All Art is Political (2014)


The title of Sarah Lowndes’s new collection of essays, All Art is Political refers to George Orwell’s insistence that ‘In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues…’ Orwell exhorted people to become more conscious of the way in which they used words, explaining, ‘the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is the process is reversible.’  Culture, when understood in this way, can be a conscious means of expression rather than a technique for concealing or preventing thought: ‘an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.’


Since the 1990s, performative art has been increasingly accepted into the cultural mainstream, becoming a familiar and popular feature of art galleries and museums, as shown by the Tate Modern’s recent Collecting the Performative project. As art historian Roselee Goldberg notes, The term performative, used to describe the unmediated engagement of viewer and performer in art, has also crossed over into architecture, semiotics, anthropology and gender studies. But what is performative art? What about its radical origins? How does it remain politically engaged? Writer, curator and lecturer at the Glasgow School of Art, Sarah Lowndes takes us through the world of performative art, using five case studies spanning from the 1960s to the present day. A series of essays and conversations, All Art is Political explores the work of artist-musicians Mayo Thompson and Keith Rowe, Berlin-based artist Thea Djordjadze, Glasgow-based Turner Prize winner Richard Wright, American conceptual artist Susan Hiller and German-Swiss artist and writer Dieter Roth.

IBSN: 978-1-9-910021-42-2

Posted in Essays | Leave a comment



Curator, lecturer and lecturer.  Director of Kunsthalle Cromer and Research Fellow at Norwich University of the Arts.  Lowndes’ research encompasses curatorial practice, contemporary art, interdisciplinary and performance-related practice and writing.

Research and Teaching 

I have taught in HE contexts for the last 17 years whilst also working as an independent curator, writer and editor, so I draw on practical experience as well as theoretical perspectives and offer a cross-disciplinary approach to learning and teaching.  I have taught in both university and art school contexts, and still do: currently combining my role as Research Fellow at NUA with working as an Associate Tutor at the University of East Anglia. I teach several interconnected subjects including Art History (with a focus on post 1945 art and design), Art & Design in Organisational Contexts (including Gallery and Museum Studies) and Creative Writing.


2011- 2013 MLitt Creative Writing, Glasgow University

2002-2007 Glasgow School of Art AHRC funded PhD on Performance Art of the 1960s and 70s.

2000-2001 Glasgow School of Art M.Phil. Art and Design in Organisational Contexts.

1993-1997 University of Glasgow M.A. (Hons), English Literature / Film and Television Studies.


2017 – Research Fellow, Norwich University of the Arts

2017 – Associate Tutor, University of East Anglia

2015 – 2016 Visiting Lecturer, Glasgow School of Art

2011 – 2014 Visiting Lecturer, Glasgow University

2008 – Independent Curator

2002 – 2015 Lecturer, Forum for Critical Inquiry, Glasgow School of Art

1997 – Freelance arts writer

Selected Curatorial Projects

Course leader, Site Writing, Shared Reading and Creative Writing workshops, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, Norwich, February 2019 – January 2020.

Course leader, Like the Sea I Think, ACE funded Shared Reading and Creative Writing project delivered in partnership with Norfolk Libraries at Cromer Library and Millennium Library, October-December 2018.

Workshop leader, Shared Reading WWI poetry workshops at Wells-Next-the-Sea and Brancaster Beach, Pages of the Sea (14-18 NOW / National Trust, November 2018).

Curator, Esplanade: A Procession for Women, with participation of 100 local girls and women, Kunsthalle Cromer, West Promenade, Cromer, 8 March 2018.

Curator, Panoramic Sea Happening, re-enactment of Tadeusz Kantor’s 1967 happening, with Henry Layte as The Conductor, Kunsthalle Cromer, East Beach, Cromer, June 2017.

Curator, New Edition, group exhibition by Museums Press, Poster Club and Emer Tumilty (Edinburgh Printmakers / Edinburgh Art Festival, July 2017).

Editor of bi-annual The Burning Sand prose, poetry and art magazine and curator of related live events (2012-2016), funded by Creative Scotland, distributed by Motto and Good Press.

Curator, Valise and co-curator, GLASGOW WEEKEND: art, music and design from Glasgow (Volksbuehne and BQ, Berlin, 18-22 September 2013).

Curator, Studio 58: Women Artists in Glasgow Since WWII (Mackintosh Museum, 2012), exhibition included works by 53 artists including loans from the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow Museums and Glasgow Women’s Library.  Co-organiser (with GSA Exhibitions and AAC, GSA) of Studio 58 symposium, and organiser of related film screening event (2012).

Curator, Dialogue of Hands sculpture park with commissioned works by Chris Johanson, Camilla Low, Mary Redmond and Corin Sworn (Glasgow International, 2012).

Curator and producer, Urlibido, commissioned works by Kim Coleman & Jenny Hogarth, Susie Green, Shelly Nadashi, Kimberley O’Neill, Morag Ross and Cara Tolmie (Glasgow International, 2010).

Curator of Votive exhibition, with works by George Brecht, Nerea Bello, Chris Burden, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Thea Djordjadze, Torsten Lauschmann, Richard Wright and objects loaned from The World Cultures Collection of Glasgow Museums (CCA, Glasgow, 2009).

Chair and co-organiser (with Kathryn Elkin and Louise Shelley) of Subject in Process: Feminism and Art symposium (CCA, Glasgow, 2009).

Curator, Three Blows – all-sound acoustic performance (St. Cecilia’s Hall, Edinburgh, 2008), with Keith Rowe, Mayo Thompson, Sarah Kenchington, Richard Wright and Luke Fowler.

Selected Published Writing

Site Writing: Responses to the Living Area, Sarah Lowndes and Nell Croose Myhill, ed.s, (Norwich: Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, 2020, forthcoming).

Like the Sea I Think:  New Marine Writing from East Anglia, Sarah Lowndes ed., (Norwich: UEA Publishing Project, 2019).

“Learning to Get Along with People We Don’t Like: Artist-led Projects in Glasgow”, Jeff Khonsary and Antonia Pinter ed.s, Institutions by Artists: Volume Two (Vancouver: Filip Editions, 2019, forthcoming).

“Meanwhile at Lower Green, Norwich”, Enclave Review (Cork, Eire: 2019).

Contemporary Artists Working Outside the City: Creative Retreat (London and New York, Routledge, 2018).

Actions: The Image of the World Can Be Different, Andrew Nairne and Sarah Lowndes, ed.s, (Cambridge: Kettle’s Yard, 2018).

The DIY Movement in Art, Music and Publishing: Subjugated Knowledges (London and New York, Routledge, 2016, reprinted in paperback edition 2018).

“The Key Material is Time”, Generation Reader (Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland, 2014).

All Art is Political: Writings on Performative Art (Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2014).

“Window shopping: Glasgow art and the politics of display”, Function / Dysfunction – Contemporary art from Glasgow, (Nürnberg: Neues Museum, Staatliches Museum für Kunst und Design, 2013).

“Hole Punch: The Late Autobiographical Works of Dieter Roth”, Dieter Roth: Diaries, (Edinburgh: Fruitmarket Gallery / London: Yale University Press, 2012).

Studio 58: Women Artists in Glasgow Since World War II, Sarah Lowndes ed., (Glasgow: Glasgow School of Art Exhibitions Department, 2012).

“Botanical Vaudeville”, Robert Rauschenberg, (New York: Gagosian Gallery, 2011).

Social Sculpture: The Rise of the Glasgow Art Scene (Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2010).

“Learned by Heart: The Paintings of Richard Wright’, Richard Wright (New York: Rizzoli, 2010).

“Aleana Egan: A Grey Luminous Light from the Sea”, Aleana Egan (Basel: Kunsthalle Basel, 2008).

“Straight Letters”, Camilla Low, (Dundee: Dundee Contemporary Arts, 2008).

“The Glasgow Scene”, The History of British Art, Volume III (London: Tate Publishing, 2008).

Selected Talks and Lectures

Orator, First There Is a Mountain, Katie Paterson / National Trust, Brancaster Beach, October 2019.

Chair of Artist Unknown panel discussion, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, September 2019.

“Ear of the Edgeland: Breydon Water”, Interview with Bruer Tidman for Broadland Sounds podcast series, Great Yarmouth, May 2019.

“A Field Guide to Getting Lost”, Shared Reading and Creative Writing workshop for Art & Walking project, Art at Work Norwich, delivered in Mildenhall, Suffolk, March 2019.

“Vacant Lots: Artist-Led Spaces, Meanwhile Use and Regeneration”, Lower. Green, Norwich, February 2019.

“Why I Write: Creative Writing as Practice”, Artist’s Programme, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, February 2019.

“The DIY Movement in Art, Music and Publishing: Subjugated Knowledges”, The London Art Book Fair, Whitechapel Gallery, London, September 2018.

“Nice Style: Self-Fashioning in Post-Punk Glasgow Art Bands”, EuroNoize conference, University of Reading, September 2018.

“We Are Born as Nouns Not Verbs: Agnes Martin and the New Mexico Desert”, World Art Research Seminar, University of East Anglia, Norwich, May 2018.

Norfolk Community Arts Roundtable, New Perspectives in Participatory Arts, AHRC Connected Communities Conference, University of East Anglia, May 2018.

Chair of discussion event “What Can Art Do?” with Natasha Walter and Caroline Walker, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, April 2018.

Chair of Women of the World Festival discussion event with Valeria Napoleone and Caroline Douglas, Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich, April 2018.

“Women, Act, Make, Archive, Reset”, panel discussion with Adele Patrick and Elizabeth O’Brien, Glasgow Zine Fest, CCA Glasgow, April 2018.

“Real Life Research”, Postgraduate Research Workshop, Norwich University of the Arts, March 2018.

“Public Art Now”, Chair of Study Afternoon, SCVA, UEA, Norwich, September 2017.

“Self-organize: DIY for a Successful Career”, Professional Practice Seminar, School of Fine Art, Glasgow School of Art, April 2017.

“Contemporary Artist Working Outside the City: Creative Retreat”, Research Seminar, Ideas Factory, Norwich University of the Arts, March 2017.

“The DIY Movement”, The Friday Event, Glasgow School of Art, October 2016.

Public Roundtable, “East or Eden? Contemporary Art in Norwich”, Norwich University of the Arts, September 2016.

“DIY Publishing since 1955”, Visiting Lecturer to Central Saint Martin’s Graphic & Communication Design Foundation course, January 2016.

“The Handshake and the Interface: The Glasgow Art Scene since 1990”, AAH2015, Annual Conference, University of East Anglia, Norwich, 9 – 11 April 2015.

“It’s about the weight (wait)”, Lunch Bytes on Education and Learning, Goethe Institute/CCA Glasgow, December 2014.

“Window shopping: Glasgow art and the politics of display” Nürnberg: Neues Museum, Staatliches Museum für Kunst und Design, December 2013.

Visiting lecturer, School of Arts and Cultures, Newcastle University, October 2013.

“Time, concentration and supermarkets”, The Future Symposium, Jerwood Visual Arts and Film and Video Umbrella/CCA Glasgow, 2013.

“In conversation: Bjorn Roth” at the opening of Dieter Roth: Diaries, Camden Art Centre, London, 2013.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Valise (2013)

Volksbühne Pavilion, 18th-22nd September 2013

Curated by Sarah Lowndes

A modest group exhibition of easily transportable works by ten artists from Glasgow, which took its title from Marcel Duchamp’s portable miniature monograph Boîte-en-valise or box in a suitcase (1935-1940), presented in the glass Pavilion of the Volksbühne.

Valise installation view, left to right: Two works on paper by Richard Wright, oil on canvas by Gregor Wright, acrylic on newsprint by Tony Swain
Valise installation view, left to right: Two works on paper by Richard Wright, oil on canvas by Gregor Wright, acrylic on newsprint by Tony Swain

Sophie Dyer and Maeve Redmond, artwork for The Burning Sand (2013), Valise (2013)
Sophie Dyer and Maeve Redmond, artwork for The Burning Sand (2013), Valise (2013)

Installation view, Valise (2013), works left to right: Andrew Kerr, Hayley Tompkins, Andrew Kerr, Raydale Dower, Tom Varley
Installation view, Valise (2013), works left to right: Tony Swain, Hayley Tompkins, Andrew Kerr, Raydale Dower, Tom Varley


Raydale Dower is an artist and musician, known both for his work with Glasgow bands Uncle John and Whitelock and Tut Vu Vu and for his sculptural interventions and projects.

Sophie Dyer and Maeve Redmond are communication graphic designers. They design art, poetry and prose magazine The Burning Sand, which is edited by Sarah Lowndes.

Andrew Kerr makes semi-abstract acrylic paintings and sculptures that are delicate, evocative and modest in scale.

Optimo (Espacio) was a legendary nightclub run by JD Twitch (Keith McIvor) and JG Wilkes (Jonnie Wilkes) at the Sub Club in Glasgow’s Jamaica Street every Sunday night from 1997 until 2010. Twitch and Wilkes continue to tour, promote and release music as Optimo.

Installation view, Valise (2013)
Installation view, Valise (2013)

Tony Swain is known for paintings depicting complex landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes, interiors and private worlds rendered with acrylic paint on pages taken from The Guardian newspaper.

Hayley Tompkins makes works that bridge the gap between painting and sculpture, which she calls ‘objects’, employing materials such as coloured pencil, watercolour and acrylic paint on newsprint and foolscap, and found objects such as plastic trays or mobile phones.

Tom Varley makes works which explore the relationship between abstraction and language. His film Violence. Silence. is influenced by constrained writing techniques, and playfully explores the associative and poetic possibilities of language.

Richard Wright is best known for making site-specific wall drawings, which are usually painted over at the conclusion of each exhibition, but his oeuvre includes a wide range of works made on paper, from prints on poster paper to complex large-scale works and smaller scale watercolours and collages.

Gregor Wright specializes in drawing, painting, sculpture, words and code.

Opening of Valise exhibition curated by Sarah Lowndes for the Volksbuehne Pavilion.
Opening of Valise (2013)

List of works

Optimo (Espacio), Espacio (Glasgow 1997-2010), neon sign.

Richard Wright, No title (2013), watercolour and collage on paper.

Richard Wright, No title (2013), watercolour and collage on paper.

Gregor Wright, Phone Call From Nowhere (2012), oil on canvas board.

Tony Swain, An ending admitted (2013), acrylic on newsprint.

Hayley Tompkins, Digital Light Pool (2013), acrylic paint on plastic.

Andrew Kerr, One Neck (2013), acrylic on paper.

Raydale Dower, Le Drapeau Noir (Reverse), (2013), steel, black canvas, chalk, cartridge paper – made with Tom Worthington.

Sophie Dyer & Maeve Redmond, artwork for The Burning Sand (2013), print on paper.

On monitor: Tom Varley, Violence. Silence. (2013), 16mm transferred to HD video.

Outside: Raydale Dower, Le Drapeau Noir (2010), steel, black canvas, thread – made with Tom Worthington.

Valise was part of THE GLASGOW WEEKEND: ART, DESIGN AND MUSIC FROM GLASGOW and is sponsored by Creative Scotland, British Council, Volksbühne and BQ Works by Hayley Tompkins, Tony Swain and Gregor Wright appeared courtesy of the artists and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd. Work by Andrew Kerr appeared courtesy of the artist, BQ, Berlin and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd. Works by Richard Wright appeared courtesy of the artist, BQ, Berlin, Gagosian Gallery and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd. All other works courtesy of the artists.

Production credits for Tom Varley, Violence/Silence

Voices: Mhairi McMullan and Hannes Hellstrom

Eyeball: Jack McConville

Sign Language: Sophie Mackfall

Drum: Colin Kearney.

Supported by: Collective Gallery, The Elephant Trust and Glasgow Life.

Posted in Curatorial Projects | Leave a comment

The Stranger, 2HB (Glasgow: CCA, 2009)

The scene: It is almost seven o’clock on a Friday evening in London in mid-October. Dozens of people are still spilling out of the white tent of the art fair into the darkening cool of Regent’s Park.  Most are fashionable, some are rich: all are hungry, and somewhat fatigued from a day spent in the brightly lit and slightly unreal atmosphere of the fair. Across the road, a courtesy coach laid on for VIP guests is parked.  The driver is waiting for the officious blonde intern with the clipboard to instruct him to drive off across town, to the opening of a dead American artist’s retrospective at the Camden Arts Centre.  As the last passengers board, a man makes a phone call to a male colleague, possibly his gallerist.

‘I was just in the talk –’

[inaudible query, something along the lines of – ‘Did you ask her something in the Q & A?’]

‘Yeah, I did actually and she gave me a nice answer.’

[Inaudible response, possibly a comment to the effect that it would be good to get hold of a recording of it]

‘Yeah, I think it was recorded and it’s going to be out on Resonance FM, so it should be easy to…’

[inaudible reply, perhaps checking that everything is in hand for that evening, and that he knows how to get to the place where he will be staying that night]

‘I’m going up to Camden now on this bus. Yeah – I’ll go by the overland to Dalston later.’

While the man has been on the phone, a woman with a heavy accent, either French or Spanish, has boarded the bus and now asks if the seat next to him is free.  Silently he indicates that it is, but with a feeling of slight surprise – given the number of empty seats on the bus.  The man concludes his phone conversation in a more self-conscious manner. Feeling that it might be bad manners to pass the journey in silence, he now turns to the woman and begins making polite conversation.

‘Are you enjoying the fair so far?’

‘Yes’, she says with a girlish laugh.

‘And you’re here as an artist, or a curator or…?’

The woman gives him a slightly too lengthy rundown of her various art-related activities.

‘So you run a space, a magazine and you’re an artist, you must be very busy.’

Again the woman replies with a simpering ‘Yes.’

‘What kind of work do you make?’


‘Photography, right’.  There is a slight pause in which the artist tries and fails to think of anything to say about photography – it is clear that the medium is not his ‘bag’.

Moving on in search of something to talk about with this complete stranger that might interest him slightly more he asks, ‘And what is the journal?’

‘The journal does not exist any more, I am just looking after the archive now, and running the space -‘

‘And is the space…?’

‘Yes, it is new. We are having exhibition programme and events.’

‘What kind of events?’ he asks, perking up, but adopting a slightly proprietorial tone – it is clear that live art is more up his street than photography.

‘Well, all kinds’, says the woman, somewhat bemused.  ‘Is boring to just have exhibitions so we have talks, tea parties – events!’ she finishes emphatically as if exhausted by what strikes her as an unnecessary explanation.

‘Okay, I wasn’t sure what you meant by ‘events’ – it’s become a term that used a lot in the art world and I wanted to qualify what you mean’, the artist replies in a reasonable tone.

His phone rings again.

‘Hi’ (it is obvious that it’s someone he is very intimate with, either his long-term girlfriend or wife).

[inaudible question]
  ‘Yeah, I’m just on the bus going up to Camden’.

[inaudible question: likely to be ‘who are you with?]

The man replies with some hesitancy, as if wary of arousing suspicion, jealousy or irritation in his partner.  ‘I’m with –‘, he pauses, ‘a stranger, actually.’  He lets out a small, nervous laugh.  ‘She just came and sat down next to me.’  (This last said as if to admonish himself from any wrongdoing).

[inaudible question, likely to be: ‘What is her name?]

‘I don’t know actually – what is your name?’ he asks the woman.


‘Arelia?’ he pronounces the strange name uncertainly.  
‘I’m Bob’ he says, and then, something about the strangeness of the situation causes him to perceive the shortened version of his own name as being potentially misunderstood, being a verb as well as a proper noun. An image of apples bobbing in a bucket of water for Hallowe’en floats into his mind. ‘Bob as in Robert’, he adds, laughing again uncertainly at the oddness of introducing himself to this woman while on the phone to his partner.  Returning to the conversation with his partner, he responds to a comment she has made concerning the mess he has left in their home (in a Northern city some three hours train ride away) in his haste to depart for London and the fair.

‘Yeah, I’m sorry I left in a bit of a panic and just left a big pile of clothes on the floor…’

[inaudible question, likely to be ‘what are you wearing?’]

‘I just put on my leather jacket.’

[inaudible question, probably concerning his plans for the evening.]

‘Yeah, I’m going up there later. I’m getting a bit nervous actually, it’s going to be packed.’

[Inaudible statement, likely to be ‘I love you’]

He replies, ‘Yeah, me too’ – the classic response when unwilling to say aloud in a public place ‘I love you’.

[inaudible statement – probably ‘I miss you’]

Having only left home a few hours earlier, he replies with a trace of irritation, at having this rare free time interrupted, ‘I miss you too’.

[the imagined reply, perhaps slightly frosty in tone: ‘I can tell you’re busy, give me a ring later if you have time.’]

He says (with some relief),‘Okay, yeah, I’ll phone you later.’

Turning once more to his companion, he says, by way of explanation, ‘As you’ve probably gathered, that was my partner, we’ve got a young son and she was just putting him to bed (a slight pang enters his heart at the thought of his son in his pyjamas, fresh from the bath with his hair tousled and his face rosy, clutching his favourite story book, ‘How do dinosaurs go to bed?’  But a second later, his thoughts turn back to the evening ahead in London, and he says brightly to the woman, ‘I’ve got a couple of nights off!’  Then, unable to resist a small boast, he says, ‘I’m going up to Dalston later to do a performance at this Dada event.’

‘Oh’ says the woman, clearly about as interested in performance as the man is in photography.

Changing tack, the man says, ‘I went to the talk about [inaudible].  It made it all seem really important – sometimes I don’t know how important art is – so it’s good to feel that it is.’

‘The woman, who clearly suffers from no such misgivings about the importance of art, offers nothing in reply.  Gallantly, the man asks, ‘What is your work about?’

‘Mostly I am taking photographs of funerals around the world, as an expression of individual and community.’  This is said in a slightly prim and self-important way, with the subtext ‘my work is far more worthy than your silly performances’.

The man is left gobsmacked by this response – thinking silently, her work sounds awful – and really out of date.

A silence descends for a few moments in which the artist thinks, God, I am so tired.  His son had woken him up at 6am that morning, and his partner, extracting the last bit of co-parenting available before he fled to London, had said, ‘Can you get up with him please?’ and then turned over in a way that suggested she was not asking, but telling.  The man cannot draw up the strength to discuss the woman’s terrible photographs of funerals – and thinks, a bit petulantly, I didn’t ask her to come and sit next to me.  He wishes he could be alone to mull over the events of the day and to think ahead to his performance that evening – to enjoy the strange tinselly feeling of nervous excitement that being in London at night brings.  The coach has now stopped at some traffic lights in a leafy street in St. John’s Wood.

‘It’s so dark’, the woman says.

He, mistaking her comment for self-congratulation relating to the profundity of her own practice assents blandly, ‘Yes, it must be.’

‘No, I meant –‘, she gestures towards the night outside.  ‘It is quite scary, especially if you are a stranger’, placing emphasis on the final word as if piqued at being described in this way to his partner.

‘I’m sorry about that’, he says, ‘I didn’t know how to describe you as you’d only just sat down beside me.’

‘Ah –’, says the woman, and then muses, ‘What is the difference between foreign and stranger?’

‘Well -’, the artist says, with a spark of sudden interest, being a man who likes to pin down the specifics in life.  ‘They are similar words, but you use them in different contexts – you would talk about a foreign language for instance, but not a strange one.’  He is conscious suddenly of the race issue, and how describing the woman as ‘foreign’ might even be worse than describing her as a stranger.  Suddenly, and with blessed relief, he thinks of Albert Camus and offers, as if he had been complimenting the woman all along, ‘Stranger sounds better in French…’

‘Yes’ the woman agrees, giggling again girlishly.

Silence descends once more, broken by the arrival of the coach at the gallery.  The man and woman disembark, the woman immediately encountering some friends approaching the gallery on foot.  She embraces them warmly and begins talking to them in fast and excited French.  The artist, who has been forgotten, walks towards the bright lights of the gallery and the slender flutes of champagne sitting fizzing on the counter inside, just waiting to be drunk.


Posted in Creative Writing | Leave a comment

The Glasgow Weekend: art, design and music from Glasgow (2013)

Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz and BQ, Berlin, 20th – 22nd September 2013

Curated by BQ and Sarah Lowndes

THE GLASGOW WEEKEND was a 3-day festival of innovative, diverse and highly acclaimed visual art, film, performance, music and design from Glasgow, presented at the Volksbühne Theatre and BQ, during Berlin Art Week 2013. The Glasgow Weekend featured new works from Turner Prize winning artists Douglas Gordon and Richard Wright,  and coincided with an exhibition of new works by internationally renowned artist David Shrigley at BQ. Other highlights included Franz Ferdinand, playing songs from their eagerly anticipated 4th album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (20th September), Torsten Lauschmann‘s site-specific cinema performance At the Heart of Everything a Row of Holes (21st September) and nightly parties hosted by acclaimed avant-garde Glaswegian DJ duo OPTIMO. The programme also showcased music, performance and sculptural interventions from emergent Glasgow-based artists Jamie Bolland, Romany Dear, Raydale Dower, Ashanti Harris and Julia Scott. Newly commissioned publications by Prawn’s Pee (Ben Ashton, Rob Churm, Oliver Pitt and Rebecca Wilcox) and The Burning Sand and merchandise co-designed by Richard Wright and April Crichton will form part of a pop-up presentation in the Volksbühne by Glasgow gallery and bookstore Good Press. In BQ’s showroom (apartment upstairs from the gallery) and the Pavilion adjacent to the Volksbühne, there was a trio of exhibitions entitled VALISE (18th -22nd September), curated by Glaswegian galleries David Dale Gallery, The Duchy and Sarah Lowndes.

Friday 20th September

Raydale Dower, Beethoven’s 5th (X8), performed at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)
Raydale Dower, Beethoven’s 5th (X8), performed at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)

Raydale Dower opened the weekend with a performance in the Volksbühne Theatre’s Stern Foyer (Foyer of the Stars), recreating a written account of a 1920 Stefan Wolpe Dada performance using 8 copies of Beethoven 5th on 8 turntables at various speeds.

The action then moved to the Roter Salon (Red Salon) for the launch of Volume 2 of bi-annual art magazine The Burning Sand (edited by Sarah Lowndes, designed by Sophie Dyer & Maeve Redmond) and limited edition publication by Prawn’s Pee (Ben Ashton / Rob Churm / Oliver Pitt / Rebecca Wilcox).

The launch event featured a musical performance by Torsten Lauschmann and Richard Wright.  Lauschmann, whose musical alterego is Slender Whiteman and Wright, who plays guitar in Glasgow alt-pop band Correcto, presented a new musical collaboration with player piano and electric guitar.

Richard Wright performing at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)
Richard Wright performing at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)

A second musical performance followed, by Jamie Bolland and Raydale Dower.  Bolland and Dower, from anarchic Glasgow band Tut Vu Vu, presented new Musique Concrète compositions including a revisiting of the work of Erik Satie.

Jamie Bolland performing at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)
Jamie Bolland performing at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)

Warm up sounds from avant-garde Glaswegian DJ duo Optimo (Keith McIvor and Jonnie Wilkes, aka JD Twitch and JG Wilkes) in the Stern Foyer presaged the arrival on the main stage of Franz Ferdinand, playing songs from their back catalogue and eagerly anticipated and critically acclaimed 4th album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (2013)

Franz Ferdinand on stage at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)
Franz Ferdinand on stage at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)

The evening concluded with a Franz Ferdinand Afterparty hosted by Optimo in the Roter Salon.

The Glasgow Weekend co-curators Joern Boetnagel (BQ) and Sarah Lowndes at the FF Optimo Afterparty
The Glasgow Weekend co-curators Joern Boetnagel (BQ) and Sarah Lowndes at the FF Optimo After party

Saturday 21st September

The evening began with a film installation the Volksbühne’s Third Floor Theatre by Douglas Gordon, Silence, Exile, Deceit (2013).  In this ‘industrial pantomime’ shot on location in Essen, using blinding light and the deepest darkness, sounds and visual impressions, Gordon poses the question of “who has a say”—artist, performer, or spectator.

Douglas Gordon at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)
Douglas Gordon at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)

The action then moved to the Stern Foyer where Ashanti Harris presented a solo dance performance, a new dance work exploring cultural appropriation and representation, combining elements of traditional dances performed in Barbados and by Amerindians in Guyana with longsword dancing practiced in Yorkshire, England.

Ashanti Harris performing at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)
Ashanti Harris performing at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)

This performance was followed by a live dance performance by Romany Dear, You I Move, You Move (2013), exploring the communicative power of the body.  The piece was choreographed by Romany Dear and performed by Romany Dear, Ashanti Harris and Julia Scott, the three co-founders of Glasgow Open Dance School (GODS).

Ashanti Harris, Julia Scott and Romany Dear perform at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)
Ashanti Harris, Julia Scott and Romany Dear perform at The Glasgow Weekend (2013)


The programme of live events continued with a Film installation in the theatre’s main auditorium by Torsten Lauschmann, At the Heart of Everything a Row of Holes (2011 (2013 revision)).  This dazzling site-specific cinematic performance responded to the specific architecture of the Volksbuehne’s art deco theatre, showcasing Lauschmann’s interest in the earliest forms of magical entertainment and the latest technical innovations.

Torsten Lauschmann in rehearsal for At the Heart of Everything a Row of Holes (2013 Revision).
Torsten Lauschmann in rehearsal for At the Heart of Everything a Row of Holes (2013 Revision).

The evening concluded with a party in the Stern Foyer hosted by Optimo (Keith McIvor and Jonnie Wilkes): an excursion into territories far beyond the accepted boundaries of club music.

Optimo Espacio neon sign
From Jamaica Street to Weydingerstrasse: Optimo Espacio neon sign installed for The Glasgow Weekend

 Elsewhere in the building:

New site-specific wall drawings by Richard Wright, Torsten Lauschmann’s Digital Clock (Growing Zeroes), Jonnie Wilkes’ neon Optimo and Espacio signs and Chandeliers by Raydale Dower were installed in the theatre building for The Glasgow Weekend. Open from 6pm on both evenings was a pop up shop in Stern Foyer run by Good Press, selling publications and The Glasgow Weekend merchandise designed by April Crichton and Richard Wright.

Good Press pop up shop in the Stern Foyer, The Glasgow Weekend
Good Press pop up shop in the Stern Foyer, The Glasgow Weekend


All photographs of The Glasgow Weekend by Steffen Jagenburg, with the exception of the photograph of Romany Dear’s performance, taken by Sarah Lowndes.

The Glasgow Weekend was sponsored by Creative Scotland, British Council and BQ

Posted in Curatorial Projects | Leave a comment