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17 Sep 2015

The Shock of Victory opens at CCA on the anniversary of the Scottish Referendum

a better tale to tell, Alec Finlay, 2015.

The Shock of Victory
CCA Glasgow


Saturday 19 September - Sunday 1 November Preview: Friday 18 September, 7pm-9pm Tue-Sat: 11am-6pm // Sun: 12noon-6pm Free entry


+44 141 352 4900

CCA Glasgow
350 Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow, G2 3JD

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Opening exactly one year after the Scottish Independence Referendum, The Shock of Victory is a curated programme consisting of an exhibition, symposium and digital publication.

The programme takes its title from the pivotal essay 'The Shock of Victory' by anarchist and scholar David Graeber, in which he argues that protesters often have difficulty in recognising their moments of success. Looking beyond such activist tactics, can we imagine what 'victory' would mean, by focusing instead on artistic practices? What if we were to pay attention to uncertainty, obscurity, hesitancy, and failure as productive artistic mechanisms and new means to think through political events? The Shock of Victory proposes artistic approaches, techniques, provocations and motivations in a post-referendum reality.

The exhibition includes works by Alec Finlay, In the Shadow of the Hand, Mairéad McClean, Antonis Pittas and Oraib Toukan.

Artist and poet Alec Finlay is the 'author' of a new work: a found poem composed entirely from public responses to the Smith Commission, allowing multiple voices to engage in a complex and conflicted discourse. The resulting document seeks a political settlement beyond conventional political language. Finlay merely collects, reshapes, and adds space, allowing resonance to emerge.

In the Shadow of the Hand are an artist duo based in Glasgow consisting of Virginia Hutchison and Sarah Forrest. Their work alludes to an initial inability of response and the materialisation political questioning can become.

Mairéad McClean's No More brings us to the Northern Ireland of the early 1970s where the internment policy imprisoned McClean's father. As an attempt to reclaim the memories of that troubling past, No More shows a bodily response to a political act.

Antonis Pittas, a Greek artist living and working in The Netherlands brings an existing collection work from the Van Abbemuseum into CCA along with new works that undermine the notions of display, gestures of the political hand and a recycling of public language.

As part of an ongoing endeavour that includes a forthcoming publication on contested modernism in Palestine, Oraib Toukan displays a large series of photographs taken of various buildings and urbanscapes. She focuses on fundamental aspects of 'looking' and 'seeing' architecture in relation to ongoing transformations in the Palestinian political reality.

On 25 September, CCA and the University of Edinburgh host a symposium allowing for a timely re-consideration of the complexities of the relations between alternative and established (art) institutions that might have been sparked by political moments such as the Referendum. The underpinning emphasis is on the 'organisational turn', a shift from hierarchical to self-organised models of organisation. In particular the focus is on the potency of radical (artistic) practices and ideas, which propose imaginative ways of organising – collectivism, anarchism, activism, networks, and self-organising.

The panel comprises of international and local curators, artists and academics including In the Shadow of the Hand, Sacha Kahir, Latitudes, Angeliki Roussou, Caleb Waldorf and WHW (What, How and For Whom?).

CCA will also be publishing a series of essays, responses and critiques on the larger potential of a post-referendum reality. Artist Michael White will reflect on his personal experiences before, within and after the referendum. Emma Balkind considers the use of the term 'commons' as a means to encourage discussions around ethics and accessibility. Writer Nicholas Laughlin, based in Trinidad and Tobago, reads 'Independent Thought' by Lloyd Best from 1967, pulling this into our time from a different place, and suggesting new ways of publication and distribution. All texts will be distributed digitally as PDF and e-reader material on CCA's website.

During the run of the exhibition, there will be a forum in the CCA gallery with contributions by Alistair Fraser (School of Social and Political Science, University of Glasgow), Joanna Peace and Counter-info Lab. Screenings include The Weeping Meadow (2004) by Theo Angelopoulos and Group Portrait with Explosives (2014) by Declan Clarke.

Furthermore, within CCA's new public engagement programme, a Kids' Parliament will be developed as a creative project within The Shock of Victory. The project will encourage children aged 5-11 to discuss the concept and format of the most important organism devoted to decision making: Parliament. In collaboration with Hyndland After School Club and under the facilitation of Richy Carey, young people will become the active protagonists of this project. During a visit from their local MP, participants will get an insight to how Parliament works and will then start their discussions about how their Parliament might work. The Kids' Parliament aims to facilitate a forum whereby children are encouraged to voice opinions on a broad range of issues, and which promotes the positive impact political engagement can have on everyday situations.