‘NO GO’: Artists, Trespass and the Aftermath of Occupation

‘NO GO’: Artists, Trespass and the Aftermath of Occupation
Author: Gough, Paul (8 August 2022)


This paper considers the relationship between site, memory and fine art practices, as viewed from the perspectives of a practitioner informed by the discourses of commemoration and the aftermath of conflict. Through an exploration of art works derived from encounters with displaced spaces, peripheries and edgelands, Gough situates his practice – and that of several selected artists – as a conversation between “place”, “space” and the geopolitical. Artists have long employed the notions of ambiguity, transition and the hybrid in their work.

Framed within the discourses of liminality and aftershock, practitioners have explored various strategies to address rites of in-betweenness to evoke a sensation of transition and displacement. To explore these ideas, Gough posits a number of his artworks as ‘provocations’, and draws attention to other contemporary artists and practitioners similarly drawn to the aftermath of constructed places and re-constructed histories. The paper draws upon two suites of Gough’s work each addressing aspects of the aftermath, and each to a degree addressing issues of transgression. The first is a series of site-specific photographs take on the decrepit and abandoned British army bases in former West Germany where Gough’s family was garrisoned during the Cold War.

They speak of an abjectness and blankness tempered by the depth of familial association. The second suite of practice use frottage, rubbings and photographic collage, to assemble a cycle of triptych forms drawn from prolonged site visits to the sites of twentieth century battle in Turkey, France, Belgium and Macedonia: locations richly associated with transgressive military intervention and now comprised of preserved terrain, military cemeteries and rhetorical topography that has long informed Gough’s practice.

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