Gordon Douglas

An Opposites Programme

Every time I’ve started a blog, there is always a pre-generated title for the first post, an encouraging gesture towards immediate use. From 2008 onwards, I have attempted several blogs, stopping and starting at various points in my life:


1. Gordondouglas.wordpress.com, 2008-12, being the first of these sites– public documentation of thought-processes and activity whilst studying at Edinburgh’s Telford College, and my first year at Glasgow School of Art.

2. The second was a tumblr, universal-studios-info, 2014, and was set up to promote events and exhibitions that happened at Universal Studios, a tiny, communal studio space that ten graduates shared in an office building. There also seems to be an image of an artwork by Gerry Bibby at the top.

3. with-the-rookery, 2015, aimed to host research from the collaborative project The Rookery, that resulted in an off-season pantomime of Jack and the Beanstalk in a much larger self-initiated studio. This blog never took off.

4. Another wordpress gordandouglass, 2016, borrowed its name from the frequent mis-spelling of my name on tickets when working with the theatre shortlisting agency, Total Theatre Awards, during Edinburgh Fringe. This aimed to be a place for performance criticism, but I never found time to write.

5. Introduction-to-performance, 2016, aimed to be a private blog for co-ordinating a course elective on performance art history that I devised with students of the HND Contemporary Art Practice at Edinburgh College. We gave up on it very early on, instead using facebook to organise, and introduction-to-performance.xyz (designed by Ben Callaghan) as documentation.

By starting the blog for An Opposites Programme with CCA, I’ve been forced to think about my relationship to blogging, and my relationship to public and private thinking. The ongoing re-drafting of the post ‘Co-existing with the Formative’ on my original wordpress, has provided a space in which I am hoping to chart a turn I made in retreating into a space of unpublic.

My name is Gordon Douglas, and I’m intending to publish writing, images, video, and audio throughout 2018-19 whilst embedded within CCA Glasgow. I’m a performance artist and curator who frequently works with practitioners from arts and non-arts backgrounds towards developing research projects, performance events, and publications. Since 2015, I have been working closely in partnership with organisations of different scales towards looking at performativity and reproduction in collaborative and organisational practice. These partnerships have looked closely at the concept of future-proofing, drawing from the rich legacies of institutional critique and queer performance. From May 2018, I will be working with CCA towards a ‘performative audit’ of their open source policy, a policy that allows free and temporary use of spaces and resources by the organisation’s wider community. An Opposites Programme will be the realisation of this audit– a series of in-house workshops, discussions, public events and performances. This blog will be a site to reflect upon and open up some of these moments in addition to hosting thoughts on collaboration and performance.

An Opposites Programme has developed from a vested interest in collaborative working models, and the kinds of performance that take place in order to maintain these structures. As austerity measures continue to pressure arts organisations to partner and share resources, collaboration is becoming one of the defining features of our cultural practice. I believe, given the ease through which the term collaboration has already slipped into euphemistic territory, it is imperative that we challenge and question the intimate dynamics that constitute this working method and reclaim collaboration as a non-exclusive, non-complicit, non-exploitative model of work. An Opposites Programme intends to treat the open-source policy as a performance score, thinking through the relationship this interpretive performance document has to multiple pasts, presents and futures. An Opposites Programmes aims to further develop mutual understandings of accessibility, responsibility, and accountability within the collaborative model of cultural exchange inside the open-source programme.

If you would like to contact me directly regarding the project or anything else, I can be reached on gordondouglas@cca-glasgow.com and would be very interested to chat!

About An Opposites Programme

Performance artist Gordon Douglas is working with CCA towards a performative audit of our open source policy, a programming model that offers free and temporary public use of many of the organisation’s spaces and facilities. An Opposites Programme will be the realisation of this audit – a series of in-house workshops, public events and performances taking place throughout 2018-19.

By imagining the policy as a performance score, and the organisation and its stakeholders as performers, the research aims to seek out the habits of decision-making, responsibility and evaluation that are enacted on a daily basis. What kinds of interpretation does this allow, and how might considering it in this way highlight repeated (and neglected) gestures as they occur over time?

In the past, Gordon has conceived and maintained working dialogues with practitioners from arts and non-arts backgrounds, investing time into understanding performativity in collaborative and organisational practice. Whilst at CCA, he will be thinking through the implicit social contracts we submit to when joining groups; registers of critique on organisational futures; and the potentially exploitative behaviour we mask by calling a practice ‘collaborative’.

An Opposites Programme aims to embody some of these questions by hosting staff, open source contributors and independent practitioners by occupying challenging spaces around CCA: the air conditioning vents, the artist’s residency flat, the reception desk, and an abundance of other awkward sites around the building.