Ruth Ewan: We Could Have Been Anything That We Wanted to Be and It’s Not Too Late to Change

When

Fri, 3 September 2021 - Sat, 23 October 2021

Monday - Saturday: 11am – 4pm

Where

Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee - Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee, 13 Perth Road, DD1 4HT

Further info

Cost: Free

Book

Cooper Gallery website

Type: Exhibition

Ruth Ewan, We Could Have Been Anything That We Wanted to Be, 2011. Installed at Cooper Gallery, 2021. Photo courtesy the artist.

Cooper Gallery’s major five-chapter exhibition and event project The Ignorant Art School: Five Sit-ins towards Creative Emancipation strides forward this autumn with a timely new exhibition by internationally celebrated Scottish artist Ruth Ewan.

Indexed by Dundee’s historical connection with the 1789 French Revolution, We Could Have Been Anything That We Wanted to Be and It’s Not Too Late to Change brings together evocative manifestations of revolutionary time with the creative energy of dissent. Featuring a decimal clock especially installed on the public façade of Cooper Gallery, a virtual and physical perpetual Republican Calendar and an immersive installation How Many Flowers Will Make the Spring?, Ewan’s exhibition offers us a transcendent moment resonating with dissent and solidarity.

Resetting time is an abiding and representative leitmotif of revolution and 1789 is its quintessential expression. Desiring to introduce a new ‘civil era’, the French Revolution secularised and rationalised time by abolishing the 24 hour day in favour of a decimalised 10 hour day and by renaming every month of the year to reflect not the names of Gods or Kings but nature, science and the labouring classes. Inherently political, this revolutionary reclaiming of time rings loud and clear in We Could Have Been Anything That We Wanted to Be and It’s Not Too Late to Change.

Featuring a new ambitious installation by Ewan, How Many Flowers Will Make the Spring?, weaves together oral histories and the personal recollections of activists involved in public moments of dissent with an indoor meadow-like landscape made of dried grasses and plants. Channelling the natural symbolism of the French Republican Calendar How Many Flowers Will Make the Spring? asks us to embrace liberty and freedom not as individualistic goals nor as distant utopian aims, but as collective trans-historic struggles to which we can all contribute and effect social change.

“As flowers turn toward the sun, by dint of a secret heliotropism the past strives to turn toward that sun which is rising in the sky of history.” (Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History IV, 1940)

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