Tuesday’s lunchtime was marred by this news report.
I feel I am writing an obituary, for, since the issues were made public, I am mourning the loss of my favourite time in Glasgow, what I have been looking forward to since I applied, booked and paid for my place in this year’s events, back in October. Winter will be a long season now.
New Moves International were behind the New Territories festival and, for 30 years, the National Review of Live Arts. And many other little pockets of activity, since the form of their events has been ever changing, forever critical of itself and its form, reflexive to point of dizziness, risky, engaged, tormented, inquiring.
The National Review of Live Art brought La Ribot to Glasgow, introduced me to Guillermo Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra – with whom I was going to do a Winter School in March 2012, as part of this year’s activities – and allowed me to experience the bodily fluids and the deaths of the favourite performers of Via Negativa’s artists, first hand. It showed me that art – live art, mind you – could still give me shivers down the spine, that not all was lost to mediocrity, trends and the market. It provided a home for my own dreams of merging the visual with dance, with video, with psychology in a direct and effective way, with as little mediation as possible. It has introduced me to interesting people like Mary Brennan and her partner, whom I was always looking forward to chat, the New Moves team, starting with Nikki Millican and Colin Richardson-Webb and the Contemporary Performance Practice staff and students at the Royal Conservatoire. It made me flinch, recoil at certain experiences, like the closeness of a hammer to my skull, blood and nudity, screams, a meal made up of discarded organic elements gathered during an operation, the kiss of a man who has just drank the sweat he had produced after a whole hour in a plastic bag. It made me politically active, engaged, believing, as Gómez-Peña passed around a bottle of Havana Club 7 while declaring ‘God Bless America’, which was followed by a good 10 minutes of ‘God Bless …’ from the audience (from Finland to Glasgow, someone’s cat and anything that came into the thrilled, and tipsy, audience’s head). Those of you who know me best will have heard all of these accounts, and will remember my joy. In fact, you often ask me, at any point in the year, when is the festival taking place. And now it is not.
New Territories and the National Review of Live Art made Glasgow cutting edge, far more than any Turner Prize. In its over 30 years of life, it has reinvented itself a few times, so I have a glimmer of hope that such earthly pursuits as ‘financial irregularities’ will not stop its vital pulse. It has often been called a phoenix and I am hoping that this naming is correct and that I can be part of it again. My hands are here for any reconstruction that needs to take place.