Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Art


Rosie’s Disobedient Press

An overcast start to the day here in Glasgow, with rain and showers pushing from the south. Temperatures will reach highs from about noon today, with the rain moving west and bringing in sunny spells from the east into the afternoon.

On the bridge over the river, trains bring visitors slowly, slowly into the central station.

Oh I know them
O tha mi eòlach orra
Oh I know them

Tha mòran dhrochaidean, cabhsairean, fo-rathaidean, slighean cùil. Mar gum biodh bràthair no piuthar òg air a h-uile sràid.

There are many bridges, alleyways, underpasses, back-lanes. As if every street had a younger sibling which tagged along. Through the alleyways, crunching over spatterings of old bird shit. It all makes for a particular kind of shine. The strange faraway sounds of pop music from the pubs, clubs, bars. You know the tune, and the lyrics are somewhere in there too. Something maudlin about this beloved city. When the music fades it's just the constant rumble of rubber tyres and engines running across the tarmac of the motorways. These sounds often paired with the odour that the breweries emit over the city, barley and wheat warmed up into a rich golden liquid, like sunlight, flooding the sky and never quite letting go to the night time. I birthed this place, this dear green place and I speak to all its corners. I speak to its highs and its lows, and the ones that got away.

There is something to be said for sandstone, both red and blonde, and how the light hits when the sun comes through. At every turn there is evidence of the big ideas they had for this place.

Large stone pillars and glass houses, monuments to the wrong people mostly. But all too often things were built up, used for a bit, disused for a bit longer and then flattened. There is something to be said for preservation, but here it seems something was missed. Strange it is when the city becomes an event. Waving at faces on the other side of blue panes of glass, the ones on the inside, where the objects and pictures stand. Tha mi ga fhaicinn cuideachd, nuair a bhios daoine a’ruith sìos chun tiùb agus a-steach do bhroinn mo bheatha. I see it too, as people run down to the tube and into the belly of my past. A circuit this time into the city's body, pumping round with screech repeat, screech repeat. Bones bashed together at the will of the breaks. The motion causes hums through the pavement, its vibration itching the toes apart forcing space between them in the shoe, five siblings separated by the smallest of earthquakes.

The train now arriving on platform 1 is the delayed 3.35 from London Euston.

Gossip is never neutral, I see it, I speak it. I like to know who's who and what's what. It’s my place, the voice, the talk of the town. The community stirs around gossip, it is at the core of our closeness. One person's value system laid on top of another’s over, over another, making stacks as tall as the cathedral. An e rud dona a th’ann an gossip? Is gossip bad? Is it not how we work out our allies, how we make our groups? It is a 1-2-1 practise, a hot whisper that goes straight into your bloodstream, it initiates the wry smile usually reserved for lovers. The one you are practising right now as you hear this. Word of mouth is the only format to trust, it is also the quickest way to aggravate and respond.

As we move now against the drum of the city we whisper whisper whisper our resistance.

Oh I know them
O tha mi eòlach orra
O tha mi eòlach orra

These whispers - our precious words turn to the statues, and the street names which will no longer be unheard, the whispers of many mouths become a cry, a shout, something that cannot be unnoticed, something that is a refusal. Something that is certain and just. The passion flower, La Pasionaria roars her solidarity into the clyde. Prefiero morir de pie que vivir de rodillas.

Saints are usually memorialised in stained glass, but walls in which the glass was set have been flattened. Now in their place stands a new monument which is mine in name only. It took more glass than the roof of Central Station.

Feasts and celebrations will return, I know it, much like the seasons I can sense the communal coming. It moves in my intestine, the motors of the automatic doors grind at greater frequencies. The food court I keep on my shoulders radiates heat up to my face, the chatter swelling to my ears, trays clatter, chairs scrap, I keep them all on my shoulders built up on the scaffold. 1000’s of them everyday and all the things they say. Teenagers flow through me with giggles and gasps bringing them closer to one and another. I keep a lid on things, a greenhouse for their secrets.

I think about the 18th July and the birth of the Glasgow fair. It started, it is said, on an uneven swampy area composed of the High and Low Greens, the place where people washed together. Using water while it stopped in the city to catch its breath as a way to cleanse themselves along with their sins. By the 19th century, the fair meant all workers could equally participate in leisure while they watched short melodramas play out. They were on my shoulders then too, it could be said, whether they knew it or not. The simulations at the festival provided an escapism that could not be typically afforded by the working class. I tried to give them everything in my head. In my name and in my name only. Having the capacity to be outside of ourselves does not change with time, being in a reality that has been built by another without threat, never any less appealing. ‘Scheduled entertainment which will stay in its lane’, has become a conversation I will no longer partake in.

Threat is an ongoing vision, I see it repeated and I talk of it with reluctance. It is the storm we all get caught in. Unlike the visitors which arrive on trains, rain comes in on the clouds. This city sometimes has an unhinged approach to weather. No steady constant, ever.

A bit of a blustery start to the week.

And temperatures set to plunge later in the week bringing wide spread frost and maybe even some snow in higher areas.

A cloudy, rather cold day with rain, heavy at times, quickly spreading from the heat during the morning and persisting for the rest of the day. Rain may clear later into the evening.

Maximum temperatures of 13 degrees centigrade.

After a wet start rain will clear steadily

Followed by much drier weather for the second half of the day. Lows of 7 degrees centigrade.

Remaining unseated with showers and rain for most of the day of Friday.

Friday, Friday, Friday.

Dihaoine. Dihaoine. Dihaoine.

The night of communion and ascension, the beating heart day. You come to me, I come to you. We meet. When there is singing and movement, bodies loose and mouths looser. Fumes of laughter, raised voices stir around me, your final words of the night running away in the gutter with the rain. Friday is not the same for everyone, but that is forgotten by the ones who it is there for the most. We lose some of them every week. I try to keep an eye on them but my arms which are set into foundations that sink into the invisible keep me trapped.

I cannot do this work, so it is outsourced throughout the city to organisations of caregivers with second hand office chairs whose front doors become portals into a sense of security. These organisations reach into the gaps and cracks and try to keep others going, even recently in the quiet they maintain. They tick tick tick, boxes and checklists and statuses and benefits and applications and grants and eligibility, tick tick tick with possibilities. Each tick a hope, and a heartache.

Seo na gàirdeanan a tha eadar-cheangailte, far nach urrainn dhomh mo chuid fhìn a thoirt seachad. Tha feadhainn eile ann le gàirdeanan air an sìneadh a-mach.

There are arms that interlace, where I cannot give my own. There are others with arms outstretched.

Oh I know them, I know them
O tha mi eòlach orra
O tha mi eòlach orra

This is a transcript of the audio work Teneu, written by Adrien Howard and Lisette May Monroe (Rosie’s Disobedient Press). The work was originally presented during Glasgow International 2021 in a version performed and translated into Gaelic by Cass Ezeji