Monday 2 May 2016


Sparse. Very sparse. That's my immediate reaction to Tramway's signature director's GI show.  
It's a big space - not as big as it used to be but still vast, and a challenge for artists. Very few can cope. The few include, in the past, David Mach, Tony Cragg, Douglas Gordon, Marina & Ulay, Glen Onwin, Boltanski, Kounrllis & Penone ...  
David Mach's Paper Parthenon 1990 Tramway 
View of Tramway 2016
This years show of 4 includes the venerable American textile artist Sheila HICKS, now 82 and still flying around the world to exhibit, last in Australia. A friend told me "She always travels with a hand held loom - even when flying!" 
I saw her work at the Whitney Biennial where a tower of wool reached up to the low ceiling. So I was hoping for a big impact installation at Tramway. Here she has a much bigger space & a higher ceiling to aim for, but sadly her installation of brightly coloured wool balls & cushions looks lost in Tramway. 
 SHEILA HICKS' tower seen via Martin Boyce's  pierced metal screens.
One idea works well. Hicks has inset the old tram tracks with multicoloured wools to great effect. 
Alexandra Bircken also focuses on the original tram tracks for her Trolley sculptures made from metal & intricate woven thread but again the works are too small, too thin. 
Bircken's Scaffolding with wheels in the tram tracks - but not very convincing,

 Lawrence Lek & Mika Rottenburg both utilse video. I have to say I really hated Mika's work - so perhaps good in that it produced so much emotion? Slave labour on a lettuce farm in Arizona, a rubber plant in India & a Chinese pearl warehouse plus a huge Amazon of a blonde woman with a big nose to make "an architectural portrait of crisscrossing assembly lines."  

Lek's video is devoted to a fictional last voyage of the QE3 as it returns to its birthplace in Glasgow. 
Constructed using digital fabrication & video game software, his work places the viewer in the role of a wandering observer encountering strange landscapes & seas. The ship's deserted interior looks like an architectural model - quite apt for Architectural Festival Year! But I question his use of GSA & the fire as a 'romantic' thread with a futuristic 'virtual' GSA home in QE3. All in bad out-of-focus video. 
Lek was born in Germany, lives in London. Mika is Argentinian, living in NY. I end with Bircken's zips - and more ZIPS. That's the trend. Zips are everywhere this season - in plastic bags, diagonal zips, zips open & shut .. or as here,  just hanging.

A quick romp thro the rest .......... 

Damien Hirst at the Hunterian


Modern Institute  Joanne Tatham & Tom O’Sullivan, also showing at Frieze in NY.

Velvet lobster at GOMA by Cosima von Bonin
GI Verdict? Better than last time, but needs to try harder. 

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