Liam Gillick: 'One long walk... Two short piers...' in Bonn, Germany

Art Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn presents 60 works by the conceptual artist Liam Gillick from recent 20 years.   Liam Gillick graduated from Goldsmiths College, London, in 1987, when it produced a large number of YBA - young British artists - like Damien Hirst or the Chapman brothers.   Gillick's work, however, lacks the shocking elements of many of his classmates: There are no dead sharks, no porn kids or the like.   Mr. Gillick produces objects of an all too seductive beauty, prints, paintings, texts and curates exhibitions. He says, 'My work is like the light in the fridge, it only works when there are people there to open the fridge door

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. Without people it's not art - it's something else - stuff in a room.'
Liam Gillick: 'Volvo Bar', of 2008; performance/installation made of wood, MDF, vinyl letters and textile material; dimensions variable; Courtesy Esther Schipper, Berlin and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich; performance at the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn; © the artist and Foto: David Ertl, 2010/Bundeskunsthalle


In the show, there is the installation and performance 'A Volvo Bar' of 2008: A group of people leans on colorful IKEA-style MDF objects and reads a text - all by Liam Gillick. The text is a typical nonsense bar conversation of regular bar goers. At a certain point you realize that the bar is set in Kalmar, Sweden, where an innovative project to produce Volvo cars failed in the 1970s. The beautiful industrially made objects confront the lost utopia of over-idealized ways of production and the banality of every day life.



Liam Gillick: 'The State itself becomes a super what not'; installation view at the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn 2010; © Liam Gilllick, 2010 and © foto by David Ertl, 2010 / Bundeskunsthalle


Another piece of his work series 'Construción de Uno' is 'The Commune Itself becomes a Superstate' of 2007. There are colorful powder-coated aluminum and Plexiglas objects in the middle of the room. On the wall are the logo-like designed words of the title. Mr. Gillick charges this setting with a lot of critical text like 'Old questions of class struggle are initially difficult for them to focus upon and keep blurring, clarifying then shimmering away. As a result they shift the terms of engagement and use their applied theoretical work to try and restart and re-antagonize the relations of production.' (L.G. 2005) Isabelle Moffat writes in her catalogue text that in this way Liam Gillick's art helps us to unveil the viewer's prejustices about the appearance of critical art. Well, I do agree that Liam Gillick is a clever and innovative curator of shows.



Liam Gillick: 'How Are You Going to Behave? A Kitchen Cat Speaks' of 2009, installation view of wood, lamps, suffed cat, text, doorcurtains, mp3 player; (c) the artist and Bundeskunsthalle, Courtesy Casey Kaplan, New York and Esther Schipper, Berlin, © Foto: David Ertl, 2010 / Bundeskunsthalle


I especially dislike the installation 'How are you going to behave? A kitchen cat speaks.', which was his contribution for the 53rd Venice Biennial in 2009. He put an IKEA-style wood sculpture with the measurements of standardized kitchen furniture in the middle of the German pavilion. On top of it, there was a stuffed talking cat. To me, the cat talked mostly nonsense - probably, I did not get the irony there.


Yes, there were a number of references: The kitchen design of the classic 'Frankfurt kitchen' was invented by Margarethe Schütte-Lihotzky in 1926. The text suggests that Frankfurt also might be a reference to Theodor Adorno's philosophical School of Frankfurt, which fiercely argued for autonomy of art.



Liam Gillick: 'How Are You Going to Behave? A Kitchen Cat Speaks' of 2009, detail of installation view; entire installation made of wood, lamps, suffed cat, text, doorcurtains, mp3 player; (c) the artist and Bundeskunsthalle, Courtesy Casey Kaplan, New York and Esther Schipper, Berlin, © Foto: David Ertl, 2010 / Bundeskunsthalle


Adrian Searle wrote in the Guardian about this installation in Venice: 'I have no problem with the British artist Liam Gillick in the German pavillion - except the fact that he is such a dull artist.'


If Liam Gillick's art were all about curating a show and the (frustrated) expectations of the curators and the viewers, I would agree to Adrian Searle. However, I don't think this is his sole intention. The point I don't understand is: If Mr. Gillick really wants to get social interactions about these important questions of society, why does he make it so hard to access for the people? Or, is this one more cynical post-modern comment about the impossibility of social utopia?


by U.G.L.



Liam Gillick: 'One long walk... Two short piers...' at the Art Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn


Through 8th August 2010



Installation view of Marina Abramovic’s performance The Artist Is Present at The Museum of Modern Art, 2010. Photo by Scott Rudd. © 2010 Marina Abramovic. Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Hans, 07-09-10 09:37
I think his objects are very beautiful - however, I think his art has too much theory!
Christine, 17-09-10 12:14
The exhibition is soooo boaring!
Jaylon, 06-08-11 07:24
I love reading these artciles because they're short but informative.
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