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Variant 9 Winter 1999/2000
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A look into the relationship between politics, art and tabloid coverage of the arts.  The arts policy of the UK Labour government of the '60s is compared with that of today.
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All Messed Up - William Clark
In an attempt to extend the review format, Jonathon Green's 'All Dressed Up (the sixties and the counterculture)' is analysed.  The book is found to be loose meandering nostalgia, lacking in many respects and contradictory in others. The character history of Green's own 'countercultural activity' is examined, and doubts raised on the validity of his observations and awareness.
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Not so groovey, Bob - William Clark
Working alongside the above, this is a penetrating look at 'Groovey Bob (The life and times of Robert Fraser)' compiled by Harriet Vyner.  Largely made up of snippets from interviews Vyner offers a drunken collage of debris, and half-remembered weary anecdotes, the most notable being Fraser's drug bust with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
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Playing with Fire - Marshall Anderson
Anderson unravels the ludicrous confusion which escalated during Stirling Council's desperate attempts to burn down a giant statue of Scottish legend Robert The Bruce.  This was yet another a misconceived Millennium project, whose symbolism turned against the council, as did the good citizens of Stirling.  Using an investigative approach Anderson follows the farce (at one point the Council decide to burn a statue of actress Diana Rigg, then footballer Billy Bremner) and also provides insight on the history of fire festivals.
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Comic and Zine Reviews - Mark Pawson
Pawson offers another boredom-busting round-up of uncategourisable material such as: Crap Hound, Comic Book Heaven and From Parts Unknown.
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Who's Afraid of Film & Video in Scotland - Ann Vance
A thoughtful and intelligent examination of the exhibition of single-screen film & Video in Scotland.  It contrasts a very restrained account of the 'blatant self-interest and decisiveness', which surrounded the formation of New Media Scotland with an encouraging and critical look three artist-initiative presentations of film and video.  It is a personal view and a record of projects whose relevance ends up distorted or viewed in isolation.
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supplement - Socially Engaged Practice Forum
Dialogical Aesthetics:A Critical Framework for Littoral Art
- Grant Kester
Grant Kester (assistant professor of contemporary art history and Theory at Arizona State University) puts forward a very thorough framework for art which seeks to be socially engaged.  This framework has a broad philosophical sweep which focus on the difficulties of Modern and Post-modern art's differentiation from other 'lower' forms of culture.  Kester favours forms of 'Littoral art', which have the capacity to interact with other areas of social practice. He attempts to outline and contrast features of this within the current political and cultural context.  Responses to his ideas formed part of an on-line electronic forum held in collaboration with Glasgow School of Art.
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Artists Challenge - Lorna Miller
A cartoon page satirising the sheer stupidity, tedium and pretentiousness of Art Prizes/competitions and their contestants.  Damn there goes our chance to win the Turner prize!

Living in the Margin - David Appleman
A sensitive and thoughtful essay.  Appleman re-visits the now closed Woodlee psychiatric hospital and his memories move into a devastating critique of the de-personalisation of mental health treatment: with the new culture of change 'mental handicap' is now termed 'learning difficulties' to aid the process of budget cuts.
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Somebody's Falling - Jeremy Akerman
A short poignant story with subtly evoked themes of the impersonal nature of art education.
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Tales of the Great Unwashed - Ian Brotherhood
A fantastically funny mini-masterpiece from the new Flann O'Brien.  It tells the tale of a former paratrooper's doomed attempts to escape an encounter with the dark forces of evil in the form of a late night bus.  Read this and learn the spine tingling horror of a 'code-twenty four'.
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Signs of the Times - Robin Ramsay
A clear-sighted analysis traces the background history of the present British Government's economic policies and direction.  It sets out the fateful relationship between Labour's adopted economic theories and the demise of the manufacturing sector (and rise of the city of London).  The article was prescient in its warnings about the much vaunted 'knowledge economy' and is highly informative about the shifts and reasons why the neat economic models politicians have in their heads do not match reality.
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Something for Nothing? - Brighid Lowe
A personal account of how the changes in the funding of arts schools affects individual's actual practice.  The essay was originally a paper for 'The Laboratory' (the separate research arm of the Ruskin School of Drawing) and speaks of dominant models of success, contrasting 'purist' and 'careerist'.
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