Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Three Festivals Coming Soon

Back when I was a cheeky young pup - as opposed to being a balding cynic - I would stamp my feet at the thought of Edinburgh as 'The Festival City.' Sure, they've got The Fringe, manipulate, the EIF but Glasgow can do it too. Celtic Connections is occupying most of the city this month; last weekend was Sound Thought and there are three festivals between now and June: Buzzcut, Mayfesto and Behaviour

. If they don't cover the gamut of theatrical experience, I'll stop making a fuss about the wonder of the West Coast.

One of my favourite books is Social Sculpture, a survey of the Glasgow Visual Art Scene under the influence of Joseph Beuys. It starts off talking about Beuys's visits (okay, to the East Coast), before examining his idea that art can perform a community function, building an atmosphere that allows creativity to thrive. The music scene is a big part of this and the traditions it mentions - the DIY aesthetic, the overlap between band members and conceptual artists - continue to inspire. Cry Parrot, the Glasgow International, Buzzcut: the connection between these events are not ones of content but aspiration. The desire, both to promote Glasgow as a place where 'art happens' and to bring international art into the city, lends these groups a rare, shared vitality.

Part of this identity keys into my ideas about curation as artistic creation - there are figures behind these names who act as curators - but the vastness of the project means that they take on lives of their own. It's possible to plot routes through Buzzcut and GI that reflect vastly different themes. The question becomes whether these events could happen anywhere else in the world.

That cheeky young pup might have learnt not to make generalisations, but the idea of a Glasgow School, sharing enthusiasms and style, is attractive. Disregarding the branding of the council (which tends to be outward facing, attracting visitors), Glasgow has a distinctive quality, a mixture of political radicalism, post-modern verve and urban hustle. Of course, it has the opposites too, but I am ignoring them. They don't support my optimism about finding an answer...

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