Polygraphs is a group exhibition exploring truth, fiction and evidence in a complicated world. Centred around Abstract (2012), a two-channel video work by Berlin based filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl, gifted to Glasgow Museums’ collection last year, the exhibition is drawn entirely from Glasgow Museums’ collection.


Abstract, 2012 Hito Steyerl Two channel HD video with sound 7 minutes, 30 seconds Image CC 4.0 Hito Steyerl Image courtesy of the Artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York

Artists are often witness to a changing global environment and their role within that culture is to document, ask questions and create layers of meaning to engage audiences with current international discourses. Thus, Abstract provides a frame through which to encounter other artists interested in interrogating dominant historical narratives and our relationships to the arms trade, colonialism, the slave trade and feminism.

Polygraphs reflects GoMA’s long-standing interest in research and evidence based documentary artworks. The exhibition includes works from the last 100 years and poses questions about the relationship of museums to the histories, identities and politics that they represent. By re-displaying older works alongside more recent pieces the exhibition reactivates truths and fictions still relevant today.



The resource space and public programme for Polygraphs has been developed in conjunction with graphic designer Neil McGuire and Cyber-Crannog

Note: Abstract was presented by the Contemporary Art Society through the Collections Fund, 2015. It marks the first work by Hito Steyerl to enter a public collection in the UK

ARTISTS: Jane Evelyn Atwood, Muirhead Bone, Boyle Family, Gerard Byrne, Graham Fagen, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Beth Forde, Alasdair Gray, Ian Hamilton Finlay, David Hockney, Wyndham Lewis, Peter Kennard, kennardphillips, Barbara Kruger, Scott Myles, Anthony Schrag and Hito Steyerl

Greetings from Lanesville (still), 1976

Greetings from Lanesville (still), 1976


Please Turn Us On
28 July 2016 – 22 January 2017
Arthur Ginsberg with Video Free America
Heather Phillipson

Please Turn Us On places Glasgow at the centre of a dialogue between early video art and international counterculture. Stansfield/Hooykaas’ What’s It To You? is presented in direct conversation with three other projects that play on themes explored in this seminal, Glasgow-made work.

Elsa Stansfield (b. Glasgow, 1945, d. Amsterdam, 2004) and Madelon Hooykaas (b. Maartensdijk, 1942) worked at the genesis of time-based practice, with the pair quick to realise the potential of video as an art form and as a communication tool. Shown at Glasgow’s The Third Eye Centre for a week in 1975, What’s It To You? was the first installation of its kind ever to be seen in Glasgow. During its original showing the work combined recorded and live film with photography and text. It was truly an interactive work, with audience engagement at its very core. The public’s changing responses to being filmed and questioned gave the work a different meaning with each viewing.

Using a combination of media to offer multiple readings of the work became a staple throughout Stansfield/Hooykaas’ rich career. Keen not to have the authoritative voice within their work, rather they attempted to use new video tape technology to break down social hierarchies and democratise the act of looking at and making artworks. It was through these means that What’s It To You? put Glasgow in communication with other counterculture movements across the globe.

Similarly dynamic projects were taking place across America. In Greetings from Lanesville Videofreex brought their brand of guerrilla broadcasting to Upstate New York. Their Lanesville TV was the first localised, pirate television station in the world. It featured interviews with the rural community, audience phone-ins and dramatic news reports. Videofreex helped to create a portrait of the local community, made by the local community. This happened at a time of great social and political turmoil, when many people didn’t feel like their attitudes were being fairly represented by traditional media. Lanesville TV offered a much-needed alternative voice and paved the way for modern, user-generated broadcasting.

As Stansfield/Hooykaas and Videofreex worked with our shared public experiences, The Continuing Story of Carel and Ferd anticipated the camera’s ability to enter into the most personal parts of our lives. Between 1970 and 1972 director Arthur Ginsberg filmed the not-so-average daily lives of soon-to-be-wed Carel Rowe and Ferd Eggan. This precursor to reality television documents the couple’s changing desires and the drastic evolution of their relationship while living their lives in front of the camera. It is an early warning about the risks of living too close to an electronic medium.

Running through the exhibition is a new commission by London-based artist Heather Phillipson, bringing the issues raised by Stansfield/Hooykaas, Videofreex and Arthur Ginsberg into the contemporary. By focusing the historical elements of Please Turn Us On through her work, Phillipson suggests that despite the current ubiquitousness of personal filming equipment our understanding of its consequences hasn’t developed all that much in the last four decades.

Wolfgang Tillmans, Tag/Nacht, 2009 Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

Wolfgang Tillmans, Tag/Nacht, 2009 Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

Wolfgang Tillmans pictures from New World
Gallery 2
18 February – 7 August 2016

Gallery 2 is currently closed just now for the installation of Wolfgang Tillmans pictures from New World and will reopen to the public on 18 February. The exhibition is a presentation of works from the Turner Prize winning photographer’s series Neue Welt (New World) which were purchased for Glasgow Museums’ collection under the Art Fund International scheme (2007 -12).

Travelling beyond the artists’ beaten path, Wolfgang Tillmans pictures from New World questions how the world appears when viewed from outside one’s immediate vicinity. After spending the best part of a decade working on studio based abstract works, pictures from New World sees the artist returning to a more documentary style reminiscent of his output throughout nineties, this time however leaving (for the best part) his local haunts of London, Berlin and New York, instead heading to the Far East, Africa and South America.

Detail shot from We Love Real Life Scotland, 2006, Ross Sinclair, courtesy of the artist

Devils in the Making
Gallery 1
18 September 2015–28 February 2016

In 1996 Douglas Gordon became the first Scottish artist to win the prestigious Turner Prize. He was one of an already successful group of graduates from The Glasgow School of Art (GSA), who were exhibiting around the world to critical acclaim.That same year GoMA opened to the public with a collection that did not represent the work of these influential artists. Much criticism was leveled at the city by the artistic community as a result. Twenty years on GoMA regularly exhibits, commissions and collects works by artists based in Glasgow, many of whom trained at GSA. This exhibition showcases some of the works that have been made in the city during the intervening decades.

Devils in the Making will run in parallel with the Turner Prize opening 1st October at Tramway. This is the first time the Turner Prize, arguably the UK’s most prestigious contemporary art prize, will be held in Scotland.

“The wealth of artistic talent in Glasgow is astounding and I am very proud that Glasgow Museums plays its part in supporting contemporary artists. One of the ways we do this is by bringing contemporary artworks into our collection and displaying these works in our magnificent galleries and museums.

The Glasgow School of Art plays a significant role in establishing and maintaining Glasgow’s standing as an internationally recognised centre for contemporary art. One of Europe’s foremost art schools, GSA has nurtured and produced many of Scotland’s leading artists and, over the years, Glasgow Museums has had the fortune to add works by some of these artists to its collection, a selection of these works can be seen in this exhibition.

I hope that fellow Glaswegians will support our home-grown talent by visiting this exhibition and that visitors to the city will include GoMA in their itinerary.” Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life

On display outside GoMA, and lighting up Royal Exchange Square, will be Ross Sinclair’s imposing light installation ‘We Love Real Life Scotland’. Last seen 10 years ago on Glasgow’s City Chambers, ‘We Love Real Life Scotland’ is a collection of neon works displaying Sinclair’s trademark Real Life logo. The works are both celebratory and critical, asking just what it is to be Scottish – a question as pertinent now as it has ever been.

Sinclair, who trained at GSA and now teaches there, said about seeing the work again: “Things have changed immeasurably in this country since I made ‘We Love Real Life Scotland’ and it was shown for the first time round at the back of the City Chambers in 2005. It sometimes feels that politically, Scotland has moved forward a hundred years since then, not just ten. And, while it was important to set the work in a context of politics at that time, I feel it is now time to address a cultural context and I’m therefore delighted that it should be hanging on the front of Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art.”

Inside GoMA the exhibition will include a number of works by Glasgow trained artists who have won or who have been shortlisted for the Turner Prize.

Since the inception of the Turner Prize in 1984 Scotland has been strongly represented among the shortlisted artists. When Glasgow-based artist Douglas Gordon was awarded the prize in 1996 he was the first of five artists trained at The Glasgow School of Art to win. GSA has also produced and 30% of shortlisted artists since 2006.

Devils in the Making will include Douglas Gordon’s ‘A moment’s silence (for someone close to you)’, a work bought by Glasgow Museums in 2005. Gordon’s video and installation work is often based on a disruption of perception; by making his audience aware of their own fugitive subjectivity he questions how we give meaning to our experience of things.

In 2005, Glasgow-trained artist Simon Starling was awarded the Turner Prize for an exhibition featuring the work ‘Tabernas Desert Run’. Purchased by Glasgow Museums in 2005, the work consists of a modified bicycle used by Starling to cross the Tabernas Desert in Spain. During the journey the unusual powering method created a small amount of water that was collected in a bottle attached to the bike. It was then used to produce a watercolour of a prickly pear cactus, a plant this is not native to Spain but survives because of its sparing use of water.

Also on display, and bought by Glasgow Museums in 2006, ‘Our Love is Like the Earth, the Sun, the Trees and the Birth’(2006) by 2011 Turner Prize winner Martin Boyce is a fictional environment inspired by modernist design and urban landscape.

Devils in the Making will also feature works by Glasgow-trained artists shortlisted for the Turner Prize including Christine Borland, Karla Black, Jim Lambie, Nathan Coley and David Shrigley.

Devils in the Making artists: Claire Barclay, Beagles & Ramsay, Karla Black, Christine Borland, Martin Boyce, Roderick Buchanan, Nathan Coley, Nick Evans, Alex Frost, Douglas Gordon, Kenny Hunter, Torsten Lauschmann , James McLardy, Victoria Morton, Craig Mulholland, Toby Paterson , Jim Lambie, David Sherry, David Shrigley and Ross Sinclair

Earth gallery with a view of 'Journey to the End of the Night' 1972 by John Bellany, Glasgow Museums Collection

Earth gallery with a view of ‘Journey to the End of the Night’ 1972 by John Bellany, Glasgow Museums Collection

Glasgow Museums was saddened to hear of the passing of John Bellany on 29 August 2013.

John Bellany was one of the outstanding Scottish artists of the 20th century. His expressive figurative paintings influenced many painters who came after him. Glasgow Museums has 38 works in the collection by John including unique oils, works on paper and prints.

When GoMA opened in 1996 the north side of Gallery 2, then called the Water Gallery, was full of his work. This display included his powerful triptych Journey to the End of Night, oil on board, 1972. John was a son and grandson of fisherman from Port Seaton, Scotland. The Protestantism of this life is both challenged and reflected in this work which depicts extremes of terror and pleasure.

On the opposite wall hung five watercolors from John’s Addenbrooke Hospital series, these joyous and life affirming works were painted in his hospital bed in 1988 after a life saving liver operation.

In 2012 the astute private collectors Eric and Jean Cass gifted a Bellany painting Jean had commissioned for her husband Eric. This painting is titled “Dungeness” (1992) and was made to mark the gift of a life boat from Eric and Jean to the town.

I contacted John in 1999 to invite him to create an image of Jesus for the 21st century. A competitive competition won by the Glasgow sculptor Kenny Hunter. John graciously declined the invitation saying he would like to give the young ones a chance. Later he gifted a large oil painting to the collection, Untitled 1999. This seaside scene includes a crucifixion in the upper left area.

John was a talented and generous artist who will be missed but never forgotten. He lives on through his works and those in Glasgow Museum’s collection will be preserved for future generations to enjoy and admire.

Sean McGlashan

Curator of Contemporary Art
Glasgow Life/Glasgow Museums
Gallery of Modern Art

Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art and The Common Guild have made the final purchases after being awarded up to £1 million through Art Fund International, the Art Fund’s scheme which has assisted five museums to grow their collections of International Contemporary art over the past five years. A range of major works by some of the most celebrated contemporary artists from around the world has been added to Glasgow’s Collection during the project.

Photographs, films, performance and installation works by artists from Germany, North America, Ireland and Slovakia are among the final purchases. They include an important recent film called ‘Continuity’ by the Israeli-born, Berlin-based artist Omer Fast. The work was a highlight of the critically acclaimed dOCUMENTA 13 exhibition in Germany in 2012.

Other purchases include a performance by Slovakian artist Roman Ondák, a watercolour painting by American artist Spencer Finch and an installation, combining theories of Conceptual Art with the myth of the Loch Ness monster, by Irish artist Gerard Byrne.

Glasgow’s final purchase through Art Fund International is a substantial and unique collection of 15 photographs by the Turner Prize-winning artist Wolfgang Tillmans. A number of new displays at GoMA are being planned for these works to begin in October 2013.

Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life said: “These exciting purchases mark the end of what has been a hugely successful and beneficial 5 year project for the City of Glasgow’s Contemporary Art collections. The partnership between GoMA and the Common Guild ensured that works by artists based outside the UK were bought to provide essential context for works in the collection by artists associated with Glasgow.”

Katrina Brown, Director of The Common Guild said: “The Art Fund International scheme has truly been a once in a lifetime opportunity for Glasgow to develop its contemporary holdings and it has been the most exhilarating and exacting challenge over the last five years to do so in a way that was appropriate to the existent collection and the local context. The works that have been acquired are an enormous addition to what Glasgow has to offer to both residents and visitors alike, and we are hugely indebted to the Art Fund for the generosity and vision that made it possible.”

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund said: “Art Fund International has provided five UK galleries with a rare opportunity to build up new collections of international contemporary art.  Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art has taken on the challenge with great vision and enthusiasm to transform their existing holdings with several exceptional new acquisitions. They will be much enjoyed by Glasgow’s public and visitors”

For the full press release please open AFI-GoMA-1

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