Friday, 22 August 2014

The Glasgow School IX: The Big Question

This comes from an early draft of my proposal, but it might help to clarify some of the questions that have come up from previous entries.

 The idea of a unique Glaswegian sensibility has been discussed over the past two decades, primarily following its designation as European City of Culture in 1990. A Swiss curator, Hans Ulrich Obrist, named the resurgence of the artistic community in the subsequent decade as 'The Glasgow Miracle,' and even the contemporary branding of the city council ('Scotland with Style') recognises the idea of a city energised by the arts. Sarah Lowndes' Social Sculpture examined the rise of the Glasgow visual art and music scenes, popularising the idea that the vibrancy of art in the city was a function of particular communities around the Glasgow School of Art, while the CCA's recent project The Glasgow Miracle: Materials for Alternative Histories suggest that the art explosion was the product of  'a gradual accumulation... its roots in the early 70s... and the growth of a DIY exhibition across the city.'

However, that this identity extends to performance has rarely been considered: while the Citizens' Theatre forged an aesthetic identity during the 1970s, and Tramway is internationally respected for programming adventurous performance, connections between Glasgow theatre-makers and their relationship to a broader Glaswegian sense of identity are under-explored. Social Sculpture does not define Glasgow scenes through genre; it develops the idea of a shared heritage – in particular, through the visits of Joseph Beuys to Scotland in the 1970s, when his idea of 'expanded art' as a form of social change was adopted and adapted. 
The examination of cultural identity within performance has generally concentrated on wider areas: the collection of essays in Scottish Theatre looks at a national rather than local continuity. However, the status of Glasgow as a creative hub has been explored in Sarah Lowdnes' Social Sculpture and while my study does not cover similar art-forms or time periods, it does open up the broader appreciation of how Glasgow defines itself through performance.

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