Army —

1991


In mid-1991, two young Scottish artists, Roddy Buchanan and Douglas Gordon, brought Army to Northern Ireland. Appropriated from a gable wall in Glasgow, this large wall piece, computer scannerchromed onto canvas, looked out from the Orpheus Gallery in York Street in North Belfast to visually body-check citizens and passers-by for opinions, acceptances and rejections. Where you stood was how you perceived it – salvation army to some, army of transgression to others. On close viewing, one can see how the scannerchrome technique works. A photographic image is scanned by computer and can be reproduced on a variety of materials, in this case linen canvas. While it lays the image down onto the linen, it also brings out the lined fibres of the fabric to the surface. It has always been thought paradoxical that soldiers on patrol in Belfast wear uniforms designed to be effective camouflage in a rural landscape rather than the city. The army finds in this sense no hiding place in the city; the text ‘Army’ finds no hiding place on the gallery wall. The soft, lyrical focus of the close reading, both optically and metaphorically, hardens to a street reality from a distance. The meaning of Army is ambiguous and confrontational. You cannot ignore it; it may affect you at some time wherever you go.

Liam Kelly, Thinking long, Contemporary Art in the North of Ireland, P59-60


Army, Orpheus Gallery, Belfast. Exhibition with Douglas Gordon curated by Liam Kelly.