Glasgow International: Joshua Petherick
We weren’t so familiar with Glasgow’s underground train system, which happens to be one of the first in the world (well actually the third oldest after London and Budapest). Unlike the Melbourne version, which loops our city centre, the Glasgow version creates a loop from one side of Glasgow centre to the West End, leading us to speculate about the historical layout of Glasgow and its urban planning, and who it was built to service back at the underground’s establishment in 1896. There is something special about this underground; both the scale of the trains and tunnels look to be 1/3 less than usual, more like cable car size. And at a number of stations, as it originally built, the platform is the narrowest of islands between the two trains, the one moving clockwise and the other anti-clockwise around the loop. Standing on this island platform is a little terrifying – certainly no place for over active toddlers or anyone not in full charge of their senses. We gather a refurbishment plan to modernise the remaining stations is well underway which is no doubt a sensible idea although it will change the historical and intimate quality of these stations. There is something especially nice about the way the train driver looks out and up the platform to the descending stairs to see if there is anyone she should wait for – well that was on the weekend we ventured underground anyway. The station-master informed us that the underground attracts 4 million travellers each year – so the system is well used and in our experience ran like clock work.
Joshua has created a series of posters that are housed in the glass advertising cases on the platforms as well as amongst the advertisements mounted on the opposite curved side of the tunnels. His posters stand out from the mix of social service messages, advertisements for theatre shows and new album releases around them, firstly, through their perceived compression within the glass case, then also their strange cropping, pixilation and tones of black and white, and their appearance of being in transition – at a moment of placement or arrangement, being glued to or perhaps removed from the wall. He has taken, as his starting point, the undergrounds nickname The Clockwork Orange and while his posters don’t appear to advertise anything, they allude to some kind of coded language or process of obscuration or uncovering. What is especially rewarding about this project, is how it takes on the context, repeating the action of something only partially viewable in transit in its format, reiterating both the flickering, repetition and partial abstraction of the image and in our viewing of it.