Neil Mulholland, 'Aperto Scotland' (Flash Art, 01/2002)

‘Aperto’ is a Flash Art ‘virtual’ exhibition curated to highlight the art currently being shown in a particular city or region: It will soon be available for viewing on Flash Art’snew web site.

As you all know by now, when people talk about ‘Contemporary Scottish Art,’ they really mean art in Glasgow. The reason for this situation is that most artists and galleries are based in Glasgow, and it’s less expnsive to live there than the capital. New spaces such as Generator and Dundee Contemporary Arts shifted some attention northwards to Dundee, while Edinburgh slumbered under Czarist chandeliers annexed from the dirty locals by the polite, discursive inheritors of Miss Jean Brodie. The cultural imperialists of Edinburgh seemed to keep getting it wrong, stretching upwards to the carefully cultivated and evaluated IKEA art of Scandinavia promoted by institutions such as Protoacademy (a path long since exhausted by Glasgow artists). This redefined model of Scottish art is one interested in ‘debate’ and ‘exchange,’ a model that wants to resist ‘definitions’ and ‘traditional’ role. It seems to be recovering rhizomatic ground trod by Transmission Gallery during the late 1980s when Glasgow was a hotbed of political activity and dispute. In Edinburgh, this feels stimulated and dated. It was into this perfidious environment of second rate Caesers form the pages of Svetonius that rebels introduced a dream machine. Nuepop International daringly recaptured the old town by climbing its steep and craggy sides in the dead air of night. Still, in the sticky enclaves of medieval Edinburgh, Dr, Neupop, Jason Hertzmark, and a host of local luminaries developed a glitzy International Festival soiree at Collective Gallery and a display at the Bongo Club in New Street. Neupop promises greater egalitarianism, a non-hierarchal network; anyone from Milan or the Isle of Mann can take part, and it shows. Dr. Neupop celebrates surreptitious histories of hallucinatory patterns and predatory Maoist collectivism that he believs are suppressed by Scottish art world professionilism and its attendant bogus ‘glocalism.’ Hertzmark’s work draws on a wide range of sources, including a printed transcript of conversations with his mother., and a computer designed by his father in the early 1980s. like late Soviet art, Neupop exhibitions are dirty and outlandish, often heavily politicized affairs that show real promise.

Central Scotland took in over 20 Manx pence during the summer general election when artists-without-a-portfolio Charisma (Lucy Mckenzie and Keith Farquhar) refashioned, with incredible instinct and élan, one of Lord Mandelson of Rio’s trips to Brazil, producing a commemorative 12-inch record sleeve. Charisma have been swirling on the periphery of a silent crusade conducted by associates such as Ronnie Heeps of Dennistoun, who closets ghostly pop officials in vainglorious Tekno-kolor, and Edinburgh’s Archie Webb, who casts indestructible workers socks in bronze. Charisma’s art marks a real challenge to the good neo modernist aesthetic mores that Scottish art has unfortunately become known for. It’s also good to see self- initiated activities continuing without the support of public funding bodies and their pernicious cultural policies. In the summer, Flourish Nights at Robertson Street, Glasgow, were field days organised by Mckenzie, Alex Frost, Julian Kildear and Sophie Macpherson, among others, sporting the anti – mode of the committed. A number of artists were invited to perform or display works in progress to a man-made audience.