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Variant, issue 42, Winter 2011

Complete issue: text    pdf

Front Cover : pdf
Anthropometrie de l’Epoque Nu
Jim Colquhoun

issue 39/40 cover

The recent future of Scottish Art
Robin Baillie and Neil Mulholland

An energetic discussion recorded over two sessions, Baillie/ Mulholland get to the crux of the issues raised by Craig Richardson’s recently published book ‘Scottish Art since 1960: Historical Reflections and Contemporary Overviews’, which describes its intention as:
“Providing an analysis and including discussion (interviewing artists, curators and critics and accessing non-catalogued personal archives) towards a new chronology, Richardson here examines and proposes a sequence of precisely denoted ‘exemplary’ works which outlines a self-conscious definition of the interrogative term ‘Scottish art’.”

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The Economy of Abolition/Abolition of the Economy
Neil Gray in exchange with Marina Vishmidt

Through the prism of the ‘communisation thesis’, Gray/ Vishmidt reflect upon: human capital exploited as investment portfolio in ‘The Big Society’; affirmation and negation as political potentialities; the fragmentation of the class relation based on waged work; financialisation and the collapse of social democracy; the politics of reproduction; and the imposition of, resistance to, and potential negation of debt. …Not just a change in the system, but a change of the system; not later on, but now.

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“Language is never neutral”
Responses to Variant’s interview with Andrew Dixon, CEO of Creative Scotland

"It is difficult to ignore the feeling that we are witnessing the formation of ‘legitimate’ subjects of art and culture and a re-imagining of what it means to use those very words."
Feeling a heightened imperative following the interview with Andrew Dixon in the spring issue and subsequent developments, Variant has sought to proactively and collectively consider the potential impact of these changes for artistic practice, and, more broadly, for the meaning of art and culture in contemporary Scotland. As a contribution towards such dialogue, Variant has invited a series of responses which here take the form of interview exchanges and written rejoinders.

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Boredom in the Charnel House : Theses on ‘Post-industrial’ Ruins
John Cunningham

A critical analysis of the aestheticisation in photography of industrial and Fordist ruins using as a starting point Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre's 'The Ruins of Detroit'. Is it possible to deconstruct the phantasmagoria of industrial ruins through the images that constitute it? Is it enough to just play in the ruins without developing a politics capable of opposing the capitalism that produces them?

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Art of Protest : On Testing Cultural Forms of Resistance
Katarzyna Kosmala in conversation with Oliver Ressler

An exchange exploring the role of politically engaged art in protest and human rights issues, reflecting on Ressler’s recent films: Socialism Failed, Capitalism is Bankrupt. What Comes Next? and Comuna Under Construction:
"I think art can have a crucial function for an analysis of the current political and economic situation, in expressing criticism, connecting to existing social movements and in thinking about alternative ways about how to organise our societies."

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Tales from a River Bank : Bullying, the Arts, and the Production of Museum Space
David Beel

Anne-Marie Quigg’s book 'Bullying in the Arts: Vocation, Exploitation and Abuse of Power', reveals for Beel a very different perspective from the romanticised image of ‘creative’ work with regard to some of the problems faced by individuals negotiating labour practices in the arts, culture and heritage. The issues Quigg brings to the fore are a timely intervention for Beel - faced with institutional silence they may help elucidate a recent internal investigation into bullying and harassment within the curatorial processes of the recently completed Riverside Museum in Glasgow, raising wider questions about the nature of ‘outsourced’ municipal cultural governance.

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Disposable Women, Not Natasha, and the Economics and Politics of Sex Trafficking
Roberta McGrath

A cogent review of the exhibition and online book'Not Natasha', which began as a way for Dana Popa to tell the stories of young girls from Moldova sex trafficked across Europe. Popa was then commissioned by the London-based human rights and photography organisation Autograph to develop this work, which was subsequently exhibited in Dublin, augmenting public policy.
"Popa begins her story: At the end of the road as the daylight dims, women are brought and here, and just beyond the middle-class apartments, sex is bought; bodies are sold. Her point is clear. At the end of many streets - just around a corner, just beyond where we care to look - the same story is repeated. We choose, she says, not to look; not to see; and consequently not to think of who is there."

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Anarchism & Sexuality
Tracey McLennan, Gordon Asher in exchange with Jamie Heckert

Heckert is a founding member of the Anarchist Studies Network and the editor of two collections of perspectives on anarchism and sexuality. Starting from the most recent collection of "passionate, provocative papers that incite the reader to recognise the relevance of anarchist ideas to queer and feminist sexual politics”, McLennan/Asher engage Heckert in dialogue concerning making these queerly anarchist contributions to social justice literature, policy and practice.

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