Arts project challenging traditional imperial Western values launches in Glasgow

Posted by See Me, 11 June 2024

Monuments for Present exhibition opened at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow.

As part of the Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Arts, the art exhibition explores ideas about equality and public space, particularly from the perspective of people who have experienced the asylum system.

It gives space to imagining and shaping what a new, more equitable shared public space might look and feel like in contrast to the celebration of a national identity which ‘glorifies violent imperialist extraction and white supremacy’.

Crowd gathers at exhibition space for Monuments for Present.

The exhibition, partially funded by our Anti-Stigma Arts Fund, was created over many months through a participatory action project by the Maryhill Integration Network, Museum of Things art group. It involved artists and heritage and art curators, Paria Goodarzi, Mia Gubbay and Francesca Zappia. 

The multimedia exhibition combines long scrolls of beautiful prose which gently drift onto the floor, alongside vibrant collages, videos and soap sculptures - all exploring themes of belonging and identity.

Sculptures made from soap have a particular power, both as beautiful objects, made meaningful and personal through the manner in which each sculpture is created, but also in their innate fragility and impermanence, apparently in contrast to the monuments and systems around us that can feel fixed and impossible to change.

Various soap sculpture laid out on a table.Video of someone carving a soap sculpture.

In the videos, sculptures are washed away or carved down to shards.

The power, however, of finding community through creativity and collaboration is articulated through one of the poems hanging on the wall.

It reads: 

"We are all fighting the same struggle, we are against the same system. We are not ignoring that it is difficult and it can be difficult to form a sense of togetherness without compromising somewhere. The idea to come together, we might give up something, we don’t lose something to create something new. The peace and sense of community is for the better."

For See Me, as an anti-stigma programme, creating a world without stigma means first we all need to imagine one. Making space to creatively explore an alternative society, one that is more equitable; one that values collective action and collaboration, especially for people who have been systematically marginalised; and one that names the systems of power which stigmatise, stereotype and discriminate, is vital to this work. 

The Maryhill Integration Network Museum of Things art group members include: Beauty Osayomwanbor Nosa, Inna Hordiiko, Mehri Abdi, Rezvan Faghani, Sara Abdelnasser, Shahid Mahmood, Sadaf Syeda, Tanisha Sarkar, Tara Gomary, Tomilola Owolabi, Valentina Vodolazska and Valentyna Dolottseva.

Visit the exhibition Monuments for the Present at the CCA until Sunday 23 June and at Byres Road Community Hub, also on until Sunday 23 June.