In September 2014 the MANY Graduate Residency programme supported Georgia Horgan to display her first solo show post graduation, Early Modern Administrative Machine. The exhibition presented documents of a research about the 1697 witch hunt in Renfrewshire, and how these particular witch hunts had a major influence on the establishment of the Bargarran Thread Company - an early example of a textile factory similar to Meadow Mill.
Georgia says about her work:
"The primary concern of my practice is how objects have a degree of agency or independent power in social or political assemblages. Through most of the past year, my specific area of research has been how the proliferation and mechanisation of the textile industry in Scotland encouraged outbreaks of witch hunting in the late seventeenth century.
Usually dismissed by historians as an episode of superstitious mass hysteria, in her book The Caliban and the Witch feminist Marxist theorist Silvia Federici reframes the witch hunt as a state-sponsored genocide. By stamping out pagan rural tradition, weeding out undesirables, and most importantly disciplining women’s bodies in a bid to render them reproductive machines for the labour force, Federici demonstrates that witch hunting was instrumental in primitive accumulation, industrialization and the consolidation of power by the ruling class.
A particular incident in Paisley in 1697 is an uncanny model for Federici’s argument. A young girl named Christian Shaw from a noble family accused over twenty people of witchcraft, seven of which were hung, the rest imprisoned indefinitely. The young girl subsequently grew up to become one of the most influential people in the textile industry in Scotland, opening a large thread mill with looms and other machinery imported from the continent."
Using the Paisley incident as a model, the exhibition at Meadow Mill was a presentation of Georgia Horgan's research into the history of the event and how it demonstrates Federici’s thesis. The gallery at Meadow Mill also adds a dimension of site-specificity, as the building was formerly a jute mill.
For more information about Georgia's work, please visit: www.georgiahorgan.co.uk
Location: Meadow Mill Project Space, Wasps Studios, Dundee
Date: September 2014