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Sunday, 28 May 2017

Heatwave in an Art Gallery

On Friday we made the decision to head to the city rather than fry ourselves on deck. So we headed from Troon Marina to the centre of Glasgow as the sun burnt down upon us and temperatures reached Mediterranean levels. Although we braved the heat to take in the Cathedral, Necropolis, and the Provand's Lordship it was only inside the art galleries (of which Glasgow has a multitude) that we found relief from the baking temperatures.

It has to be said that Glasgow likes its art gritty and the ends of so many buildings are now daubed with street art murals that we found fascinating like this one at the University of Strathclyde:

In the aftermath of the appalling bombing at Manchester arena only a few days before, we thought the Polygraph Exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art particularly pertinent. It is centred around a two channel video by the German film maker and visual artist, Hito Steyerl, in which she explores the death of her friend in Turkey. Dissecting evidence to separate truth from fiction in a complex world seemed to be the theme for all the exhibits. In the video itself Steyerl traces the casings from the bullets that killed her friend back to the premises of Lockheed Martin in Berlin. Her evidence claimed that it had supplied the weapons to Turkey through the German Government; state complicity unravelled; politics meeting the personal. The theme continued with for instance black and white photographs of the elderly and vulnerable housed in a hostel for the homeless in the city; politics again affecting individual lives.

At Manchester is it too glib to blame the reprehensible actions of one suicide bomber on the delusions of extremism? Are foreign policy, cutting police numbers, a lack of proper employment opportunities for the young from disadvantaged sectors and/or a failure to address radicalisation of some within our multi-cultural society, also to blame for the deaths at the arena of 22 innocent people, many just children?

For the first time ever, I found myself wanting to concur with Trump when he starkly referred to those responsible for the atrocity as losers. Yet as the exhibition in Glasgow pointed out, life isn't that simple. After all this was a US President who just days before had met with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and, like Theresa May only a few months earlier, sought to agree yet another arms deal. But what are those arms being used for? Isn't it Saudi Arabia that has been indiscriminately shelling in Yemen, killing thousands of innocent civilians including children and by virtue of its blockades caused widespread hunger and a shortage of medicines and other supplies? 

Individuals all over the world suffer because political decisions have far reaching and often unintended consequences. The world has become a very complicated place but it behoves no politician well to ignore the fact that people not profit are inevitably at the end of the chain of events started by their decisions.


  1. I think the Hito Steyrel exhibit sounds so relevant and provocative. Tracing the bullet casings back to their source shows an extraordinary insight into the interconnections of state actions and responsibilities. Obviously The action of the suicide bomber in Manchester was reprehensible. But like you, I think there are larger factors at play. That's why I can't agree with Trump's characterization of the perpetrators as "losers," because I think he means it only in a personal sense. They are innately losers (probably in part because they are Muslims). He cannot admit here ( as with so many problems, e.g. Health care, global warming, Islam, etc) that these issues are complex and multi-faceted. ("Who knew health care was so hard?"). And as for his recent actions on the world stage, don't get me started.

    Sorry if I high-jacked your post. I really thought the whole thing was really interesting. And now I want to go to Glasgow!

    1. Don't feel hijacked at all, especially as you make some interesting points. Needless to say Theresa May and co have been quick to silence any suggestion by the opposition of those wider factors to which we both refer, preferring the age old tactic of trying to rally people against a foreign enemy within and so gain support for their cause in our election battle. Fortunately the polls/focus groups so far suggest that the attack in Manchester has done little to affect voters' leanings one way or the other.

  2. I was in Glasgow as a teenager and can only really remember the most divine crab and sweet corn soup! I would love to go again.

    As for "loser", the term unfortunately for me, is yet another example of Trump's trite vocabulary. My heart breaks daily for whatever is happening to our country and our world.

    1. You missed out on its deep fried Mars Bars then!
      And yes he does seem to have a very limited vocabulary.