Jack Mottram, 'Plastic Casino' (The List, 27/05/2004)
Craig Mulholland Plastic Casino
Craig Mulholland’s new show, Plastic Casino, looks liable to be quite the dizzying affair, spanning two spaces – Sorcha Dallas and a nearby abandoned warehouse – and bleeding into its city centre surroundings; trapping disparate influences in a tangled net of sculpture, painting and video.
In drawing on sources ranging from Walter Benjamin’s discussion of the city as arcade, Guy Debord’s ideas of spectacle, the failings of post-revolutionary art education in Cuba and the very spaces that will hold his new work, Mulholland sees the show as, in part, a critique of voguish urban regeneration.
‘I wanted to present the work in a way that might echo the scepticism surrounding the regeneration of Glasgow,’ he says. ‘Some of the paintings have plinths to sit on, and that presentation is slightly obtuse and absurd, like the way you can wander around town and see useless marble blocks on the pavement, installed as part of some regeneration scheme. There’s a window in the space and, if you look out, you can see shopping precincts and billboards, so I want the space to have a consumer aspect – one piece is a wall painting of a bar code, like the shadow of a looming bar code outside.’
If the show in its entirety is to be a sort of static derive through commercial surroundings, individual works look set to question points in the flow of art history.
‘A lot of the work is about taking optimistic ideologies of the past, and placing them in a more cynical light. One painting Olde Ultraviolence, looks like a photo realist piece, like an early Gerhard Richter. I was interested in Richter’s claims about non-style, and the way that now, through time, his work appears to be very styled. This painting is meant to ask if Richter’s work has, over time, almost become fascist; a narrative dramatisation of that question.’
Alongside his own show, Mulholland is also engaging in some low-key curation, reserving space in the warehouse for Clare Stephenson and Alex Pollard. But rather than tying in with Mulholland’s show, the work by Pollard and Stephenson is being brought in so artists and audience can identify links between all three. ‘We wanted the opportunity to see each others’ work together, to see what dialogue there might be between our work.’
This is ambitious stuff, then, and there’s lots of it. Whether Mulholland succeeds in tying together his broad concerns remains to be seen, but it will certainly be fun watching him try.