Browse previous issues of MAP below.
MAP #24 includes profiles on Mladen Stilinovic by Mary Rinebold, Karla Black by Briony Fer, a conversation with Sophie Macpherson and Clare Stephenson about their new collaborative performance work, and a text on art as a 'metavocation' by Sean Ashton.
The MAP commission is by Mary Simpson, and the artist text is by Lisa Oppenheim.
Aoife Rosenmeyer and John Calcutt profile emerging artists Iman Issa and Nicolas Party respectively, while Karen Archey reports on the strategy of timeliness in the contemporary work of Moyra Davey, Alan Michael, Cory Arcangel and Matthew Monahan.
The Cinenova Working Group outline their notion of moving image distribution and its attendent labour economies, while Laura Edbrook examines Smith/Stewart's collaborative intimacies.
Focus reviewsinclude Berlin Gallery Weekend by Steven Cairns and full page reviews of The Erratics, Hayley Tompkins, Nicolas Deshayes, Laure Prouvost, Young British Art, Still Life, Christopher Williams, Józef Robakowski, Theaster Gates. Akram Zaatari, How to Work and Simon Denny
Reviewed books discuss the notions of publishing artists and artist publishing: Gwen Allen's Artists' Magazines, and collaborative artist's book Activity.
The back page is written and configured by Grace Schwindt.
MAP #24 includes profiles on Alasdair Gray by Neil Mulholland, BS Johnson by Isla Leaver-Yap, Stuart Gurden by John Calcutt, Clément Rodzielski by Joanna Fiduccia, while Giles Bailey and Marie de Brugerolle discuss Guy de Cointet, Tom Burr talks to Steven Cairns, and Sean Ashton writes about Embedded Art. The MAP commission is by Shahryar Nashat, and the artist text is by Matt Keegan.
Gemma Sharpe and Rebecca Geldard profile emerging artists Audrey Reynolds and Patrizio Di Massimo respectively, and Karen Archey examines the role of internet art in the 21st century. Dominic Patterson discusses Christine Borland’s recent residency and exhibition at Glasgow Sculpture Studios, and new organisation The Serving Library outline their mission.
Focus reviewsincludethe 29th São Paulo Biennial by Tobi Maier and Manifesta 8 by Sarah Lowndes, as well as full page reviews of Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Alex Pollard, Exhibition Exhibition, Yves Netzhammer, Paul Thek, Adrian Piper, Conceptual Art in Canada1965–1980, British Art Show 7, Elizabeth McAlpine, and Keith Farquhar.
In Print features discussions of Show & Tell: A Chronicle of Group Material, and Katinka Bock – Works. Oeuvres. Werke, and Events include the Serpentine Map Marathon and recent Duvet Brothers performance.
MAP #23 includes features on Andrea Büttner by Richard Birkett, Performance, Land Art and Photography by Francesco Gagliardi, Simon Dybbroe Møller by Dorothee Brill, Kelly Nipper by Joanna Fiduccia, The Devil Makes Work by Fiona Jardine and interviews with Emily Wardill by Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Jonathan Horowitz by Steven Cairns.
Emerging artists Cara Tolmie and Katarina Zdjelar are profiled by Will Holder and Aoife Rosenmeyer, and we hear from Yvonne Rainer on her upcoming projects. Anita Di Bianco talks to Discoteca Flaming Star and we get the low down from the US and UK on arts funding by Jennifer Thatcher and Paddy Johnson.
We have Focus reviews of the Edinburgh Art Festival by Dominic Paterson and 6th Berlin Biennale by Steven Cairns and Joanna Fiduccia and full page reviews of Knut Åsdam, Jorge Santos, Gert and Uwe Tobias, Lila de Magalhaes / Michael White, The Potosí Principle, David Hominal, Francis Alÿs, Jack Pierson, The Long Dark, Dynasty.
We look at David Toop's Sinister Resonance and Susanne Kriemann's Ashes and Broken Brickwork of a Logical Theory in our In Print reviews, and cover recent performances by Ian White and Sharon Hayes.
The authority of the voice and its displacement is the leitmotif of Map 22. We ask what kind of voice can one achieve in collaboration and question who can be held accountable for its collective utterances. From the trio of avant-garde filmakers Kenneth Macpherson , Bryther and HD, who made up the reactionary POOL group, to the three young contemporary painters Fiona Mackay, Manuela Gernedel and Morag Keil, the unified voice of collaboration is shown to produce bursts of unlikely creativity that would be impossible alone.
From the standpoint of the individual practice too, MAP examines the synthetic aspects of the artist's voices. In the first presentation of her New York project, From the Centre of the Elephant, artist Jesse Jones flirts with the possession and inhabits a series of ghostly voices in MAP, where she presents a gothic piece of fiction intertwined with haunting images.
Pablo Helguera attempts to answer a series of unanswerable questions in his slippery interview with Karen Archey, speaking from his multiple positions as a critic, curator and artist. Jimmie Durham's special new commission for MAP, made on residency in Glasgow, amalgamtes voices from the past and rearranges their symbolic order.
In our review focus, the launch of Glasgow International also provides a proliferation of voices from MAP's team of writers who attempt to bring in the perspective from scattered points across the city. Throughout the issue, then, MAP finds itself in rich, polyvocal territory.
MAP's two–year residency at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundess has come to an end and we'd like to extend our sincere thanks to the exhibitions and fine art departments for being such generous hosts.
True to our nomadic practice we're now moving on. From 20 Februar we can be contacted at our new address at Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Arts, where we look forward to a two–year stay in a city that has become known for its dynamic and varied art scene, one which continues to influence art production both locally and beyond. Working from these bases in Scotland, as well as locations abroad and online, we build relationships directly with the communities the magazine reflects and informs.
MAP meanwhile continues to seek alternative wasys to engage with critical writing and publishing. Collective concerns and peripatetic practice are both eveident in this issue. Berlin–based curatorial duo Silberkuppe have, within a year, developed an exciting exhibition model which relies heavily on collective gathering and thinking and can move around the world freely. Ben Rivers has been visiting islands areound the world on a quest for knowledge. Mary Redmond reveals a glimpse of her research from abroad and Glasgow–based artists Katy Dove and Victoria Morton, who work independantly in a studio context, are also becoming more interested in collaboratng with others, most particulary was members of the band, Muscles of Joy.
Storytelling is shaped by wide ranging elements: slips of register, authority, tense, tropes. Its profound ability to contextualise experience (past and present) makes it highly attractive to political and cultural hijacking. Peter Gidal’s seminal essay ‘Anti-Narrative’, 1978, underscores this point and also makes the beautiful contradiction of bookending his titular polemic via a series of anecdotes. Few, it seems, can escape such tendencies towards narrative.
MAP 20 forms its own crooked path through a number of narratives: a first-hand confessional by artist Alastair MacKinven reflects upon the daily practice of painting; Henry Coombes explores surrealised histories, exposing his shift towards a cinematic future; João Maria Gusãmo and Pedro Paiva orchestrate finely wrought mythologies on film; while the MAP Commission by Ginataras Didziapetris takes a more direct approach by exploring oral culture’s relationship to ethnography. The creation of a narrative structure is not perhaps solely compelling, but the way in which the aesthetic enterprise of narrative has become atomized, undermined and reinterpreted by numerous artist practices in recent years does, nonetheless, warrant some timely attention. The resurfacing of narratives within performance appears to have particular resonance in the work of Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Spartacus Chetwynd and Mark Leckey. Subtly, the constant unfolding of narrative presents new paths to navigate the distance between the physical archive and user-generated content.
With this summer's big art events behind us, MAP looks forward to the final months of 2009 with a collection of in-depth features and reviews. This issue’s commissioned artist, Clunie Reid, creates an audaciously lyrical dialogue between found and collaged images over eight pages. Meanwhile, our artist’s contribution from Ellen Cantor gives us a vivacious insight into her ongoing film project in an extensive monologue text.
Elsewhere, Chris Sharp analyses the history of destruction, putting into context the tropes of a number of contemporaries. Editor-at-large Isla Leaver-Yap examines the legacy of Eva Hesse and her influences on a selection of young female artists, and Michelle Cotton unpacks complex historical narratives colliding in Stephen Sutcliffe’s video work.
History is what matters to John Calcutt in his investigation of Transmission’s archive as the ubiquitous gallery approaches its 25th anniversary. Bringing things up to date and furthering MAP’s commitment to the most exciting developments in contemporary art, Joanna Fiduccia highlights the work of neo-conceptualist Etienne Chambaud in a monograph that positions his practice within a wider frame of reference, art duo Tatham & O’Sullivan reveal another side to their practice
in an interview with Mona Casey and Adam Szymczyk reports from the Athens Biennial in an analytical focus report. Finally, Jane and Louise Wilson, showing at Talbot Rice Gallery as part of this year's Edinburgh Art Festival, give MAP an enigmatic back page.
A limited edition cover for MAP Issue 18, celebrates both the 53rd Venice Biennale and the latest MAP commission: Martin Boyce, the artist selected to exhibit at the Scottish pavilion this year, has created 11 pages around his new work, which incorporates the prose of novelist Haruki Murakami. To obtain a free copy of this special edition as part of a sensational subscription offer (a one year MAP subscription for only £12), firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
The regular issue, with its own, unique cover, has been designed to recognise MAP's contining focus on emerging artists: this issue includes writing on the work of Glasgow-based Stina Wirfelt, New York-based Peter Simensky and London-based Leigh Ledare. Luke Fowler, his first major solo show in the UK opening at the Serpentine this month, is among other artists featured, while Phil Collins, his first major solo in Scotland showing at Tramway through May, presents a MAP back page using an image originally produced to advertise the filming session for the 'world won't listen' in Bogata, Columbia, 2004.
This summer, MAP welcomes a new roster of editorial advisors, while offering a big thank you to outgoing members for their much-appreciated support during their tenure.
Things have changed, for now. But how do we make sense of it all? An artistic continental drift seems to be shapeshifting into nebulous and uncertain territory.
Perhaps it is reassuring to know that artists are used to living with uncertainty, and that trying to ‘make sense’ of the here and now is integral to creative practice and development.
These times beg a serious reassessment of where the business of art, as well as the function and viability of the artist, is heading. Individual practice is necessarily entangled in the economy of culture, and once familiar systems of dissemination and exchange, are being rearranged.
The new order may not yet be apparent but its configurations now seem infinite. For some artists the reinvention of ‘the new’ seems more possible than ever.
An interest in the past, meanwhile, is a staple of art practice that is most effective in its abstract form. The cut-and-paste of social, philosophical, theological and aesthetic ideas signal new territories that question and test out options which may just give us some surprising answers.
These are difficult times, but times have always been difficult, haven’t they? The current seismic shifts in the financial markets don’t simply trickle down to artists and audiences—they change the entire landscape on which cultural and social structures can also be built.
Change is good, isn’t it? The axiom of the art world as recession-proof is crumbling in the face of such change. Language is changing too. Those comfortable millennial terms of criticality—neoliberalism’, ‘post-Fordism’, ‘late capitalism’ to name a few—suddenly sound like markers of a period that has just recently become the past.
But what of terms like ‘artist’ and ‘critic’? How and where are they repositioned upon a fluctuating site of economic bafflement? What is possible to produce now that was not before? It appears the contemporary critic’s role has, rather limply, ended up at odds with its own self-reflexive criticality. The artist meanwhile has often assumed or consumed the latter’s role within a widening field of practice. Information and history—primary materials for both the artist and critic—have apparently been giving the ‘whole picture’. Now both artist and critic can test such a claim and reconfigure the present picture.
We have histories (both familiar and foreign, fresh and stale) at our fingertips, and opportunities to revise, to reassess and to learn from them. What is important is that we question relevantly, precisely, and contingently. Our history now writes itself as it happens—no more waiting, just urgency and instant feedback response. This isn’t simply the 21st century marching on from the 20th. Thankfully, this is something the best artists seem to be aware of.
The change in modes of production is imminent. Change is good.
The intersection of art and writing, with all its antagonisms, collaborations, and crossovers, shows a marked co-dependence. While the autonomy of the
art object has shown to be lacking in some instances, a far more complex relationship with language and writing has emerged in recent contemporary art practice. The emergence of a reflexive curatorial discourse seems in part the artists’ response to the increasing layers of communication possible through technology.
Critic and historian TJ Clarke wrote with caution and cynicism that our image-culture was replacing an experience of the world mediated by words. Yet Clarke’s gloomy prediction has so far been unwarrented—it appears that the word/image relationship is inextricable, dialectical, dogmatic and fecund.
Conversation, as a strategy employed in its most direct sense by prolific writers like Hans Ulrich Obrist, and by editors of out-of-the-mainstream journal/magazines such as The Happy Hypocrite’s Maria Fusco and Dot Dot Dot’s Stuart Bailey, has been led by inquisitiveness and a desire for experimentation and engagement in all forms of art writing.
This issue, MAP celebrates these complexities. Hans Ulrich Obrist’s interview with Jordan Wolfson retains the creative spontenaity of their recent conversation in New York. Dot Dot Dot’s MAP Commission, conversely, condenses a collection of ideas into a dense layering of ideas. The resulting essay in pictures and in words, builds a map of connecting thoughts and images, beautifully constructed on both aesthetic and study-friendly lines.
In this issue’s Report, Maria Fusco playfully introduces the notion that art writing has somehow been ‘born again’ into a new generation of young artists and art writers with some radical ideas on its purpose.
And, for the first time, MAP asks its readers to join its ongoing conversation by posing a set of questions on feminism. Replies will be posted on the MAP website.
Since MAP launched three years ago, it seems that cumbersome and occasionally absurd portmanteaus have become the only way to characterise the unforeseen intermixing of art, exhibition and market. Terms like ‘biennialisation’ and ‘glocal’ have been born, while others such as ‘national’ and even ‘international’ seem to be on the wane. ‘Salon’ and ‘public’ are on the rise once more, while the creativity of naming further trends never seems far from the tomorrow’s archive. And despite recurring accusations that an elite of artworld types hop from one country’s biennial to the next, audience figures have since shown that the biggest audience for international shows has been local. With predictions pointing towards the end of cheap overseas travel, the co-ordinates for Planet Art will be mapped anew.
The antagonism of inter/national remains foregrounded in the free market economy of contemporary art. And it was clear from the tone of the recent Glasgow international, which after six years has been positioning itself on the threshold of an international circuit, that Glasgow is enlarging its appetite for artists and audiences far beyond the city limits; there was a strong message that this would be as much to benefit the ‘local’ art and art visiting community as much as the exhibiting artists.
Reflecting upon this geographically stressed position of an indeterminate multitude of scenes, this Issue MAP interrogates the work of artists working against
the hum of this ‘internationallocal’. Emerging artists, Ben Jones and Ann Bowman are based the USA; Jones is an infiltrator of the comic book, Ann a plunderer of mainstream film. Isla Leaver-Yap discovers rich seams from a national past in new work by Polish artist Paulina Olowska. The enigmatic work of Henrik Olesen is examined by Bergamo curator Alessandro Rabottini, and Scott Myles comes under the scrutiny of Lilian Haberer and Regina Baruke. Both Olesen and Myles feature in MAP’s first commissioned publication, created as a link between Glasgow international and berlin biennial 5.
Map is on the move! Broadening its commitment to contemporary visual art at home and abroad, the magazine takes up a two year residency at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, while the editorial team, as the new publishers, have developed a programme of exciting projects, commissions and related MAP publications.
Issue 13 continues to develop Studio8’s vibrant new look for the magazine. Inside, we catch up with Adam Szymczyk and Elena Filipovic in the run up to the 5th Berlin Biennial (bb5) to discuss biennials today. Features on Craig Mulholland and Torsten Lauschmann examine these Glasgow-based artists’ practices in anticipation of major solo shows. Our regular commision series features exclusive work by Alasdair Gray in the magazine and online animation by Mulholland. In addition, Isla Leaver-Yap dissects the idea of monument and Victoria Miguel reportsfrom New York.
Throughout 2008 the magazine will expand, not only its page numbers, but also its remit.
Coming up in February, MAP’s Visible Cinema, curated for Glasgow Film Festival 2008, follows last year’s sell-out programme and features Turner prize winner Mark Wallinger, Rosa Barba and Duncan Campbell among other highly respected artists. Later on in April, a MAP publication and talk coincides with Glasgow International and bb5, bringing together new artist commissions. See our website for details.
Now independent, MAP would like to thank The List magazine for the significant part it has played in the development of this contemporary art title during its first three productive years under its direction.
In a dozen issues over three years, MAP has under taken a journey in contemporary art which has commissioned and encouraged new writers in Scotland, London, New York and Berlin, published interviews with established internationally renowned artists such as Gustav Metzger and Douglas Gordon, discussed work by new European artists such as Victor Man, and featured young emerging UK talents such as Ruth Ewan and Duncan Marquiss. MAP is also committed to commissioning artworks on both pages and website—Donald Urquhart and Chris Evans being the most recent. From our Scottish perspective, out of the centre and yet with an ambition to discover new identities, MAP’s independent voice is a visible one.
This issue, Richard Forster creates a MAP commission with a set of six remarkable new pencil drawings which pull together contradictory myths of pastoral and urban origin. As well as being sensationally detailed, the work is at once unsettling, beautiful and challenging. Forster has designed these pages to create a presence in the magazine which exhibits and explores the visual content, rather than explains it.
We also explore the work of young Glasgow sculptor Karla Black, painter and installation artist Enrico David, and photographer Oliver Godow, in perceptive articles written Barry Schwabsky, Isla Leaver-Yap and John Calcutt respectively.
Finally, we would like to thank Studio8 Design, for mapping out a brand new framework for the magazine as it moves into 2008.
Against the ever increasing tide of institutional global art gatherings, a quiet yet powerful spirit questions the identity of a whole landscape of manmade sculpture—the West Lothian bings—as they age from industrial site, to heritage area, to artwork, on a journey of transformation which is leading inevitably towards their reclamation by nature. Artist and writer, Craig Richardson, plots and revisits the late John Latham’s conceptual journey into these emotive landmarks, breathing life into this daring project.
This issue artists are also out on the High Street, in pavilions, gardens, galleries, biennials and festivals. Our roster of artists includes two Romanians—Victor Man and Monika Sosnowska, both of whom challenge notions of space and how art is expected to fit into it. Man’s extended painting installations are examined by Italian curator Alessandro Rabbotini, while Sosnowska’s giant works and tiny models are put together by Glasgow-based writer Moira Jeffrey. On the surface of it, Tony Swain has a more traditional approach, but Isla Leaver-Yap finds his painted collage works unique.
The Map Commission brings the lovingly cast characters of Donald Urquhart’s drawings to the page along with the story of his regard for them. While Andy Warhol’s large retrospective opens at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Urquhart’s work takes the notion of celebrity and graphic portraiture into his own hands, creating a nostalgic, decadent reference to times past in black and white.
Map has expanded. In Issue 10 we are delighted to include a special eight-page insert compiled by artist Chris Evans, based on an extension of his recent work Militant Bourgeois: An Existential Retreat.
During the life of this issue, this year’s mighty European art shows are all taking to the contemporary art world stage in June. To witness this unprecedented explosion of curatorial activity, artists and art professionals from around the world will congregate at the many openings, some aiming to make it ‘a grand tour’. To reflect this serendipitous season of major events—the 52nd Venice Biennale, the five-yearly documenta, the ten-yearly skulptur projeckte münster and annual Art Basel 38—Map profiles and interviews a group of artists, all of whom, despite being at different stages in their careers, are keenly active and engaged with contemporary issues today.
Sculptor Martin Boyce was in our sights early once his name was announced by Münster. Lucy Skaer, selected to make new work for Scotland’s pavilion in Venice, among a roster of fine young Scottish artists, all of whom are exhibiting internationally —Charles Avery, Henry Coombes, Louise Hopkins, Rosalind Nashashibi and Tony Swain—has a story to tell. Kate Davis, making a solo statement at Art Basel 38 with vibrant Glasgow gallery Sorcha Dallas, has had a solo show recently at Tate Modern. Into this mix, we included the powerful images of Aernout Mik, another Venice exhibitor.
That was the plan. Then Gustav Metzger came into the picture in conversation with curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. A highly revered conceptual artist, who began making ground-breaking, politically-connected work in the middle of last century, he continues his work today with no less energy and boldness.
MAP asked art writer Duncan McLaren, who has been contributing his popular ‘Journey’ series since the magazine’s launch in 2005, to help create a selection of special features. Using the theme of the Enlightenment as inspiration, the result is a fascinating combination of commissions, analysis, theory, reviews, rants, and, above all, imaginative engagement, which Duncan introduces here:
In the summer of 2006, for one of his Edinburgh Festival proposals,Peter Liversidge suggested to the Ingleby Gallery that he install, fromthe high wall of Edinburgh Castle to the Scott Monument, a deathslide. The idea was that a T-bar seat would be suspended from a length of steel wire, and that people would be able to sit on the basic seat and take a ride between the castle and the monument. This was one of about 100 proposals—some more practical than others—that Liversidge came up with. Today, I’ve climbed the 287 stone steps that take you from Princes Street Gardens to the top of the Scott Monument, pictured under this text, both to admire Liversidge’s site-specific-idea anew and to come up with something of my own.
I propose to install light slides from the Scott Monument to sites associated with the Scottish Enlightenment.
Again the idea is that T-bar seats will be suspended from lengths of steel-like wire, though in this case a green light bulb will be screwed into the base of the T. Readers of this issue of Map will be able to sit on the rudimentary seats and take rides from this giant tribute to Scotland’s most celebrated writer to sites of Enlightenment interest that have been recently investigated by contemporary artists. Amongst other destinations, wires will stretch to doggerfisher, where Graham Fagen has been exploring the myth of Robert Burns. To Newhailes House, where Tatham and O’Sullivan have been extending the myth oftheir own work in a preserved 18th century setting. And to Glasgow’s Lighthouse, where several artists have been collaborating with architects with a view to throwing light on the cultural geography and intellectual history of Edinburgh.
The golden era that began in the middle of the 18th century and lasted into the early 19th is supposed to be the one time in history that Scotland was at the vanguard of human thought and culture. Was it really so switched-on then? Is there any connection between those days and where we are now?
Every word of this issue concerns contemporary art, as ever, and every word can be related back to the Scottish Enlightenment, thoughsome by the merest gossamer thread. Let the contents page direct your progress. But remember, knees tight together while enjoying the ride.
The emphasis on international and market success is ever increasing in the contemporary art world. Isla Leaver-Yap’s report on Frieze (page 4–6) examines that trajectory and the benefits and pressures that global and commerical status bring not just to artists, but also their art.
Now nearly two years old, Map is set to publish an online directory of artists, curators and gallerists working in Scotland, many of whom are plugged into that international system. In this issue, we have drawn together a number who represent current activity and trends. It is not a definitive list. We have included not only established artists/curators but also those who are at an earlier stage in their careers. In bringing these people and organisations together in one place, we hope that our ‘snapshot’ choice provides a starting point for piecing together an art map for Scotland.
The new archive can be accessed on the Map website (www.mapmagazine.co.uk) and will be updated regularly to include current exhibitions/events in each entry—so if an artist is showing work in Paris or Glasgow, we’ll pass that information on. This list complements the already online comprehensive listings of exhibitions in Scotland, and those of importance and interest around the world. Scotland’s trade, industry and intellectual past has traditionally had an outward looking view of the world. Today, artists are increasingly encouraged in art schools and colleges to connect with the international market— outcome in the making for several decades.
In the 1960s Alexander Moffat and John Bellany looked towards Berlin for inspiration; in the 1970s Richard Demarco brought Eastern Europe and Beuys back home; in the 1980s Steven Campbell and the ‘Glasgow Pups’ pioneered trade with New York particularly; and in the 1990s Douglas Gordon and other Glasgow Art School graduates caught a slipstream to the rest of the world alongside the YBAs. As art fairs and biennials gain in number and importance, this new century’s first decade is all about the market and as art becomes more of a commodity, with values increasing in the West as new markets, such as China and India, rapidly establish themselves in competition. Is art then in danger of loosing its vision as it gains power as a commodity?
It remains to be seen whether the burgeoning international financialisation of contemporary art finds unequivocal welcome in Scotland’s culture.
On page 60 writer Barry Schwabsky says that every capital needs an airport, a football stadium and a contemporary art museum. You could add major international art fair or bienniale to that list of 21st century city essentials. In this issue alone we have reports from Bucharest Biennale, 4th Berlin Biennale and Art 37 Basel. But despite increasingly confident moves by Glasgow International, now held biennially in May, Scotland has yet to put a major international visual art event on the global circuit.
Does it matter? In many respects, not a bit. On his journey on page 24, Duncan McLaren suggests that because of a ‘lack of a significant commercial sector in Scotland, artists are not distracted from doing robust work—work that comes across as ambitious, relevant and attractive to the people who commission public art and curate shows in major spaces’. Scottish artists are taking heart at home with events like the Backgarden Biennale, page 8, enjoying grass-roots philosophy at its most literal—a wholly ecological, humourous approach. In the feature section of Map, Alex Kennedy talks to an Edinburgh group of artists who successfully work to their own blueprint, leading them to establish their own Embassy, a gallery with strong affiliations to Edinburgh College of Art, yet with a rebellious, tongue-in-cheek confidence of its own.
Entering its third year, the Edinburgh Art Festival strengthens the public profile of the visual arts during the time of the biggest festival on earth (the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe create the gigantic centrepiece for a host of others in August). Its main efforts however are concentrated on publicity and creating a platform, with individual galleries providing the curatorial highlights—among them, American abstract painter Robert Ryman at Inverleith House, Matt Stokes at the Collective and David Batchelor’s off-site work with Ingleby Gallery. Alongside it, the Annuale, an off-shoot fringe made by artists for artists, provides a young, dynamic crucible where anything can happen.
But it is perhaps significant that the work of one of the most celebrated contemporary artists in Edinburgh this year, Douglas Gordon, flies clear of visual art festivals altogether. His film of footballer Zidane (feature page 28, review page 59) is part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival and goes on general release in September.
Two Scottish artists from the same generation, both known for tireless self-belief, originality of character and whose work we will not forget, died this spring. Ian Hamilton Finlay, who celebrated his 80th birthday last year, is remembered in the feature section of Map, by his son, artist and publisher, Alec Finlay. Ivor Cutler, born Glasgow 1923, died London 2006 aged 83, did not perhaps attract the same level of international acclaim, but nevertheless had a devoted following of ‘Scotch sitting room’ dwellers. Map’s writer of art journeys, Duncan McLaren, would like to say a few words here.
‘Cutler studied at Glasgow School of Art and became a teacher in Paisley, but leaving Scotland he said “was the beginning of my life”. Nevertheless, there is a bleak and painful affection for the human beings he grew up with that is apparent in his art.
‘His views on aspects of his upbringing are made hilariously apparent in Life in a Scotch Sitting Room, Volume 2. (There is no volume one). A typical episode involves the children of the house each being given three grains of sand, and blowing from their salted mouths onto each others faces, in lieu of a day out at the sea-side. Young Ivor is given the big quartz grain, in recognition of the fact that his kilted grandfather had newly bled the boy’s nose with a punch. By holding up a mirror, however distorted, to the Glasgow of his time, Cutler did us all a service.’
In its second year, and from now to be biennial (surely a relief to its organisers), Glasgow International 2006 opened late April with Ross Sinclair’s continuing, colourful search for real life. The REAL LIFE Painting Show, at CCA, along with art from the charismatic chanteuse Patti Smith at the Mitchell Library, and a new gallery space for Mary, Mary, all included in this issue, were among the highlights of a contemporary art festival quietly continuing to gather pace.
Entering its second year, Map continues to plot the visual arts over Scotland and its international cultural landscape. Traditionally, a new year looks ahead. So, Christine Borland, an artist linked to science this issue, brings her latest explorations to the city at the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh this coming winter. Richard Demarco, crusading as ever, battles to keep his latest venture, a gallery beside the sea and a nuclear power station, afloat. Glasgow's attractions continue to inspire an increasing number of resident artists, musicians and artist-run galleries, producing talents like Simon Starling, represented by the Modern Institute, which celebrates its second Turner Prize winner in a row. Looking ahead to future issues, Douglas Gordon, who emerged onto the international art scene in the 1990s, returns from New York with the National Galleries of Scotland.
As movement and international opportunities increase, so the job of curator becomes more powerful, defined alongside the artist, morphing the dictionary meaning of the word 'official in charge of a museum, library etc.', to become an integral part of the contemporary artist's life and work. Curator and artist are now often celebrated together. But while the temporal bodies of the art world entertain and maneuver, the effect of the art itself as a force of the imagination and change continues, creating work with a potential to inform the future and live on in it. It is that perennial potential at the beginning of this new year which is cause for our celebration.
The steady march of film, video and other screen-based work into the gallery continues. Not long ago they were outsiders, experimental, eclipsed in one world by the big screen and in another, more tangible art mediums. Nowadays, flickering pictures play a part in many exhibitions, either standing alone or more frequently, as part of a multi-media display. In this issue, Ilana Halperin at Edinburgh’s doggerfisher, draws immaculately, but also films her sources. Rosalind Nashashibi, a young artist, selected for the British Art Show 6 at Baltic in September, has recently spent eight months in New York filming. She too draws, but is increasingly associated with a delicate translation of ordinary life on screen. At a time when moving picture technology is so available that everyone can be a director or viewer on a mobile phone, artists like these seem more inspired than ever to explore its potential. At the Venice Biennale, little movies are everywhere, many of them showing remarkably straightforward responses to life, not quite documentary, but exuberant, insightful snippets by gazing, grazing eyes cast over a crowd, a culture, a cup of tea. Some are intimate, some scary. Some demand time, others a moment. Some are immediate, others contrived. Just when we thought TV had us jaded, artists offer new ways of seeing. And to prove it, Threshold, a new gallery devoted to video and film, opens in Perth in September.
Still photography too continues to make a mark. David Michael Clarke and Shauna McMullan have used it on journeys to document and then patch a work together. Eva Merz, and Daziel+Scullion use it on a larger scale, the former collaging, the latter producing advertising billboards. As examined in MAP 3, both have courageous political messages to send with their images, precious and valued commodities in a world of useless ones.
In October 2005, writer/sculptor/artist Ian Hamilton Finlay is 80. Poet Edwin Morgan and sculptor George Wyllie reached that decade some time ago. Continuing to create work of outstanding lucidity, these three prolific men, from their different corners of the art map and with creative voices honed over years of practice, inform and inspire new generations. From the lush tranquil beauty of Little Sparta, his garden on a Lanarkshire hillside, Finlay is preparing to exhibit at the Ingleby Gallery and Inverleith House in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh this summer. Wyllie takes a Cosmic Voyage to the Collins Gallery in Glasgow in August and Edwin Morgan, the 'Scots Makar', adds new poems with star spark, to his sixty year constellation—MAP is honoured to have one specially written this issue for Ian Hamilton Finlay's birthday. Having spent lifetimes exploring the contours of their lives, these artists now have a map of work which takes them from youth, to first success, to established figure, to guru, and remind us that 'contemporary' means now.
On the other side of the mountain from these 'contemporaries', Nigel Peake, the young artist/architect introduced in MAP Portfolio, is just about to embark on his career with a visionary package on board, manifested in the thousands of sketches he's already made. Lotte Glob, who has chosen to live on the edge of the country among the mountains, literally melts rock into artforms: once rejected by the metropolis, she offers her work back to the land that has inspired her and has become her studio and gallery.
Close to the passion for life and nature that all of the above artists share, an open source computer game designed by artists Chad McCail and Simon Yuill gives us all the opportunity to vandalise the society we have, for the good. Experimenting gamers can ban school, fill the rivers with fish and create their own utopias, manipulating the spring_alpha map to discover their own creative solutions to modern life. Offering a window of opportunity, McCail and Yuill take 'contemporary' into the future.
Maps describe boundaries and ownership. They plot destinations and show us the way. They follow terrain and stars and thoughts. Who has not been absorbed in a map? In an increasingly global, electronic culture, maps are more resonant than ever, their very specific logic and beauty often appropriated by artists and art events. Zenomap, the first national presentation of new work from Scotland at the Venice Biennale 2003, was one such, so named after the brothers Zeno, two Venetian navigators who allegedly sailed west from Scotland and charted new territories 90 years before Columbus.
Now, in another Venice year, the new contemporary art magazine Map continues the process of drawing together and celebrating art and artists in Scotland, while connecting to exhibitions and artists around the world; a process that stretches back at least as far as the ‘Strategy-Get-Arts’ interventions in Edinburgh over 30 years ago, and into the future with Glasgow’s new international art festival in April, 2005.