In one of the free moments I had to wander around Glasgow on my own quite a few weeks ago now, I stumbled across a wonderful exhibition at The Gallery of Modern Art. I knew it would be a safe bet for some interesting artworks but I was surprised to find an exhibition that so suited my interests. Called ‘Ripples On The Pond’, after an old edition of the second-wave feminist magazine ‘Spare Rib’, the exhibition initially began from the desire to celebrate and promote 20 years of Scotland’s only women’s library archive and museum, based in Glasgow. Featuring 11 works from the library’s ‘21 Revolutions‘ series, the exhibition is designed to create a conversation between women’s work on paper and moving image and it has expanded greatly from the 11 original art pieces. There are a number of different mediums throughout the exhibition, from traditional paint to graphics and photography to film.
Commenting on, and sparking questions about, gender and media choice in relation to women’s practice and visibility, Ripples On The Pond was a fascinating exhibition on connectivity. As Katie Bruce, the curator, explains: ‘This was the inspiration for the title of the show as I wanted something that would relate to the feminist theme in the exhibition, but also open up the conversations around the women artists in the collection, their work and their relationships.’
Apparently the exhibition is meant to engage the viewer in conversations around female artists; we are meant to read, re-read, critique and rethink what we see. It is definitely an exhibition that should be seen more than once, so my enjoyment was limited by my own time constraints.
One artist – a photographer – that really caught my attention was Jo Spence (1934-92). She believed that the camera could be used to create a dialogue with ourselves, to reimagine who we are. Having recently partaken in a photography course, my interest in this field of art has increased, which has also been helped by a photography book a friend gave me, called Why It Does Not Have To Be In Focus: Modern Photography Explained. The first chapter focuses solely on self-portraits and, in stark contrast to Jo Spense, many of the photographers featured use the camera to conceal, rather than reveal, themselves.
The exhibition finished with a two-channel video entitled Ramallah/New York by Emily Jacir. Scenes in restaurants, travel agencies, salons, etc, from both cities are paired and constantly switched around so that it is almost impossible to distinguish which scenes were filmed in Ramallah and which were filmed in New York. This is an interesting commentary on the essential similarities in everyday life between two seemingly different places and cultures.
Ripples on the Pond is on at the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) until 3rd April 2016. Aside from being a wonderfully thought-provoking exhibition that featured many contemporary female artists, it was also full of surprises from the different mediums and ideas that occurred throughout.