As an oral history project, SIGOHA seeks to democratise history: to give normal people the opportunity to tell their own story and influence how history will represent them. SIGOHA promotes the voices of Glaswegians that are often left out of official accounts. Through exploring issues of nationality, identity, prejudice and what it takes to call somewhere ‘home’, SIGOHA hopes to construct an alternative history of the city.
Curated by Jessie Lawson and Alasdair Campbell, Glasgow Anew: Untold stories and transnational perspectives presents a selection of stories from the SIGOHA archive. In keeping with the ethos of the SIGOHA project, the Glasgow Anew exhibition empowers participants as storytellers: recordings of the exchanges are played in their entirety, unedited, preserving the intrinsic subjectivity and flow of the conversations. Each recording is accompanied by a photographic portrait of the speaker. Discussions explore a range of issues from first impressions of the city to the emotional effects of migration and notions of belonging.
Participants were also invited to contribute personal objects which they felt would illuminate important aspects of their lives. Ranging from sand from Robben Island to asylum documents, these material ‘things’ serve as props, providing tangible evidence for the subjective experiences recounted from memory. These vessels have migrated with their owners across continents and societies; some are souvenirs acquired in transit, others tools or totems handed down through generations. In Glasgow today they take on new meanings, informed by the past and the present.
The exhibition space itself has been reimagined as an open platform for a series of site-specific events. The space has been offered to the participants for their own personal projects, resulting in a varied programme of workshops, film screenings, talks and a theatre performance. In this way granting further autonomy to the storytellers themselves and creating a sense of shared ownership of the gallery space. Thus the exhibition encourages dialogue and the exchange of transnational perspectives, allowing the city to be experienced anew.
Jessie Lawson graduated from the University of Glasgow with an MA (Hons) in History. She works for Knightswood-based community development charity LINKES. She founded and runs the Settled in Glasgow Oral History Archive, which is an ongoing project.
Alasdair Campbell graduated from the University of Glasgow with an MA (Hons) in History and French. He studied art and design at Dundee College and the University of Jean Jaurès, Toulouse. He has worked as exhibition and installation assistant at Surgeons’ Hall Museums, Edinburgh.
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