Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Speaking in Tongues – Sonia Boyce / Pavel Buchler / Susan Hiller

CCA, Glasgow until March 23rd.
Four stars
It's the sound of clock-clacking typewriter keys that strikes you first stepping into this three-way split of a show which, in different ways, reflects on the colour of memory. In the case of all three artists, who have a long history with the CCA building when it housed the Third Eye Centre, it reveals – or not - how that memory, collective or otherwise, can be moulded, shaped and customised to order, be it through preservation, wilful negation or else, in Boyce's case, via a gloriously messy reclaiming of half-hidden pop-cultural detritus.

The typing noises come from Buchler's ''I am going to use this projector', in which a cassette recorder hung on the wall plays a recording of someone typing out a transcription of the rollingly endless text that hangs next to it. Hiller too shows how free-association can be harnessed in 'Measure by Measure Section II', which preserves the ashes of paintings burnt by Hiller in a series of jars and containers. As with the framed diary pages of Buchler's 'Idle Thoughts', in which the same pages are written over again and again until the newest present effectively obliterates the past, Hiller's piece tantalises about what's being hidden even as it creates something afresh.

It is Boyce's piece, 'The Devotional Collection', however, that remains the most immediate and affectingly joyous example of how scraps of the past captured in a record or a on a magazine cover can shape an entire culture. Against one wall, rows of artifacts from black women in music are lined up, moving from Amazulu to Winifred Atwell, Betty Boo to Neneh Cherry, Mylene Klsass to Cleo Laine, Sade to the Saturdays and beyond. These are women who found their voices, and in turn gave voice to others in a way that's gloriously refreshed every time the needle hits the groove.

The List, February 2014


ends

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