Gillick Chapter 2

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S.R.: Exactly that was the interesting point for me to ask you to do this interview because I have a quotation about your work that characterizes this kind of view, this complex kind of working and practice as you do it. Maybe I just read it: Gillicks more conceptual-based projects are refreshingly distinct from the expressive sensationalism characteristics among his contemporaries. This is a kind of rhetoric that puts you in a 90s art-movement of British art but in the same way it characterizes you and your work. It characterizes a difference with your work.

L.G.: But one of the key differences is that a lot of the things that I do are not based on irony, I don't mean irony in a kind of humorous way but the fact that the work is not based on an ironic acknowledgement of the failure of modernism. You could argue that a lot of very simplistic anglosaxon post-modernism is based on a simple understanding of post-modernism as an ironic understanding of the failure of modernism. What's also interesting is that although that quote mentions the idea of expression and things like this... - It's also true that I don't think that the work I've done has ever been a pure appropriation of earlier conceptual strategies where you merely appropriate and turn, and make an earlier conceptual strategy more everyday or more straightforward in the manner of an artist like Jonathan Monk and Martin Creed or some of these other people that have come out of Britain, where it's much clearer that they take the total framework of an earlier conceptual project and merely replace the content of them. And through that replacing of the content you have a »You know that I know that you know« kind of process taking place. With other people that came out of this British context there is more of a psychological play. On one simplistic level you could argue that the work of Douglas Gordon often is a kind of taking the bones of earlier influences like James Coleman but adding this kind of slightly insidious psychological, destabilizing element that sort of undermines the more critical theory-aspects of that earlier work. Now I'm in a slightly different position partly because a lot of the basic... - My starting position was one of a combination of distraction and delusion. I needed to find ways to work that were not fixed in terms of certain understandings of what art should be. So my sense of my ironic relationship to modernism as it were or late moderism - I was never really convinced - I needed to test it if you know what I mean. I needed to test how do we know that this is the case. A good example of that would be the very early work I did with Henri Bond; we'd been through an education environment where we were told that we live in a completely relativistic society where everything is available to every artist to do whatever they want. All certainties are over and all collective strategies are off, and everything is open for question. And as a part of that images for example become unstable and their meanings become unstable – so what we were very curious about is - if we assume this to be a position that you can't tell the difference between one thing and another, how do things still get decided, how are politics still strategized? How are images still become powerful? How do things still progress in a way? They seem to, but how might this be? And so a lot of our work was about going back to this idea of research. So a lot of the work and also my work on my own ended up more about this idea of pre-production and post-production rather than the idea of the bit in the middle that reinforces a kind of post-modern truism. Can you see what I mean? There was very little point for me in doing that from an ironic perspective like ironically researching seemed to me a kind of... - There seemed so much territory that still could be investigated and played with, it didn't seem time to be ironic about it. But on the other hand I wouldn't say that the work or my position was really either coming from a complete, a very pure legacy of critical theory in the way that F. Dunley or some of the other artists around Nagel gallery in the early 90s were trying to adress the idea of transparency within the work and the idea of the documentary strategy to certain extent. So in a way it means that my position was always a little bit more meandering, a lot of stops and starts, a lot of changing of tag and sidestepping, trying to make multiple entry-points into the idea of the work. Trying to change the nature of the question what is the idea behind your work or to find new, multiple entry-points that people could have into any given kind of matrix of starting points. It's kind of hard to get a grip on it but it's crucial to understanding my position really.

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