Shifting focus of the traditional centres of contemporary art : Scotland’s evolving position from periphery to prominence
My thesis considers the distinctive characteristics of contemporary artistic production and display in Scotland from the 1960s to the present. The main objective is to make manifest the diversification of global sites of contemporary art away from traditional centres by examining less exposed aspects of art practice in Scotland. My methodology is driven by a set of case studies of artist-run initiatives (ARIs), which provide models of enquiry into alternative methods of production and display of contemporary art and that demonstrate the role of ARIs in producing art scenes, and not merely representing those that already exist. I focus on counter-histories of self-organised ARIs and their legacies, and adopt a genealogical approach to examine how recent praxis and infrastructures came into existence and how their initial impetus intersected with their historical conditions. Anthony Giddens’ structuration theory is employed to examine local forms of power and infrastructure, as well as the wider, global structures of the art world. The emphasis is on how ARIs and established institutions can and do negotiate with each other and in recognising the interpenetration of different scales of art institutions. I apply a bifurcated approach in order to bring Scotland into dialogue with anthropological discussions of cultural globalisation. I ask how locality, nationalism and globalisation are configured in (visual) culture generally and as applied specifically to a Scottish context. This is underpinned by a consideration of Scottish Devolution as a disintegration of hierarchical domination, which correlates to the ideologies of artist-run practice. Finally, I propose the eradication of top-down delivery in favour of horizontal distributions of knowledge and practice via self-organisation.