Public engagement project

CURRENT | 不合时宜 : Contemporary Art from Scotland

A two-year four-phase contemporary art exhibition and forum programme, showcasing for the first time in China the distinctiveness of contemporary art made in Scotland, its grass-roots spirit and its keen debates with the social and political dimensions of art and culture.

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Start date

June 2015

Completion date

August 2015

Organised by: Cooper Gallery DJCAD University of Dundee in partnership with the British Council

Curated by Cooper Gallery in collaboration with curators and art organisations in China and organised in partnership with the British CouncilCURRENT | 不合时宜 : Contemporary Art from Scotland is a two-year four-phase contemporary art exhibition and forum programme, showcasing for the first time in China the distinctiveness of contemporary art made in Scotland, its grass-roots spirit and its keen debates with the social and political dimensions of art and culture.


Poster Club: Wheat, Mud, Machine
Edgar Schmitz: Surplus Cameo Decor: Sindanao 2 
28 June – 9 August 2015
Exhibition Preview: 27 June 2015


Shanghai Forum Series #1 
Speakers: Simon Groom, Terry Smith, Wang Nanming and What, How & for Whom/WHW
27 June 2015

Poster Club
Anne-Marie Copestake
Frances Davis (Cooper Gallery Group Critical Writing)
28 June – 31 July 2015

Photos from the launch of CURRENT: Contemporary Art from Scotland at Shanghai Himalayas Museum on 27 June.

Read the CURRENT newsletter from 22 July.

On 29 July Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited the CURRENT exhibitions and saw performances by Artist in Residence Anne-Marie Copestake and Writer in Residence Frances Davis at Shanghai Himalayas Museum. 

The present is the only moment that ever matters.

Under this apparent simplicity, the past and the future are rescinded and in their wake only this perpetually cogent moment is perceived and acknowledged.

Playing off its Chinese title 不合时宜 (Untimely) and drawing upon Roland Barthes succinct aphorism “The contemporary is the untimely”, CURRENT questions the political, social and economic discourses that contest this present moment and its apparition as culture.

Immersed in the excessive flow of money, goods and people that constitute the inflating transnational bubble, the ‘contemporary’ revokes the multiplicity of history in favour of a single all encompassing image; now. With this grandiose claim that only this moment is essential, the ‘contemporary’ acts as the crucial fiction for indexing how culture is valued, exchanged and consumed. And it is this fiction that privileges the ‘contemporary’ as the only ground capable of legitimising the broad spectrum of theoretical positions and critical observations determining what is relevant and of course, valuable.

In navigating the flux of the transnational, the ‘contemporary’ offers an affective register for defining a fiction of unity. This is also inscribed in the transnational perception of Chinese contemporary art. After exploding onto the international scene, Chinese contemporary art transmogrified from a plurality of practices into an identifiable ‘aesthetic regime’ by the use of ‘contemporary’ as its stabilising prefix. Through showing contemporary artworks from Scotland in China, CURRENT brings this fictive function of the contemporary into sharp relief.

To provoke a sustained critique on the ‘contemporary’, CURRENT holds these two images of the ‘contemporary’ in proximity, revealing in the words of Barthes, an ‘untimely’ and displaced temporality. Un-anchored from their social and cultural context, these two iterations of the ‘contemporary’ are remediated under the hypothetical universality of the transnational. In this geographical and discursive move, CURRENT challenges how the ‘contemporary’ functions and ascribes legitimacy.

Showcasing artworks by artists of different generations, CURRENT emphasises the complexity of practices thriving in Scotland. Defined by originality and risk-taking this complexity resists, subverts and transforms how art and culture are stereotypically seen, valued and understood on the international stage.

Including solo exhibitions by Bruce McLean, Poster Club (Anne-Marie Copestake, Charlie Hammond, Tom O'Sullivan, Nicolas Party, Ciara Phillips and Michael Stumpf), Edgar Schmitz, Ross Sinclair, Lucy Skaer and Corin Sworn, CURRENT also presents seminal British Artists’ Video works of the 1970s & 1980s from the REWIND research project at DJCAD and a moving image screening programme of emerging artists’ works from Scotland.

The two opening exhibitions exemplify the curatorial ethos of CURRENT. Surplus Cameo Decor: Sindanao 2 by Edgar Schmitz is a discursive process of artistic and critical dialogue, whilst Wheat, Mud, Machine illuminates the experimental and collaborative spirit of Poster Club which embodies the plurality and complexity of contemporary cultural practice.

Hubs and Fictions: On Current Art and Imported Nearness

Shanghai Forum Series #1: Settings – Nearness as A Utopian Proposition

Located at a critical intersection of European and Chinese perspectives, the CURRENT exhibition programme will be refracted through the Hubs and Fictions Shanghai Forum Series: On Current Art and Imported Nearness. This series of international fora investigate how the material manifestations of the ‘global transnational’ are irretrievably intertwined with its own fictions of ‘the contemporary’, and explores which cultural and political realities determine how today’s multiple contemporaneities are instituted and disseminated.

Key international curators, institutional directors, theorists as well as the artists featured in the CURRENT exhibitions, will borrow from the inventory of filmic productions in order to address geopolitical locations as ‘settings’, narrative strategies as ‘plots’, protagonists as ‘characters’ and finally formal and aesthetic languages as ‘figures of speech’ that resonate with and intervene in the cultural and political realities they operate within.

Hubs and Fictions Shanghai Forum Series #1: Settings – Nearness as A Utopian Proposition will examine the promise of institutionality and discuss the limitations of contemporary art infrastructures, with contributions by Simon Groom, Terry Smith, Wang Nanming and What, How & for Whom/WHW.

Hubs and Fictions: On Current Art and Imported Nearness is co-curated by Sophia Hao and Edgar Schmitz.


CURRENT has featured in major national and international press in the UK and China.

In the Scotland on Sunday Spectrum supplement on Sunday 5 July, Susan Mansfield previewed the CURRENT project which included interviews with Anne-Marie Copestake, Ross Sinclair and curator Sophia Hao


Related groups

Cooper Gallery