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The Shock of Victory

18 September 2015 until 1 November 2015

With Alec Finlay, In the Shadow of the Hand, Mairéad McClean, Antonis Pittas and Oraib Toukan

The Shock of Victory is a curated programme consisting of an exhibition, symposium and digital publication. Taking place exactly one year after the Scottish Independence Referendum of 18 September 2014, the programme proposes artistic approaches, techniques, provocations and motivations in a post-referendum reality departing from Scotland, but certainly not constrained by it.

The programme takes its title from the pivotal essay ‘The Shock of Victory’ from 2007, by anarchist and scholar David Graeber, in which he argues that protesters often have difficulty in recognising their moments of success. However, looking beyond activist tactics, can we imagine what ‘victory’ would mean, by focusing instead on artistic practices? What if we were to pay attention to uncertainty, obscurity, hesitancy, and failure as productive artistic mechanisms and new means to think through political events?

The Shock of Victory includes works by In the Shadow of the Hand, an artist duo based in Glasgow consisting of Virginia Hutchison and Sarah Forrest, which allude to an initial inability of response and the materialisation political questioning can become.

Antonis Pittas, a Greek artist living and working in The Netherlands, brings an existing collection work from the Van Abbemuseum into CCA along with new works that undermine notions of display, gestures of the political hand and the recycling of public language.

Artist and poet Alec Finlay is the ‘author’ of a new work: a found poem composed entirely from public responses to the Smith Commission, allowing multiple voices to engage in a complex and conflicted discourse. The resulting document seeks a political settlement beyond conventional political language. Finlay merely collects, reshapes, and adds space, allowing resonance to emerge.

As part of an ongoing endeavour that includes a forthcoming publication on contested modernism in Palestine, Oraib Toukan displays a large series of photographs taken of various buildings and urbanscapes. She focuses on fundamental aspects of ‘looking’ and ‘seeing’ architecture in relation to ongoing transformations in the Palestinian political reality.

Mairéad McClean’s No More brings us to the Northern Ireland of the early 1970s where the internment policy imprisoned McClean’s father. As an attempt to reclaim the memories of that troubling past, No More shows a bodily response to a political act.

As part of The Shock of Victory, CCA will issue a series of essays, responses and critiques on the larger potential of a post-referendum reality. Artist Michael White will reflect on his personal experiences before, within and after the referendum. Emma Balkind considers the use of the term ‘commons’ as a means to encourage discussions around ethics and accessibility. Writer Nicholas Laughlin, based in Trinidad and Tobago, reads ‘Independent Thought’ by Lloyd Best from 1967, pulling this into our time from a different place, suggesting new ways of publication and distribution.

All texts will be distributed digitally as PDF and e-reader material on CCA’s website during the exhibition.


The Shock of Victory

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Alec Finlay, A Better Tale to Tell, 2015.

Alec Finlay, A Better Tale to Tell, 2015.