LIAM GILLICK

One long walk... Two short piers...

1 April to 8 August 2010

Born 1964 in England, Liam Gillick – who emerged in the early 1990s – is one of the most prominent representatives of the development of conceptual art and one of the most influential artists of our time. In 2009 he was selected for the German Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale. For the first time in Germany, The Art and Exhibition Hall in Bonn will present a comprehensive survey exhibition of Gillick‘s work. The exhibition will reveal the evolution of his practice through the presentation of key themes, works and installations. Over 60 works from nearly two decades will be presented.

The exhibition will create a theoretical yet visually striking base from which to view the precision, continuity and beauty of his work. The visitor of the exhibition will be induced by the clarity of color and materials combined with brittle, brilliant views. A seductive poetry of words meets formal rigor and seriality. All this produces a game with light and reflection – both literal and historical. The work provokes fundamental questions about the possibilities and function of art in our social reality. The New York and London-based artist‘s work is not limited to a single artistic medium. His multifaceted practice plays an important role in providing a critical reflection of our aesthetic expectations. Liam Gillick has also produced an extensive body of critical writing, essays, reviews, fictional texts and more recently theatrical scenarios. Gillick creates exhibitions that transform the places of art into spaces that appeal to our senses, provoke a re-thinking of art that plays a central role in rethinking the aesthetics of the recent past and near future.

TAKING A LOT OF LONG WALKS ON A LOT OF SHORT PIERS

WHY ONE LONG WALK TWO SHORT PIERS?
Because one long walk on one short pier means someone is going to get wet.

WHO IS THE CAT THIS TIME?
It is not a cat. It is a sad logo for an exhibition. Like you might get for a sports event. It is maybe a provincial soccer mascot for a team that can’t play.

WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT THE ART AND EXHIVITION HALL ?
In wintertime there is a sticker on the door that shows an ice-skating boot with a line through it. It means “No ice-skates in the gallery.” I had never thought of wearing ice-skates in a gallery before, but in Bonn it is a real risk.

TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE TITLE
It describes a way of working. It indicates a desire to start at the wrong end and work backwards. Keep walking in circles or even taking the same route more than once.

SO THAT’S WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?
It is an exhibition that is somewhat retrospective in quality. It brings together and recreates a number of key installations from the last ten years. This is punctuated by other works that are installed as a counterpoint to the larger structures.

AND WHAT ABOUT VENICE?
Well, the work from the German Pavilion in Venice will be here. To show that it was also intended to function independently of the building in Venice. I had tried to dispose of the obsession with that building by making a model of Arnold Bode’s 1950s proposal for a new building early in my working process. But naturally the building once again became the star and the problem. So the Venice structure will be in Bonn to show how it might function in my context rather than the context of an international show permanently marred by unresolved tensions with the past – and not just for Germany.

SO THE CAT WILL SPEAK AGAIN?
This time in German.

WHO WILL DO THE TRANSLATION?
It was already translated in Venice and the cat held the text in its mouth.

WHY IS THE BONN CAT SO SAD WHEN THE VENICE CAT SEEMED SO SMUG?
It can’t wear its ice skates in the building. And the Venice cat was not smug. It was a voice. A device like an MP3 player or a history machine that could tell a story without being a dominant voice. There should be no speeches in that building. But a cat can cry.

AND IT HAS NO CLAWS?
I have no claws either and I don’t want any. But it has a The Art and Exhibition Hall hat. Like the hats that teenage tourists used to buy in London, Copenhagen or Amsterdam. The ones you wear when you piss in the street.

CAN I ASK YOU SOME SERIOUS QUESTIONS? DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR S A POST-MEDIUM SPECIFICITY ART PRACTICE?
While the idea of post-medium specificity is “true” it also does not account for enough. It does not, in this fragmented form, carry enough about what we might term the contingency of materials – the specificities of material relationships in various contexts. Therefore I am not post-medium. I don’t think you should become too concerned about the material and medium. I always think in relation to material facts, meaning I don’t ever think of an “effect” or an “idea” and then try to find a way of expressing that via a material choice. The relation between materials and ideas is linked absolutely. Subject interaction is assumed by the type of work produced. I assume that a person will do book-like things with a book and sit on a seat-like object. But they can also put the book on a table or in their pocket or they can just look at the seat. Yes, the medium is a social relationship. Because I am using forms and materials that have an existing function and set of associations in the world. I
am not trying to create sublime structures.

HOW DO YOU THINK OF COLOR IN RELATION TO FORM? OR GRIDS FOR THAT MATTER?
I am a color picker. Working with RAL systems on a computer screen, which is a system. Therefore my relationship with color is already one that derives from a form – the computer. Before I had that system to work from there was no colour.

YOU’VE ASKED IN A WORK FROM THE MID-2000S, “HOW DO YOU REPRESENT A CRISIS IN A CULTURE THAT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE A CRISIS?”
During the 1930s modernism in art became kitschy and “postmodern” stylistically – thinking of Picabia and Picasso’s period of classical references – I am not sure I can draw a precise link in art between moments of crisis and “good” works. Because we see the rise of this same kitschy allegorical work today. It is a myth that good art works will prevail in a crisis. There are of course obligations to operate differently but these are always affected by the legacy of a desire for autonomy in modernism which means that artists often act counter-intuitively. The question is really about the semiotics of the built world. The relation between work, life and labour. The work is about modes of production not consumption.

Parts of this interview conducted by Michael Meredith in december 2009, Associate Professor of Architecture at Harvard University.

Catalogue

Liam Gillick
One long walk... Two short piers
(Ein langer Spaziergang... Zwei kurze Stege...)
Hardcover
Format 24,5 x 28 cm
256 pages with ca. 500 color illustrations
bilingual edition (German/English)
Museum edition: 29 EUR
Trade edition: 68 EUR
Snoeck Verlag, Cologne
ISBN 978-3-940953-40-7

Cataloguecover: Liam Gillick
Show bibliography
Illustrations

    Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

    Museumsmeile Bonn
    Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 4
    53113 Bonn
    T +49 228 9171–200

    Opening hours

    Mondays closed
    Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
    Thursdays–Sundays, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
    (including public holidays even those which fall on Mondays)

    Gefördert durch