Francis McKee was talking with Ross Sinclair, Rosie O'Grady and Tessa Lynch over Skype with John Nicol and Cedric Tai in Detroit.
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Francis McKee's Biography:
Francis McKee is an Irish writer, photographer and curator working in Glasgow.
He is currently completing a book for Book Works in London. A fictional narrative, Even the Dead Rise Upexplores the world of spiritualism and it’s links to protest movements:
A task – a series of monthly essays, accompanied by photo-journalistic images, to trace the nature of dissent and protest across the globe today. Twelve entries, drawing on the templates of the Mass Observation movement (founded 1937) – a semi-serious desire to practice ‘anthropology at home’ founded by Charles Madge, Tom Harrison and Humphrey Jennings in Bolton – the project attempts to discover the unconscious at work in an industrial town, through diary entries, collected anecdotes, rumours, and overheard commentaries.
Even the Dead Rise Up, and the political becomes personal. McKee’s observations of séances, scientific advances, group education outings, Kurdish protests for the ‘disappeared’, become mixed with his own visions: a spirit reappears, haunting the author; histories of isolated early Christians and twentieth century mystics affect his own psyche. The relation between political resistance and Spiritiualism is cast as a heretical force, a hauntology, and a millenarian energy, celebrating the ecstatic moment. In a format that is influenced by forms of 1960s new journalism, in which reporter pushes language to match the raw material of the stories, the reader follows the author, as he is tipped into a resynchronised world by forces and refined codes, and heretical energy that is out of his control.
From 2005 – 2008 he was director of Glasgow International, and since 2006 he has been at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow. He is a lecturer and research fellow at Glasgow School of Art. He has worked on the development of open source ideologies and their practical application to art spaces, specifically the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow.. He curated the Scottish participation at the Venice Biennale with Kay Pallister in 2003. Since 2011 he has been lead researcher on an AHRC research project – The Glasgow Miracle: Materials Towards Alternative Histories – indexing the archives of The Scottish Arts Council Gallery, Glasgow, the Third Eye Centre and CCA, spanning 1973 to the present.
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A word from the curator about Francis' work in this exhibition:
Francis McKee has been taking photographs everyday and you would be lucky to get a glimpse from his iPad. Although he is known worldwide in his capacity as a curator and writer, he has rarely shown his photographs in public apart from a Flickr page. In his DIY photo journalistic way he also has the rare privilege to access striking locations. One such place is in the Glasgow School of Art in the direct aftermath of the fire that swallowed up Mackintosh's hand carved library. There are thousands of images that he perhaps has never really looked at past clicking the shutter and what we are left with are selections that can only describe what is going on in relation to one another, especially in the case of the images from Taksim Square. It is worth mentioning that he is also very addictive to talk to. If you need a lead, look towards the nearest archive. Or rather, you will find an archive within an archive.
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References worth checking out:
Abida Parveen, Coke Studio Sessions, (2010)
Paul Mason, Why It’s Still Kicking Off Everywhere, (2013)
Lucien X. Polastron, Books on Fire: The Destruction of Libraries throughout History (2007)
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Images and information about Rosie's work in the exhibition are available through Simone DeSousa Gallery.