Public engagement project

CURRENT | 不合时宜 : Contemporary Art from Scotland | Phase Two

Focuses on the history, development and current conditions of artists’ moving image works to further explore 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

December 2016

Completion date

January 2017

CURRENT | 不合时宜 : Contemporary Art from Scotland

Phase Two

Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum

Exhibition Programme:
REWIND: British Video Art in the 70s and 80s
>>FFWD: Artists’ Moving Image from Scotland

17 December 2016 – 15 January 2017

Hubs and Fictions: On Current Art and Imported Nearness
Shanghai Forum Series #2
Characters: The Problem of Figure-Ground Relationships
Speakers:Tobias Berger, JJ Charlesworth, Carol Yinghua Lu
13 November 2016


Following the successful 2015 debut, CURRENT | 不合时宜 : Contemporary Art from Scotland will move into Phase Two at Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum in December 2016.

Curated by Cooper Gallery DJCAD, University of Dundee in collaboration with Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum and organised in partnership with the British Council, Phase Two of CURRENT | 不合时宜 : Contemporary Art from Scotland focuses on the history, development and current conditions of artists’ moving image works to further explore 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.

Phase One of CURRENT | 不合时宜 noted that the present is ‘the only moment that ever matters’. Phase Two sustains this observation with the caveat that the ‘contemporary’ is nothing but the shadow of this very moment.

Transfixed in the immediate passage of a recurring now, the contemporary captures and projects only its own image. This is its currency, its irredeemable value, the unique quality of being simultaneously both what is watched and the means of watching. But the now of the contemporary is inherently unstable and indefinite. Without permanency or stability, it smoulders in a closed loop, ceaselessly rewinding and leaping forward, an image always moving ahead and falling back upon itself.

Marking and making time, the contemporary inscribes itself within a technical universe composed of images in constant flux. Faced with this temporal apparition that oscillates between high definition close-ups and impossible wide angle panoramas, Phase Two of CURRENT | 不合时宜 : Contemporary Art from Scotland grasps the restless energies of now by means of two contrasting takes on the moving image; REWIND and >>FFWD

Crashing in and out of focus, cutting and editing time the moving image is the aesthetic medium of the contemporary. Yet as a medium it holds more than just the present moment, its play of film strips and pixels is marked by radical histories. Excavating this radical history encapsulated in seminal artists’ video works from the 1970’s and 80’s REWIND provides an in-depth historical perspective with which to grasp the condition of the contemporary as a moving image falling in and out of history. In contrast, >>FFWD seizes the contemporary in its full immediacy and impact. Choreographed as a four-week rolling programme of moving image works from Scotland, >>FFWD illuminates a visual lexicon of now.

>>FFWD: Artists’ Moving Image from Scotland
Featuring works by twenty-four artists, >>FFWD captures the evocative light of contemporary moving image works from four distinct angles. Indexed by questions of the body, history, narrative and time, >>FFWD unrolls the moving image as a medium irrevocably defined by the urgencies of our contemporary moment.  The selection of >>FFWD is supported by Modern Edinburgh Film School.

>> FFWD: Artists’ Moving Image from Scotland features artists include: Anne Colvin, Anne-Marie Copestake, Karen Cunningham, Kate Davis, Katy Dove, Kathryn Elkin, Sarah Forrest, Allison Gibbs, Michelle Hannah, Elín Jacobsdottir, Mairi Lafferty, Adam Lewis Jacob, Lyndsay Mann, Duncan Marquiss, Oliver Mezger, Rosalind Nashashibi, Lucy Skaer, Bobby Niven, Hardeep Pandhal, Ross Sinclair, Pernille Spence, Corin Sworn, Tom Varley, Dominic Watson.

woman's face on a screen

OUTOFTHEBLU_. MichelleHannah. 2016 Courtesy of the artist.

REWIND: British Video Art in the 70s and 80s

Drawn from the significant national AHRC research project led by scholars at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee, REWIND is a critical and historical counter-point to the contemporary moving image works presented in >>FFWD. Sampling the visual languages and formal innovations developed by video artists working during the 1970’s and 80’s, REWIND provides a telling account of how the image culture of the contemporary is saturated with citations, quotations and references from its near past.

Fast-forwarding to yesterday and rewinding today, Phase Two of CURRENT | 不合时宜 : Contemporary Art from Scotland throws light on the shadow we call the contemporary. Replete with radical aesthetics and artistic passions, >>FFWD and REWIND bring into startling focus the moving images that give the contemporary its fiction of permanency.

head on a screen with lines down it

Stooky Bill TV. David Hall. 1990 Courtesy of REWIND.

Located at a critical intersection of European and Chinese perspectives, the CURRENT exhibition programme is refracted through the Hubs and Fictions Shanghai Forum Series, co-curated by Sophia Hao and Edgar Schmitz. As a prelude for Phase Two of CURRENT | Contemporary Art from Scotland, #2 in the forum series was successfully delivered during the 11th Shanghai Biennale opening weekend. 

Screening events will be held at major contemporary art venues K11 Art Village in Wuhan and the Red Brick Art Museum in Beijing. 

Screening & In-conversation Event #1

@K11 Art Village, Wuhan

18 Dec, 6pm

Pure Movement

Speakers: Sarah Forrest, Sophia Hao, Alex Hetherington

Featuring moving images works by: Rosalind Nashashibi, Pernille Spence, Katy Dove, Dominic Watson, Sarah Forrest, Allison Gibbs, Bobby Niven, Duncan Marquiss, Corin Sworn, Ross Sinclair.

The works featured in this screening event engage with the performance of non-verbal gesture, expression and movement in physical, imaginary or illusionary spaces.

The apparatus of the camera is evident in these works, drawing the mechanical or digital technologies of the lens closer to that of the operation of the eye and in turn to the workings of the mind.

Lines between fictional accounts, sensory experiences and optical illusions meld with sensibilities drawn from observational cinema, documentary film and factual reporting. In these overlaps of film-making and videography opportunities for ambiguity and contradictions emerge.

New stories appear from ancient, dilapidated and disused places, new thoughts emerge from opportunities to see anew. The abstract is animated and objects and landscapes tell their stories. Gestures of the hand and hand-made give a sense of a tenderness of approach, a sense of craft and touch. Places where youth and age and experience meet are explored, while chances to look again at our memories embedded within technologies and images and how it shapes our identities over time are revealed.

The contemporary gives us forward motion, rapid change and fluid connectivity. Its confluences of time, material and reference are dizzying and quick. Our lives can be experienced as collages and splinters. This screening event gives the hectic pace and rhythms of the contemporary a place of quiet reflection, a time to focus on the poetry, incidentals and musicality of everyday life.


Screening & In-conversation Event #2

@Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing

20 Dec, 6pm

The Hallucinating Edge

Speakers: Sarah Forrest, Sophia Hao, Alex Hetherington

Featuring moving images works by: Michelle Hannah, Katy Dove, Tom Varley, Dominic Watson, Mairi Lafferty, Oliver Mezger, Sarah Forrest, Anne Colvin, Karen Cunningham, Ross Sinclair.

The works featured in this screening event explore different methodologies for the expression of their subjects which lie between real and imagined worlds and across past and present. This includes holding up mirrors to their own lives and the potential to create and inhabit alter-egos.

Familiarity of subject and the mysteries of new discoveries overlap and in doing so stage and represent new possibilities. The pursuit of new ways of experiencing images is explored and some of the images on screen become dimensional and sculptural. Artists have envisioned the future and described a potential to experience parts of it now.

References from contemporary cinema and popular culture overlap with expressions of older worlds, ancient places and past lives and biographies. Artists explore how beauty manifests itself in the most unexpected of places. In turn artists explore how they might, for a time, occupy different stories and timelines outside of themselves, all the while being in different places and times.

Language is explored as unreliable and open for interpretation. The contemporary is a place of endless layers and overlaps, the potential to meander through different narratives from past, present and future have become unlimited to us. In this screening artists can be seen in these halls of mirrors, giving us and them a place of self-reflection.


Phase Two of CURRENT | 不合时宜 : Contemporary Art from Scotland is a collaboration between Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum and Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee and organised in partnership with the British Council. 

CURRENT | 不合时宜 : Contemporary Art from Scotland is kindly supported by the British Council, China-UK Connections through Culture, The National Lottery through Creative Scotland, Scottish Government, Shanghai International Culture Association and Goldsmiths College, University of London. CURRENT | 不合时宜 is a direct result of the Research and Development Trip (January 2014) funded by Creative Scotland.

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Cooper Gallery