David McLeish: The Skinny Showcase

Greetings from the Costa del Prole

Feature | 17 Sep 2018

With the arrival of the V&A, it got me thinking a lot, as I usually do, about class inclusivity in the arts. Gentrification is a dirty word, however ‘prole’ shouldn’t be an informal derogatory in the dictionary.

1. proletariat, a member of the working class

Riffing off of this, and the pun on the ‘Costa Del Sol’, I reimagined a hypothetical Dundee as not an arts tourism destination, but as how it might be as a working class tourist resort.

As a working class person, I have felt the class divide, and ‘prole’ is the only derogatory term I would even begin to feel comfortable ‘reclaiming’.

In doing this, I want to open a dialogue between the arts and the working classes, between the incumbent institutions and the people who have always been here. There’s no shame in who they are, their opinions on art are just as valid as anyone's. This needed to not be encoded a message in symbolism, or hieroglyphs, so I adopted a very literal visual language – familiar and comfortable that doesn’t talk down to anyone. A love letter to these things, not a sneering patronisation.

I worked hard, and physically, to make all of the objects for a souvenir shop, putting in over 37.5 working hours a week on pretty much everything that would then go on sale in the fully functional shop.

I also performed 37.5 hours of a karaoke version of Abba’s Super Trouper, as a means of putting in the hours and questioning whether it’s harder to work in a shop or perform as an entertainer, a Z-lister and former Leng medallist consigned to living out the rest of their days in some god-forsaken resort town. Trying to run a whole resort like chaotically spinning plates, in the manner of Fawlty Towers, I would be compering karaoke at the show as well as trying to run the shop and do everything.

Peppered with many personal references, telling my own secret narrative about holidays I’ve had and one I’d dearly like to, breaking the fourth wall, and keeping the aesthetic lo-fi, the screen prints deliberately misregistered. Maybe I’ll get there, one day… [David McLeish]

David McLeish graduated from Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone. He's currently looking into developing this project further.


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