’
CCA Glasgow, until Sat 1 Nov.