Sunday, 4 September 2016


JACKIE DONACHIE at Glasgow's GoMA with her exhibition:


Bruce Mclean would approve of JACKIE DONACHIE's use of his famous 1971 performance piece Pose Work for Plinths. 

Whereas Mclean's poses were assertive & ironic, Donachie compares & contrasts her own easy gestures & agile movements with those of her disabled sister who finds it all more of a challenge.  
Never has this concept been more effectively adapted or interpreted. 
Donachie's sister suffers from an inherited neurological genetic condition, Myotonic Dystrophy. We don't see them together, just their legs as they walk down a long hospital corridor. 
 But we hear about the problems of the disease from several patients of different ages, all sisters, one filmed on one screen, explaining about the problems of their condition, while their silent sibling sits immobile, occasionally blinking, on the other screen. 
 This very moving short 2 screen video, titled Hazel, from 2016 is at the heart of her exhibition at Glasgow's GOMA. 

Donachie has long addressed difficult social topics. This time her research was near at home, but it hasn't prevented her from casting an academic eye on the subject. 
A graduate of the Glasgow School of Art’s influential Environmental Art department which encouraged artists to work in a variety of public contexts outside the gallery space, she sets out to make a difference. 
She is one of a gifted group of GSA graduates who worked on the committee of Transmission Gallery, from the period around 1987-95 including Douglas Gordon, Nathan Coley, Richard Wright, Martin Boyce, Simon Starling, Roddy Buchanan etc ..... 
 All guys, with the exception of Donachie & Christine Borland, and all have made a name for themselves world wide. The pix above is from 1997 in Berlin. 

Donachie leapt from GSA to the US on a Fulbright fellowship, gaining her MFA in New York. 

Since then she has accomplished a great deal via her focus on the connection between art & science, (a great project was Tomorrow Belongs to Me, brilliantly described by Sam Stead) medicine, urban issues, car crowded towns, encouraging the use of bikes, and much more. 
GoMA's large 4th floor also contains some superb drawings (who knew Glasgow's lampposts could be so interesting!) 
plus piles of large scale sheet metal and a block or box of black gridded metal which  reference the ramps at ferries, and 2 years ago, but painted bright green, was placed as installations around Scotland including near the ferry port at Wemyss Bay. 
As I remember her, Donachie was tall, pretty, leggy, lanky even, determined, engaging, with a way way with words.

The whole GoMA installation is accompanied by bright orange structural bars - expensive to install here I am sure. Quite what to make of it all I am not sure. 

This very minimal installation does make viewers focus on the video, it's true, but the vast, almost empty space, seems to me a pity, a waste.
A public gallery situated right in the centre of Glasgow, GoMA provides a special opportunity to encourage & engage with the general public - who find it very difficult to get to grips with contemporary art. 

Donachie has a gift for words & text, and a terrific affinity for pop music. I rather wish she had used this chance to treat us to a richer experience.
However she has made an important contribution to a little known medical complaint, which will be discussed in a symposium in November. A great personal achievement to be proud of.  

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