You know how New York City has a world famous museum of Modern Art, always advertising the most interesting exhibitions in the world while you are lying in your foreign bed wishing you were there to see? Well, I will have you know Scotland tried its best by having its own version of it, except this time it’s a Gallery. The Gallery of Modern Art. Which is not the same at all but I like to think so because of the similar name.
The GoMA is located in central Glasgow – more precisely in George square – and welcomes tourists with the most infamous helmet-wearing sculpture of the Duke of Wellington. Fun fact is, the traffic cone obviously was not part of the original sculpture, but despite the city council’s numerous attempts at removing it, a new one always managed to appear overnight, leading them to eventually give up the fight. Ironic thing is, the traffic cone has now become a major unofficial symbol of the city and loads of travellers photograph it everyday. Now don’t say you don’t wish you were the person who put up the first traffic cone on that fine lad’s head.
Funny stories aside, the GoMA in itself is a really cool place that I have actually visited in the past, as Glasgow is not far from Aberdeen and my passion for art knows no boundaries. It’s really easy to access, it’s free and you can easily spend a whole afternoon there. On top of that, exhibitions always change – as they do in galleries – so each time it’s different. This one episode, I was supposed to meet my boss in Glasgow (the story of this will come with a later post), for a meeting which eventually lasted less than an hour. That left me with most of the day to explore the city a bit more and, since it was cold and rainy, I decided the GoMA was my best bet to spend an afternoon in peace and quiet.
The ground floor was centred around film maker John Samson, in the first museum exhibition of his works. In youth, Samson was deeply involved in movements of protest, later on taking up writing, art and photography and entering a bohemian circle of artists and musicians in Glasgow. This was accompanied by a keen interest in society, the underlying issues and realities that affect our lives and marginal, emerging forms of art of the time. He produced clips on tattoos, the sex lives of disabled people, locomotives, latex in a nutshell, creating an array of seemingly unrelated topics which somehow presented a sense of unity in their peculiarity.
Now as some of you may know, I really like fashion. That does not mean I read magazines or follow trends – in fact I am the last person on earth you could ask that to – but I just really like the idea of a piece of artwork coming to life through you. It’s portable art, really, and I love that. On that note, a great part of this exhibition was all about the 80’s and 90’s in London, including the new forms of fashion that characterised those times. You can probably see how that intrigued me.
The introduction of latex as a textile was explained, with different interviews highlighting a need for change – something at the time deeply unsettling for normal class people. Cool stuff really.
Upstairs were a bunch of different exhibitions, from photographs of the Western Hostel – where homeless men in Glasgow lived – to handprints of artists belonging to Surrealism and related movements such as Marcel Duchamp. One that really caught my eye was Hito Steyerl’s Abstract – a 7-minute series of clips dedicated to friend Andrea Wolfe, who died in Kurdish war zones whilst protesting against the PKK. The clip is aimed at the weapons manufacturer whose products most likely killed the artist’s friend, denouncing a society which condemns conflicts whilst at the same time feeding them.
(Abstract – 2012)
Overall, it was a great way to spend the afternoon and get to know a bit more of our world. Art is a silent but loud form of speech, it can open your eyes to realities you either did not know of or chose to ignore. Seeing first Samson’s exhibition, dealing with unspoken truths about the London life of the time, as well as Steyerl’s cry against a hypocritical society, have the power of making you extremely aware of the world you live in and the issues that affect it daily.
If you’re ever in Glasgow, make sure to pay a visit to the GoMA, and check out the brochures at the entrance of the gallery as they usually have more info on other exhibitions in the city or the wider Scotland. If you have a bit more time on your hands, another Art museum I love in Glasgow is the Kelvingrove, which however was way too big for the short amount of time I had. The building is an absolutely massive chunk of history sporting historical exhibitions of science, nature and everything in between. It’s a more traditional way of spending the day, as the GoMA is all about modern art instead, but I swear I could get lost in that building and never get out!
That said, I think it’s time to wrap up this artistic rambling. I hope you guys found the most interesting – maybe informative – and hopefully you’ll get to see the GoMA for yourself in your next trip. Who knows?!
Hope you’re all having a lovely day,