25 May 2018
Jonas Staal‘s The Scottish-European Parliament is centred around a visual model that transforms a decommissioned oil rig in the North Sea into a new transnational parliament, assembling pan-European organisations with Scottish civil platforms, social movements and political parties to envision a future European Union from a Scottish point of view. 62% of Scots voted to remain part of the EU. This exhibition explores a future for an independent Scotland that rejoins the European Union, and how the visionary campaigns of the social movements that arose during the independence referendum could revitalise a weakening European Union, internally threatened from both austerity policies and ultranationalism.
The Scottish-European Parliament is the culmination of a two-year collaboration between Staal, CCA’s Public Engagement Curator Viviana Checchia, Glasgow School of Art Professor Johnny Rodger and Glasgow University PhD Candidate & Graduate Teaching Assistant Anika Marschall, which included a series of public events and research meetings with Scottish organisations concerned with the question of independence and Scotland’s relationship with the EU.
During the exhibition, several of these political parties, organisations and groups will be invited to propose a possible scenario for the future use of this imaginary Scottish-European Parliament considering questions including: Can a parliament be both national and European? How would it legislate transnationally in recognition of local and regional political and economic realities? And could a Scottish-European parliament be the start of a plurality of parliaments – from Greece to Scotland – that challenge the politics of ultranationalism and austerity within the current disintegration of the European Union?
Artistically, The Scottish-European Parliament is an imaginative, almost utopian, space that proposes the existence of a new European parliament. As Staal proposes “artistic imaginary precedes political change” – in order to reshape the European Union we must imagine this change first. Staal’s almost science-fiction logic results in a visual proposal that assembles a variety of scenarios proposed by different political and social organisations within the exhibition, through which the future can be experienced and practised prior to its arrival.
Staal said “There is an important paradox in the recent history of Scotland. On one hand, the massive popular campaign for independence from the United Kingdom; and on the other hand, the clearly overwhelming vote to remain interdependent with the European Union. It seems bizarre to me that today, it is the Scots that have to ‘convince’ the EU to retain membership: why should it not be other EU countries and its civil society that should open up a pathway to Scottish membership? And could the social policies of Scotland not be a starting point to rethink and re-unionise Europe, in its present state torn apart by ultranationalists on one hand, and the austerity elite on the other? Maybe art can make a modest contribution to pre-enact an alternative: a Scottish-European Parliament.”
CCA will also present earlier works of Staal’s artistic and political New Unions campaign. From alternative maps and flags of a future European Union to drawings and studies of alternative European parliaments, these earlier works contextualise The Scottish-European Parliament and also illustrate examples of Staal’s unique artistic research at the intersection of art and politics.
The exhibition opening will take place at CCA on Friday 15 June from 7pm – 9pm, with a project introduction, with a project introduction by Jonas Staal, Viviana Checchia and Johnny Rodger at 5.30pm.
The Scottish-European Parliament is a collaboration with The Glasgow School of Art, The Drouth, Leverhulme International Network of Contemporary Studies, and the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities. Supported by the Mondriaan Fund and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.
Accompanying the exhibition, Political Animal is a four-day interdisciplinary cultural event which explores how the contemporary city can be written, curated, performed and (re)built. Through talks, presentations, exhibitions and assemblies, questions around the roles of the collective and the individual in the operations of the city will be raised and discussed. Aristotle defined humans as the ‘political animal’ because humans rationalise, normalise and codify their social relations in a city.
Participants include Viviana Checchia, Jasmina Cibic, Fucking Good Art, Peter Geoghegan, Agnieszka Kilian, Mairi Lafferty, Francis McKee, Hannah McGill, Paola Merli, Prabhakar Pachpute, Nikos Papastergiadis, Andreas Phillipopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Johnny Rodger, Alicja Rogalska, Lionel Ruffel, Mike Small, Jonas Staal, Ravi Sundaram, Andrew Tickell and Carol Yinghua Lu.
Political Animal is presented in partnership with Glasgow School of Art, Leverhulme International Network of Contemporary Studies and The Drouth. Supported by Prince Claus Fund for Culture & Development, Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
The Scottish-European Parliament
Sat 16 June – Sun 29 July
Tue-Sat: 11am-6pm // Sun: 12noon-6pm // Free // Preview: Fri 15 June, 7pm-9pm, Project Introduction: Fri 15 June, 5.30pm
Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3JD
Political Animal, Thu 21 Jun–Sun 24 Jun, Free but ticketed / All ages