Grand Central Hotel, Central Station, Glasgow.28 May – 6 June 1999
In 1999 Glasgow was designated UK City of Architecture and Design. NVA was commissioned to produce what was to become a highlight of the Festival programme. We searched for an appropriate venue for four months until, after a tip-off from the Festival Director Dejan Sudjik, we found the derelict top floors of Central Hotel above Glasgow Central train station.
Thematically Grand Central gave great scope to explore darker themes of loss and dysfunction in a uniquely decayed architecture which had remained untouched for decades. The NVA creative team harnessed the considerable power of the location and curated a subtle and challenging set of transformations along the corridors and through the abandoned rooms.
Many of the installations scared the hell out of people, with eccentric performers roaming the ballroom and hallways, burnt out furniture and decaying flower arrangements, a razor blade room, a ghostly projection of a crime taking place on a nearby roof, and most memorably a naked chess player who appeared periodically behind the walls – although spawning problems and heat did lead to problems with a bath of live eels…. It took tremendous faith for the hotel owners to open up such a difficult location for public scrutiny; however they were extremely pleased by the positive publicity generated by the strong media coverage.
There was a real intensity to the public reaction. On a primal level people still love scaring themselves and in general the work was just subtle enough to allow people to find their own level of interaction and trust in what they were seeing.