Gillick Chapter 5

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S.R.: When I want to draw a connection between minimalism and your work, maybe there is one connection point that is very strong but it's a different interpretation. Because when I say the minimalists – when I generalize - are very strongly interested in a process of democratization of the art object. They wanted to have similar experience of the object in the space and they wanted to break with traditional forms of reception of sculpture and art in the artistic space. And I think to that point it's very strongly related – when I`m allowed to say that - it`s related to your installations, your environments and there is another point if I see it right. You quoted Siegelaub's statement in a text where you wrote- it was the last sentence of the whole review: «It is more important to send artists to exhibitions than to send art«.

L.G.: Absolutely. But I mean that`s a kind of... - You could argue that Seth always said something in the end but it's a kind of pioneering statement, it's a slightly hybristic kind of rhetoric but I still believe in the principle of it. However, it's quite clear from the way I've worked that I also believe that the research quality of what an artist does or the concrete presence of a physical intervention is sometimes socially crucial. Partly because I've watched the manipulations of the cultural field by people whose interests are not progressive, and there has been an embracing of a kind of neo-conceptual strategies by a neo-liberal consensus, especially the more sophisticated side of it which makes it very, very difficult to completely go along with that kind of statement. You have to constantly revise your position in order to compete with the anarchy of capitalism and the chaotic opportunism of those structures. A few years ago I was invited to come to an advisory panel of the City of Westminster in London which is traditionally... – It`s always one of these classic political structures where it's politically right-wing but socially, artistically and culturally liberal because it's London. Therefore you have this problem that they do quite socially destructive things yet they support the arts, they support culture. And they were very excited because they were coming up with a new art-strategy for the city. Historically they've been obliged to do certain things that leave a physical mark on the city. That leave a record of some action that's different from our everyday experience. Now they'd become very excited about the fact that they had realized what people were doing. Once again their work was dematerializing more and more, and they were excited about the possibility that they could stop fulfilling their concrete physical obligation to concretely and physically show cultural and artistic intervention into the city and they could replace it by projects, documentaries, temporary things, conceptual work. And they had thought that I would be very excited about this and very interested. Of course to a certain extent it seems superficially a very progressive position but in fact what they were trying to do was to make sure the streets and the public spaces were cleared of any physical evidence. So that it could become a free zone for their continued partnerships with corporate interests. That's why these things become very complicated for me and that's why there was a clear decision I made in 1995 that the way I work doesn't really carry the same... - The physical nature of the things that sometimes get produced to go alongside all the other things I'm interested in. It is significant what they are and how they are made and how they look and where they are. There was a point up to about 1995 - before I didn't care. I improvised almost entirely, and I didn't know who made the work. It didn`t matter. Things were not important. And it was only when I came into contact with a large, friendly, complicated corporate environment that I realized I had to change because I had given them the trust, I had trusted them to execute work on my behalf. And ironically this is the strange thing. They had over-executed it, they had over-determined it, they had made it even more art-like than I had ever intended it to be, and that's when I realized that these fine lines that I try to get within the work in these negotiated positions are significant in themselves and they are important and crucial to the work, and it's not just a question of: Here's the basic idea and you do it for me. It doesn't always work. Things are more complicated than that. And I realized recently you can date it to June 1995, this sudden change. I became more interested in planning. In this kind of rhetorical game that you play with yourself, in this whole sort of inner dialogue you are always having, I realized that some of the tensions historically that I was interested in were not necessarily the big broadly written arguments between left and right or nationalism and internationalism but were more subtle to do with questions like the battle between planning and speculation. And I realized that the way I had been working, had only ever embraced a speculative model. If you only improvize you can have some nice warm and friendly, fuzzy nostalgia to the idea of improvisation as a better way to do things which is connected to a rather 1950s idea of expression. I realized I was actually potentially more interested in the idea of planning. Maybe the more morally and ethically complicated and difficult thing to do would be to try and adress the question of planning. So you notice a sudden change in the work where suddenly it`s more and it`s evidence of planning that I started to pre-consider, to check, to research more, to apply the research to a situation and not just go and improvize. That's the dilemma within what you can call classical conceptual art too. There's a constant subplot to all of it about the execution of the work despite everything. And I think it is not necessarily interesting to a broader public. But it`s something that is like one of those kind of internal struggles within any kind of group of people you want to change something or do something. It's about methods and image and which direction to go in. So I think that was definitely a key, this shift to trying to adress the question of planning, in tension, in relation to this idea of speculation. When you look at Berlin you can say that speculation won. You look at the city that was planned in two halfs. Cause both of the halfs planned, they both did plans So what we gonna do, now speculation won essentially and this has very strong social effects. It has been the case also in Britain for various reasons and various situations. These are the things that exercise me. When you see things in the work that appear to be like design, that appear to be like this or that. Often what they are really adressing are these other kind of auto-focus issues: renovation, speculation, compromise, strategy. They are not pictures of it but their environments where you might find a kind of non-space we could start to re-consider some of these ideas at best.


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