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Book Review: Sarah Lowndes, Social Sculpture

Art, Performance and Music in Glasgow

A social history of independent practice, exhibitions and events since 1971

The story of contemporary art is being written every day, just not always where you might expect it. In her book, Social Sculpture, the multi-talented columnist and critic Sarah Lowndes, tells the story of Glasgow, the city where she studied at the Glasgow School of Art and where she herself works today as a teacher. In this city, in 1993, she founded the magazine Swing, the club Stiletto and the gallery-shop Echo Park.
Starting back in the early 70's, the author chronicles Glasgow's art and club scene up until the present day. In her second essay, she studies the beginnings of the visual art and music scene and their development in this fast-growing metropolis. As in many other European industrial centres, this Scottish city went through a major economic crisis about thirty years ago, which led people to question contemporary society and the social order. In this climate of unemployment and social tension, a powerful energy was produced on the art scene, both on an institutional level and, above all, in the lively and ever-changing underground scene.
Sarah Lowndes' work is based on the theories developed by Joseph Beuys in the seventies, which state that each person has a social responsibility and can contribute to the structure and the shape of our society. As Joseph Beuys claims: "Every human being is an artist, a freedom being, called to participate in transforming and reshaping the conditions, thinking and structures that shape and condition our lives".
The art and music scenes are at the centre of this "social history" of Glasgow, which looks at the topic from both a political and a literary perspective and is complemented by numerous interviews carried out by the author herself. The research can be read either as a novel, or as a never-ending story- a story, which is written on flyers and set in clubs and galleries. The author ironically describes her work as the best tourist guide for visitors to the city and claims in an interview: "I guess the main audience of the book is the people () in other cities who are also trying to make something happen on a grassroots level".

The 424-page book (containing 48 pages of black and white illustrations) was published this year in english by the british publishing house Stopstop.

ISBN 1 902052 02 1

Text: Mathieu Ducollet
Translation: Cristina Marasti

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