Glasgow International 2020

Ross Birrell

Ross Birrell (b. 1969 in Paisley, Scotland) lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland.

Birrell employs a range of media including film, sculpture, installation, music, text, events and publications to produce works which interweave contexts of poetry, philosophy, politics, and place. He works both solo and collaboratively in gallery-based installations, site-specific projects, concerts and publications. Birrell’s ongoing Envoy project of site-specific actions across the globe, responds to traditions of radical politics and utopian literature and is published in An Envoy Reader (LemonMelon, London, 2014). Other works explore classical musical forms in personal, poetic and political contexts which often form the basis of recitals, films and audio installations, including: Duet (2013) a work for two violas performed by Palestinian and Israeli musicians; Sonata (2013) a composition for piano trio, performed in the Non-Catholic Cemetery, Rome; A Beautiful Living Thing (2015) performed in the Mackintosh building in the aftermath of the fire; and Fugue (2017), a work developed in collaboration with Syrian violinist and composer Ali Moraly for documenta 14.

Solo shows include: Where Language Ends (with David Harding), Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland (2015); Winter Line (with David Harding), Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2014); Duet, Rothko Chapel, Houston, USA (2013); Duet, Keats-Shelley House, Rome, Italy (2013); You Like This Garden? (with David Harding), Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2011); Guantanamera (with David Harding), intervention For Rent: Consuelo Castañeda, Americas Society, New York, USA (2010).


Group exhibitions include: documenta 14 (2017); New Work from Glasgow, Anatomy Theatre, University College Cork, Ireland (2015); The Beginnings of that Freedome, Westminster Hall, Houses of Parliament, London, England (2015); The Independent, MAXXI: National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Rome, Italy (2015); Counterpoint (part of Generation: 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland & Edinburgh Art Festival), Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland (2014); Risk – Creative Action in Political Culture (Glasgow International), CCA, Glasgow, Scotland (2005).

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Ross Birrell

The Transit of Hermes


This exhibition brings together major film projects by Ross Birrell originally commissioned for documenta 14.

In the film Criollo, an Argentine horse stands at the gateway to New York’s Central Park. How did this solitary animal get there? Is it angel, apparition or gift? Or envoy of a revolution to come?

Criollo was inspired by Tschiffely’s Ride, an equestrian journey from Buenos Aires to New York (1925-1928) which also inspired Birrell’s 2017 Athens-Kassel Ride. Documentation of this journey is exhibited here for the first time. Integral to this work is The Transit of Hermes, the journey of a Greek Arravani horse named after the God of border crossings.

Supported by Creative Scotland.

Fri 20 April – Sun 3 June
Mon – Sat, 11am-6pm
Sun, 12 noon-6pm

Ross Birrell

The Transit of Hermes Artist Talk


Join artist Ross Birrell along with CCA curator Ainslie Roddick for a lunchtime tour of The Transit of Hermes- a project exploring literal and metaphorical journeys, traversing north and south, human and animal, myth and materiality.

Free, no booking required.

Fri 27 April, 1-2pm

Bilocations: Ross Birrell and Adam Szymczyk in conversation


‘Not just mental transportation,… but actual, physical – ’

Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day (2006)

In the context of Ross Birrell’s concurrent solo exhibitions, Criollo, Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam (7 Apr – 9 Jun) and The Transit of Hermes, CCA (19 Apr – 3 Jun), part of Glasgow International – exhibitions based upon works originally commissioned for documenta 14 (2017) – the artist will be in conversation with Adam Szymczyk, Artistic Director of documenta 14. Taking its title from the third chapter of Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day, Bilocations will explore the structure of the works commissioned for documenta 14, Birrell’s ongoing Envoy series, and film and music projects developed with artist, David Harding, many of which were also commissioned by Szymczyk. The talk will address the overlapping territories of artist and curator, theory and practice, aesthetics and politics, past and present, and the bilocated structure of documenta 14 itself, hosted for the first time in full across two cities: Athens and Kassel.

Ross Birrell

Ross Birrell has exhibited in documenta 14, MAXXI, Rome, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Swiss Institute in Rome, Rothko Chapel, Cobra Museum of Modern Art, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Kunsthalle Nürnberg, BAWAG Foundation, Kunsthalle Basel, Fries Museum, Apex Art, New York, Tramway, 4th Gwangju Biennale. Publications include An Envoy Reader (LemonMelon, 2014) and You Like This Garden?… (Portikus, 2014). Birrell often works in collaboration with David Harding and their exhibitions include: Winter Line, Kunsthalle Basel (2014), Where Language Ends, Talbot Rice Gallery (2015), You Like This Garden? Ross Birrell/David Harding, and Douglas Gordon (Portikus, 2014). They conceived Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, a concert commissioned for the opening of documenta 14, with the Athens State Orchestra and Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra, Megaron Concert Hall, Athens. He is represented by Ellen de Bruijne Projects, Amsterdam.

Adam Szymczyk

Curator and art critic Adam Szymczyk is the Artistic Director of documenta 14, which took place in Athens and Kassel in 2017. Szymczyk was Director and Chief Curator of Kunsthalle Basel from 2003 until 2014 and, during his tenure at the Kunsthalle, co-curator (with Elena Filipovic) of the 5th Berlin Biennale, under the title When Things Cast No Shadow. He also curated exhibitions Strange Comfort (Afforded by the Profession) at the Swiss Institute in Rome and Kunsthalle Basel (with Salvatore Lacagnina, 2010) and Olinka, or Where Movement Is Created at Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City (2012) . Szymczyk studied Art History at Warsaw University and completed the Curatorial Programme of De Appel, Amsterdam in 1996. In 1997 he co-founded Fundacja Galerii Foksal (Foksal Gallery Foundation) in Warsaw. In 2011, Szymczyk was recipient of the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement at the Menil Foundation in Houston (TX).

Supported by The Glasgow School of Art and CCA, Glasgow.

For all ages.
Free, booking required. Book via Eventbrite

Sat 21 April, 11am-12.30pm

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