- Rachael Cloughton
- 20 March 2017
What responsibility do artists have to tell the truth?
Polygraphs is centred around Hito Steyerl's split screen film Abstract, which was acquired by Glasgow Life last year. In this work, we follow Steyerl's search for her friend, Andrea Wolf, and discover the tragic and brutal circumstances of her death while fighting for the PKK in Eastern Turkey.
The circumstances of Wolf's death, its role as material for Steyerl's film and importance of telling her story form the basis for the show – what responsibility do artists have to engage their audience with difficult social and political issues? How far can artists use their privileged position to challenge the dominant narratives that exist? And by extension, through acquiring this work, what role do museums also play and how potent are they as instigators of change?
Alongside Abstract are other works from the Glasgow Life collection dealing with these issues, they range form Kennardphillipps' print Know Your Enemy, where a victim of torture in the Iraq War is collaged onto at the steps of 10 Downing Street, to Muirhead Bone's Tanks, a terrifying, almost sci-fi like rendering of a tank, created during WW1 as part of Bone's duties as the first official War Artist.
Early in the show are documents from Anthony Schrag's residency project at GoMA. Schrag held discussions about Glasgow's notorious sectarianism in nearby Toryglen, deliberately removing the discussions from the privileged site of the gallery. The strongest aspect of Polygraphs is the willingness of the show to expose the museum up to the same scrutiny as the works itself.
GoMA, until Sun 17 Sep.