Eating: Tempura Kiro
Reading: Glasgow International programme
an experimental series: more than a tweet, less than a review, with refreshments
lacking all discipline, essentially
Today I caught a little bit of Glasgow International. Spread across the city (there are handy maps pinpointing venues, many of which are buildings I’ve never had reason to visit before) are 90 exhibitions and 80+ events between 20th April and 7th May, with some installations lingering longer. Beyond the art, it’s a window into a Glasgow I rarely see and the potential of underused or little known spaces, especially the older buildings dotting industrial spreads.
Without knowing what was on there, I picked Tramway as first stop (and inevitably bumped into a few disparate groups of friends doing the same.) As one of the larger exhibition and event spaces open year round it’s usually a sure bet. Just in time for a showing of Tai Shani’s Dark Continent: SEMIRAMIS, a large cast performance described as “violent, erotic and fantastical images told in a dense, floral language which re-imagines female otherness as a perfect totality, set in a world complete with cosmologies, myth and histories that negate patriarchy.” With very little seating, audience members largely sit on the floor for the 45 minute duration for calm narration in front of a pink-hued, geometric set which felt both very 2018 in taste (I have recently bought both riso prints and decorative knick-knacks which would fit right in) and like inner workings, in some physical or psychological sense. The words build on Shani’s ongoing project “Dark Continent Productions that proposes an allegorical city of women is an experimental and expanded adaptation of Christine de Pizan’s 1405 allegorical city for notable women drawn from a medieval conception of history where fax, fiction, and myth and blurred” but although I left thinking about the possibilities of sets accompanying spoken word and poetry performance, more my comfort area, I felt the impact reached a peak fairly soon on I might have taken more from the work if I was reading the text so as to fully absorb it.
Elsewhere in Tramway was Mark Leckey’s video installation Nobdodaddy, the title takenfrom William Blake, “a play on the idea of God as the father of no one, but also the man with no body.” Leckey takes an enlarged 18th century wooden figure of Job and placed it in the room facing a video installation depicting the figure. Initially, it looks like a straight (and live) video recording, but soon delves into the hollows within the statue, through bodily tubes, and shows the figurine in similar but different surroundings (i.e. surrounded by flora and traffic cones while the figurine in the room remains unmoved) to disorient the observer watching both screen and figurine. I enjoyed it, and the voiceover reminded me of fellow artist Bedwyr Williams here talking about using “the booming voice of God to describe the most banal things.” Leckey’s most well known work Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore can be seen on vimeo.
In the next room, Kapwani Kawanga’s Soft Measures installation made me feel I might need a critical insight into textiles to take something from its stones and drapes.
Tempuro Kiro, a casual restaurant focusing on tempura quietly launched two weeks on Victoria Road just around the corner from the Tramway, and I cannot resist trying new independent Japanese places. It’s small, with three tables to be shared and a couple of stools by the window, and a simple set menu – a choice of vegetarian or ‘mixed’ tempura which is served with rice, pickles, miso soup and unending green tea. What’s available each day (fish as well as vegetable choice) is posted on a notice. The vegetable tempura was overall just slightly too heavy on onions for me, but the sweet potato was lovely, the miso soup just right, and while the dipping sauce was a little light on flavour, I enjoyed it overall, helped along by friendly owner (formerly of Papercup and the short-lived Pena.) But the best thing was the view out of the window, and I mean this in all seriousness, of sunshine across the brick wasteland where the bus depot used to be. The south side is always adventure to me and it felt all the more like a hidden gem.
Further up towards Bridge Street, in the direction of the city centre, are a couple more GI exhibits. I’ve rarely walked this area; the motorway overhead, empty industrial buildings and wide road always makes the gap between city centre and south side feel impassable to me, and perhaps that is a pity. But it’s also a little like my commute in places. Sometimes I think about writing a nature diary, but it would really be a pisstake; I mostly see weeds. But standing to take a photograph of the blue motorway bridge the shape strangely reminded me of The Worker’s Theatre Weekender flyer last year.
On the map was the building of The Savings Bank, a beautiful old building I’d never been in before (or even heard of.) In the dimly lit, lynchian vibe was Michelle Hannah’s multidisciplinary work Keener. ‘The term “Keener” references women hired to sing at funeral wakes as a vocal form of mouning, historically with the Church accusing the practice as being Paganistic, challenging the hierarchical role of the male priests at the time.” I didn’t catch the event, but despite the attendants’ chatting away which distracted from the atmosphere created by the otherworldly, eerie soundscape, I enjoyed wandering around the velvety two-tier space, with its brass fixtures and fittings and glorious old lighting, to find installed objects like perfume bottles and microphones. “Using expanded photography, mediative pop soundscapes, CGI video and theatrical apocalyptic aesthetics to provide a decadent ambience in the historical setting of The Savings Bank.” The history of the bank is also provided. It turns out “at the turn of the 20th century The Savings Bank was one of the largest Merchant Banks for working class people in the city… this exhibition for GI2018 is interpreted in this setting as an intimate cabaret environment to subvert the traditional chanteuse singer while offering a modern Keener: lamenting the loss of the Bank’s “body” through the creation of a post-digital queer space.” I loved the change to see inside, and thought this exhibition in particular was a great combination of art and making the most of the city’s spaces. Just what you’d want in a Glasgow art festival, really.
And while I’m here, check out this book trailer made by Dostoyevsky Wannabe for their Cities strand…