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24 Jan 2017

Forms of Action, an exploration of socially-engaged art, opens CCA Glasgow's 2017 exhibition programme

Daniel Godínez Nivón, Assembly, 2010

Forms of Action
Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow


Kim Dhillon, Adelita Husni-Bey, Daniel Godínez Nivón, Katia Kameli, Dimitri Launder, Victoria Lomasko, Asunción Molinos Gordo Saturday 28 January – Sunday 12 March 2017 Preview: Friday 27 January, 7pm-9pm Tue-Sat: 11am-6pm / Sun: 12noon-6pm / Free



CCA Glasgow
350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow
G2 3JD
United Kingdom

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Forms of Action will explore current international developments in socially engaged art practices, looking at both form and content. It presents a diverse series of approaches that transform the role of artists in society. This exhibition forms part of a significant shift from a more traditional understanding of art and its usual environment, towards an understanding of art in the cut and thrust of ordinary life.

Participating artists will address a diverse range of issues, including, but not limited to, the socio-cultural implications of food and agriculture; second wave feminism; material studies; written language and radical gardening, using storytelling, sound, photography, performance, graphic reportage and other creative interventions.

Seven artists will present work in the exhibition, all addressing social issues that have relevance in Glasgow and connect with themes emerging from the CCA programme. The works indicate how artists are dealing with social urgencies through art on an international scale, with connections to issues and creative engagement in Scotland.

Kim Dhillon's We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live is a new CCA commission for this exhibition. The mixed-media installation explores the legacy of DIY, feminist collectives in the US and Europe publishing non-sexist children's literature in the 1970s. Within the main gallery space, the work invites children, with or without their parents, to read, touch, or otherwise engage with a library of titles anthologized in A Guide to Non-Sexist Children's Books (1976). Dhillon will also present a series of discussions in Glasgow Women's Library.

Adelita Husni-Bey's film After the Finish Line (2015) explores how the concept of competition, vital to the current socio-economic system, has come to construct the present notion of the American Dream. Considering how the aspirations of marginalised groups are structured around narratives of success in the sports industry and the effects produced by an individualistic notion of failure, the film was produced in collaboration with a group of teenage athletes who have all experienced injury as a result of their respective sporting activities.

Daniel Godínez Nivón, a multimedia artist based in Mexico City, will present his series Tequiografias. This collaboration between Godínez Nivón and the Assembly of Indigenous Migrants of Mexico City consists of a series of monographs made by students, through tequio – a communal system of organisation expressed in collaborative practices, mandatory and unpaid work – which aims to offer information about the lifestyle and culture of the indigenous communities living in Mexico City.

Katia Kameli
will present the third chapter of her ambitious project Stream of Stories, an ongoing body of work in which the artist interrogates the origins of La Fontaine's classic collection of fables, a major influence in French culture. For Forms of Action, this will be presented in two parts: an installation in CCA composed of videos, texts and iconographies, and a performance at Govanhill Baths in collaboration with members of the community, who will perform as the animals in the fables, and Glasgow School of Art students, who will produce masks and costumes.

People's Apothecary: Glasgow is part of a long term research project developed by Artist-Gardener Dimitri Launder using networks, shared tools and planting propaganda to archive living medicinal plants and remedies relating to their urban context. A newly-commissioned circular mounted print from this project will be on display in the gallery. He will also explore the plants around Glasgow to encourage people to think about their relationship with nature.

Victoria Lomasko will present a selection of black and white drawings from Drawing Lessons, a programme she designed especially for juvenile prisons in the first experiment of regular alternative education for prisoners in Russia. In 2010, Lomasko began working with young inmates, together with non-governmental human rights organisation Center for Prison Reform who provide social and legal assistance.

Asunción Molinos Gordo will create a Scottish edition of her work Contestador, commissioned by CCA. This project explores the ways in which bureaucratic practices affect small farmers and have an impact on their everyday activity. Contestador (Answerphone) is inspired by language employed by officialdom when communicating with farm workers. It consists of an audio piece operated using a phone number, as if it were a real answering service. Through a series of disparate menus and options, the listener is led through the maze of painstaking paperwork that the farming community is forced to deal with as modern agricultural policies impact on the economic and cultural role of the ordinary farmer.

The exhibition seeks not to document outcomes but rather illustrate practices. The main focus is the implementation of art and creativity as a way to address issues in society. Forms of Action's main interest is in civic commitment; the goal is to interrogate our current condition by asking how art can be used as a socially motivated and motivating tool for change.

Viviana Checchia, Public Engagement Curator at CCA said: 'For me, there is no distinction between art and life. This exhibition represents a very broad understanding of art. I imagine Forms of Action as a way of stimulating local practitioners and audiences by presenting a diverse series of approaches - it's not about the when, where and what but about how we approach society through art. I hope this will spark discussion around these urgent issues and stimulate the already existing engagement of people in Glasgow.'

CCA is currently expanding its institutional vision to repurpose itself according to the emerging urgencies related to engagement. The first priority is to merge different visions coming from around the world, and create temporary, but significant, platforms where a fruitful cultural exchange can be achieved.

Francis McKee, Director of CCA said: 'This is a large ambitious exhibition that presents a series of artists who have socially engaged art practices, making visible in the gallery the ideas that have fuelled our public engagement programmes in CCA and with our partners across the city. It is timely in so many ways in the coming year and it will resonate beyond the boundaries of a more traditional exhibition.'

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of events across the city. These events will focus on the sociological and political theories that can be related to the development of socially engaged art practices.

Solidarity Against Neoliberal Extremism Collective present Neoliberalism v Democracy – Waking Up to Reality at The Renfield Centre in Feburary, a two day event bringing together activists, academics and artists to work for a progressive post-capitalist future. Also in February, artist Doris Denekamp hosts a workshop on survival in a city. When it's raining you can take shelter at McDonalds invites inventive and streetwise Glaswegians to think about survival in contemporary cities and introduces Denekamp's Handbook for the City Wilderness, a collection of tips and tricks for living in the fringes of big cities. At the end of the month, Pascal Gielen will discuss the relationship between art, politics and civil space in the creative city, and how activists and creative workers respond to policy via alternative ways of self-organisation.

In March, two artists involved in the exhibition present events in Govanhill Baths and Glasgow Women's Library. Katia Kameli's Stream of Stories takes to the stage in Govanhill Baths on 11 March, while Kim Dhillon and Glasgow Women's Library co-host a series of reading groups of 1970s feminist children's books and contemporary radical children's literature.

Also in March, Fernando Garcia-Dory and Yvonne Billimore present a discussion on Inland in the Cabrach, a two year project with Fernando Garcia-Dory, Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Frontiers in Retreat, and Cabrach inhabitants and farmers, which has connected with rural development agents working in the area to look at the Land Reform Act of Scotland, and its legal and political implications, in relation to possible applications within the rural community.

A publication accompanying the exhibition will launch on 15 February. The Forms of Action publication presents new perspectives on the current development of socially engaged art practices. It aims to re-assess the current terminology used when talking about engagement in and beyond the walls of art institutions. The publication presents a range of views on socially engaged artistic practice, from freelance curators working on ground-breaking projects, to para-institutional curators working in their own context and embedded within the community, as well as that of institutional curators trying to intervene socially in the structure of their institution.

Forms of Action is generously supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation; Acción Cultural España; Alliance Française; Embassy of Spain and Institut Français Royaume-Uni.

Forms of Action

Kim Dhillon, Adelita Husni-Bey, Daniel Godínez Nivón, Katia Kameli, Dimitri Launder, Victoria Lomasko, Asunción Molinos Gordo

Saturday 28 January – Sunday 12 March 2017
Preview: Friday 27 January, 7pm-9pm
Tue-Sat: 11am-6pm / Sun: 12noon-6pm / Free
Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3JD
For full details, please see


Neoliberalism v Democracy
Sat 11 – Sun 12 Feb, 10am, The Renfield Centre, Free but ticketed
When it's raining you can take shelter at McDonalds
Mon 13 Feb, 6pm, CCA, Free but ticketed
Forms of Action publication launch
Wed 15 Feb, 6.30pm, CCA, Free but ticketed
Creative or Common City? Civic or Civil Society?
Tue 28 Feb, 6.30pm, CCA, Free but ticketed
Inland Scotland – Talk
Fri 3 Mar, 3pm, CCA, Free but ticketed
Kim Dhillon, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live
Thu 9, 16, 23 & 30 Mar, 5.30pm, Glasgow Women's Library, Free but ticketed
Katia Kameli, Stream of Stories
Sat 11 Mar, 4pm, Govanhill Baths, Free but ticketed