Now in its eighth edition, Glasgow International is Scotland’s largest festival for contemporary visual art which takes in major new commissions by big names as well as an abundance of lesser-knowns.
This year the GI is an especially sprawling affair, extending into nearly 80 locations and permeating every element of the city, from paintings propped on sofas in the window of a charity shop to jazzy abstract patterns on the subway floor, giant billboards and downloadable artist-designed typefaces.
Although the festival officially finishes this weekend, many shows can be seen into the summer. Exhausting but also exhilarating, here are some must-sees.
Cellular World: Cyborg-Human-Avatar-Horror at Glasgow Museum of Modern Art
Organized by this year’s curator Richard Parry, this nine-artist mothership show sets out the 2018 GI’s broad central themes around human identity and representation in our computer age.
Installation View, Cellular World at GoMA, Glasgow International Festival 2018 CREDIT: ALAN DIMMICK
An eclectic lineup includes John Russell’s giant backlit digital collage that stretches across the space and literally places a (sightless) elephant in the centre of the room; American artist Cecile B Evans’ miniature recreation of the study of a fictional architect whose severed head sits on his desk chair while ectoplasmic smoke billows from a corner; and several filmed episodes from the life of American artist and sound designer E Jane’s online avatar (who also has a successful musical career and clothing range). Until October 7; glasgowlife.org.uk
Mark Leckey: Nobodaddy and Tai Shani: Dark Continent — Semiramis, at Tramway
2008 Turner Prize winner Leckey’s huge looming figure covered in gaping wounds and boils is the unlikely star of this year’s GI. This sorry fellow is based on an 18th century carved wooden statuette of Job, that most benighted biblical character, and he sits in Tramway’s vast cavernous space with head bowed and sound oozing from speakers set into his putrefying sores.
Installation view, Mark Leckey, Nobodaddy, Tramway, Glasgow International 2018 CREDIT: KEITH HUNTER
The air fills with a distorted disquieting diatribe in which he details plagues, suffering and a desire to fly, to swim, to escape. Projected onto a screen opposite is his CGI twin who is set in a constantly-changing environment of shifting time and light.
Occasionally the camera enters his hollow body to offer a virtual endoscopy of internal voids and spaces. Ancient and modern, traditional and high-tech but fundamentally empty, we can all relate to his existential predicament.
Also in Tramway don’t miss Tai Shani’s installation of dramatic sculptural elements – a huge pink cylindrical squiggle, broken columns, scattered spheres and a giant hand.
Tai Shani, Dark Continent: SEMIRAMIS at Tramway, Glasgow International 2018 CREDIT: KEITH HUNTER
This was the stage set for a performance based on a 15th-century proto-feminist text which is now being shown as an accompanying film. Nobodaddy until until 25 July; Tai Shani until 7 May; tramway.org
Urs Fischer: Maybe and Duggie Fields at The Modern Institute
A key player both within the city of Glasgow and the international art world at large, The Modern Institute has excelled itself with a pair of shows that playfully contrast the barest of minimal with the most excessively maximal.
Installation view, Maybe, 2018, The Modern Institute, Aird’s Lane, Glasgow International 2018 CREDIT: PATRICK JAMESON
One gallery has been left empty save for pair of rather sinister mechanised replica snails by Swiss-born, New York-based Urs Fischer, which torturously circumnavigate the room.
Installation view, Duggie Fields, The Modern Institute, Osborne St, Glasgow International 2018 CREDIT: SEAN CAMPBELL
The other space has been transformed into a vivid recreation of the jazzily decorated Earl’s Court apartment of legendary artist Duggie Fields – leopard skin prints, mannequins and all – which is interspersed with Fields’ brightly coloured, crisply graphic paintings dating from the 1970s to the present. Both until 26 May; themoderninstitute.com
Bower of Bliss: Linder’s Flag and Film at Glasgow Women’s Library
One of the most memorable events of GI opening week was the dawn arrival of Linder’s specially designed flag in a boat rowed down the Clyde by the (female) Lord Provost of Glasgow, wearing her chains of office over her lifejacket.
Linder, «Bower of Bliss», Glasgow Women’s Library, 2018 CREDIT: CINEMATOGRAPHER: FATOSH OLGACHER
The flag, depicting a brilliantly coloured collage of lips, tongues and leaves, now hangs outside the Glasgow Women’s library. Within, a rich range of feminist texts and rare archive material accompany a trippily hedonistic film shot by Linder (who is probably best known for her Buzzcocks album covers) in the grounds of Chatsworth, where she pays homage to former occupants Mary Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick. Until May 7; womenslibrary.org.uk
A Roomful of Lovers: Richard Wentworth and Victoria Miguel; Judy Blame; Dmitri Galitzine and Hugo Scott at SWG3
There’s a clutch of good shows in this recently refurbished arts and events complex housed in former industrial buildings to the west of the city.
Installation view, Richard Wentworth and Victoria Miguel, A Roomful of Lovers (Glasgow), SWG3, Glasgow International 2018 CREDIT: COURTESY OF THE ARTISTS & SWG3
Highly regarded British artist Richard Wentworth and the poet Victoria Miguel have made a dramatic joint work which celebrates a shared love of language by suspending sheets of their intermingled texts from 6oo metres of heavy-duty steel chains looping through the cavernous expanse of a former galvanizing factory.
A railway arch contains a small and satisfying show of collages and intricately assembled jewellery (including an ingenious necklace made from buttons and bras) by revered designer Judy Blame, who died earlier this year.
Also don’t miss recent Royal Academy Schools graduate Dmitri Galitzine’s three-screen film which chronicles hopes, dreams and hilarities behind the scenes at a London rehearsal studios. Until May 7; swg3.tv
Hardeep Pandhal: Self-loathing Flashmob at Kelvin Hall
The voices of disenfranchised youth ring through Kelvin Hall’s foyer and dancehall courtesy of rising star Hardeep Pandhal, who draws on his background as a second-generation British Sikh raised in Birmingham to create a visually cacophonous installation of lurid cartoonish painted cut-out sculptures, wall paintings and animation.
Installation View, Hardeep Pandhal, Self-Loathing Flashmob, at Kelvin Hall, Glasgow International Festival 2018 CREDIT: ALAN DIMMICK
These form a sharp and savagely humorous satire of social and racial stereotypes and here are accompanied by multiple TV monitors showing fragments of footage shot during the 2010 student protests against government cuts. Until May 7; kelvinhall.org.uk