Liam Gillick - Sit On The Machine

27 October - 3 December 2011


How can an exhibition reflect the gallery as an idealised site of display, without disregarding the ambiguous relations between art, industry and spectatorship? With SIT ON THE MACHINE, Liam Gillick puts viewers on the spot: should they choose to direct their gaze at apparently autonomous art objects, their back will automatically turn on a textual commentary on the problem of "work" at large.

A number of brightly coloured museum-like benches sit in the centre of the room. A place for either contemplation or relaxation is recommended. From that place, you can see a series of small abstract wall structures and one near-continuous wall text, but never in the same glance. These translated passages from activist songs and plays are taken from artistʼs ongoing draft text of the book Construction of One, on which he has been working since 2005.

The two films on view ultimately tie SIT ON THE MACHINE, to his concurrent exhibition at Air De Paris. In contrast to the romanticized vision presented in the filmed tour of the Kalmar Volvo factory, shot in the early 1970s, the car workers in the second film have explicitly become part of the machine.

Liam Gillick: "You can see that in my work thereʼs a constant dualism, which is between the desire to retain a ghost of a broken structure – to maintain some kind of semi-autonomous art object that can be differentiated from everything else by its 'art' quality, and at the same time, to use many of the things that we've used, like research, project-based structures and stepping out into documentary methodology to think about questions of production in the broader context".

Over the past years, British artist Liam Gillick (b. 1964) has exhibited in museums and art centres throughout the world, such as MOMA (New York), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Whitechapel Gallery (London), Kunsthalle Zurich, Kunstverein München, MCA (Chicago), and Witte de With (Rotterdam). He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2002 and the Vincent Award at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 2008. Gillick has published a number of texts that function in parallel to his artwork, and has contributed to several art magazines and journals including Parkett, Frieze, Art Monthly, October and Art Forum. Liam Gillick was selected to represent Germany for the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. A major exhibition of his work opened at the Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in April 2010.