Trauma at Dundee Contemporary Arts August 2001

From: Catherine George
Category: Exhibitions
Date: 26 August 2001


Dundee Contemporary Arts opened over a year ago to great press interest - a new flagship a light of culture in the darkness of the north. It seemed to the London orientated press that contemporary art had breached Hadrian's wall at last. So, finally an opportunity arises to visit this new hotbed of culture and I jump keenly trotting from the carpark on another rainy scottish summer day. Firstly there was the problem of finding it but Dundee is not a large town and I am only soggy rather than soaked as I pass the bingo hall and enter via the shop. Th problem really it that it feels like soemthing from London - or perhaps Glasgow has simply been transplanted here and like the man who had his hand replaced it simply doesn't fit. It is not that the cafe serving red onion tartlets seem out of place in a docks town or that noone was buying the contemporary design jewellry on sale or admiring the braveness of the architecture but that the exhibition 'Trauma' was so bad, so selfinvolved and undercurated, so reliant on the trite and obvious contemporary response to the 'theme', that it could not reach out into the community. It could not ever reach those of us drowning in the inward looking London scene. A pile of posters printed with a 'traumatic' phrase, a pile of hazard warning lamps all flashing at once, a 'sculpture' of rapid racking boarded over so that it no longer forms shelves... of what do these things speak? To whom do they address, well not me and I am a trained audience. The intensity of the art scene in London comes from it's concentration the thousands of hopefuls in Hackney trying to survive, Scottish art is never going to have this intensity becuase it does not have the population to create a market an audience but that does not mean it is worse it means the situarion is entirely different. It is profoundly wrong that the cafe was the best bit. It is profoundly wrong that it feels as though the funders and curators behind 'Trauma' and the DCA as a whole feel obliged to fly in "something really cutting edge". Don't, do something different, something brave, something more ANGUS.

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