Do we belong to Glasgow?
I’ve been reading a lot recently about Glasgow, its inhabitants and its arts ‘scene’, due mostly to working on the forthcoming exhibition, Direct serious action is therefore necessary and re-reading the release of Social Landscape, both of which are so explicitly tied to the city and its position in the world. It’s made me consider a lot of the reasons I love the city, as well as the negative aspects which we are all aware of, though seem to grow thick-skinned to.
I moved to Glasgow seven years ago almost to the month; it’s not really that long ago, but perhaps its just enough time to take stock of what the place means as a ‘functioning’ cultural capital and whether it really is home or not. A close friend once described a scenario where Glasgow’s role seemed to make sense, it went along the lines of; whilst there was much wrong or lacking with the place, there were the people and, most importantly, the energy to give a potential realisation to that which was absent. This might seem idealistic, but it could be suggested that most of the art here is built on the same idealism, or at least vain hope. But it does raise the question, why is there a lack?
This, undoubtedly, is a question that will cause yet more frustration; my point is though it’s a question that isn’t asked often enough, cue responses. There’s a fragility that surrounds much of our activity in the city, where to question the place as a whole is one that threatens to pull it all apart from the inside. Within a historically working-class, socialist leaning city, the visual arts have always been attuned to defending and justifying its importance. To me it appears quite a precarious position, immediately striking upon any accusation of the cities’ failures rather than assimilating and adapting as might be necessary. This perhaps best demonstrated by the old west-coast/east-coast rivalry.
The apparent desire to shield Glasgow from these levelings seems counter-intuitive to so much of the DIY mentality of the community, as though if to whisper your negativities would be to shatter the hopes of everyone. Of course there’s a scale of perception, for some making contemporary visual art important within Glasgow, nevermind Scotland, is the name of the game, others are content with more or less. I’d hope ultimately that the thing that matters was how life really is here, that we have the space we needed, the balance of the things we have as a community and the things we strive for, I suppose it keeps things interesting and keeps us taking the necessary actions.