Organised by Viviana Checchia, Curator of Public Engagement, ‘Forms of Action’ presents the work of seven artists whose actions in society are the core of their practice. For some, the invitation to exhibit at CCA led to the production of new work, directly responding to situations they encountered in Glasgow, while others brought existing projects with them to re-imagine. Each with rich cultural, historical and political backdrops, this assembly of artists is, in itself, a timely form of action.
The first gallery space is dominated by Stream of Stories, an installation by Katia Kameli that interrogates the complex origins of La Fontaine’s fables, which are texts of great significance to French culture. Testing and revealing social unrest, democracy, rites and justice, this is a dense work with enough narrative power to keep an audience occupied for some time. Reprised for ‘Forms of Action’, the artist’s latest edition of this work includes texts, film and objects, and continues to be developed as Glasgow-based groups are working with the artist to further explore intercultural experiences and a potential translanguaging of the story.
Asunción Molinos Gordo’s Contestador (Answerphone), supported by the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, comprises a desk, a chair, a lamp and a telephone. This work invites you to call a number provided by an innocuous business card. On the other end of the line are the Frasers, a fictitious farming family, who dictate a series of pre-recorded scenarios and a menu of options. The looping script is beguiling and designed to give some insight to current issues farmers are facing. Participation in this work is straightforward but powerful, as the ‘call’ is broadcast loudly throughout the gallery as well as down the receiver. Created through in-depth research and consultation with local agricultural workers, the ‘tale’ of increasing levels of bureaucracy and socio-political factors affecting food production is no doubt as prevalent in Scotland as it is throughout Europe.
Walking through in to the larger of the two gallery spaces, visitors encounter Dimitri Launder’s Towards a People’s Apothecary: Glasgow. A sketch of sorts, this work is part of a long-term project by the artist gardener. A stylised circular map demarcates the city, and it is surrounded by a series of transparent specimen domes containing resin casts of herbs found in the city. The two components are linked by a series of faint pencil lines. This enchanting work encourages gallery visitors to peer closely at something often overlooked in the outside world.
We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, an installation by Kim Dhillon, and Tequiografias, an ongoing work by Daniel Godinez Nivón, are works which both actively disseminate information. We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live comprises a simple bookshelf containing a number of publications loaned from Glasgow Women’s Library and floor cushions for sitting and reading. The 1970s feminist children’s books present stories about family structures, sexuality, gender and equality. This work continues through a series of book groups, led by Dhillon, taking place at the Library throughout the duration of the exhibition. Tequiografias is produced by Nivón in collaboration with the Assembly of Indigenous Migrants of Mexico City. These large-scale works are produced through a communal system of organisation and knowledge-sharing; cultural information about the indigenous community of Mexico City is recorded, published and distributed through the education systems.
Victoria Lomasko’s Drawing Lessons at a Juvenile Prison and Adelita Husni-Bey’s film After the Finish Line are both a result of the artist working with young people. Drawing Lessons at a Juvenile Prison is a row of framed drawings: five by the artist and five made by prisoners who took part in Lomasko’s art classes for young detainees in Russia. In Glasgow these kinds of programmes are well-established, but in Russia this approach is a radical one. The work illustrates a rather direct action in the form of a skill transfer but no doubt the value of the transactions between the artist and her participants go beyond technical skill alone. After the Finish Line, made during Husni-Bey’s year-long residency in San Francisco, is a film that explores endurance and its physical and psychological impact on young athletes. In the context of this exhibition, the work encourages us to think about the concept of competition and the ‘industrious’ impact on current socio-economic systems.
‘Forms of Action’ presents a diverse series of approaches questioning how art can transform reality. As the exhibition draws to a close, a number of projects involving artists from the exhibition will begin – and so the action continues to take form.