This fall, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago
, presents Three Perspectives and a Short Scenario, the final installment of a multi-part exhibition project by four international art museums on the work of acclaimed British artist Liam Gillick, running from October 10, 2009, to January 10, 2010. Gillick emerged in the early 1990s as part of a re-energized British art scene, producing a sophisticated body of work ranging from his signature "platform" sculptures -- architectural structures made of aluminum and colored Plexiglas that play with social interaction -- to wall paintings, text sculptures, and published texts that reflect on social, cultural, and political systems of authority and how they manifest themselves in art, architecture, and graphic design. As a complement to his art exhibit, Gillick also takes on the role of a curator in Liam Gillick Curates the MCA Collection, on view from October 17, 2009 to January 10, 2010.
Liam Gillicks work breaks through visual art boundaries, with architectural, structural, and spatial interventions that incorporate minimalist objects, graphic works, and wall paintings. He also produces extensive literary texts -- from essays and reviews, to fictional futurist visions and historical reinterpretations -- along with composing film music and creating theatrical scenarios. In all of these forms of expression, Gillick's work is an ongoing study of structures that shape our cultural and political reality. He uses them as a vocabulary of forms, examining history and questioning how art is used to advance social and ideological agendas. Gillick remarks, "The question really is how do you find a working method or a working, productive context within which ideas can be produced? And that's really the key."
Liam Gillick: Three Perspectives and a Short Scenario is an unprecedented collaboration between four international art institutions. As an investigation into Gillicks practice and an in-depth study of his work to date, the exhibition adopts a different form at each museum. First, the Kunsthalle Zurich presented a solo show that ran parallel to his exhibit at the Witte de With in Rotterdam; this was followed by a scenario at Kunstverein München; and concludes with the exhibition at the MCA, organized by MCA Curator Dominic Molon.
The exhibitions are divided equally between the artists contribution -- a network of dark gray architectural screens and gray carpet structuring the exhibition space; a projection of slides that charts his art projects throughout his career, based on documents of his projects from 1988 up to the «unitednationplaza» project in Berlin which he recently completed; and a vitrine featuring his graphic designs and publications -- and a contribution determined by the curator of each venue. The exhibitions also have a uniform conceptual premise: a poster of a comic figure, one created for each institution, greeting visitors at the entrance.
These exhibitions collectively form a self-critical mid-career survey of Gillicks work that questions and contemplates the relationship between the museum and the artist. At the Witte de With, a series of emerging artists projects were presented within his exhibition to evoke his collective practice; the Kunsthalle Zurich focused on ephemeral and performance-based work; and in Munich, the Scenario featured a staged theatrical production. The MCAs perspective features a single, major representation of Gillicks object and installation-based work, transforming the ceiling of one of the MCAs main floor spaces into a grid of radiant color by replacing the 576 lighting panels with multi-colored transparent and opaque Plexiglas.
His work joins a generation of artists including Rirkrit Tiravanija, Jorge Pardo, Dominque Gonzalez-Foerster, and Andrea Zittel, who come to define "relational aesthetics," an idea that emphasizes the shifting social role and function of art at the turn of the millennium. Gillick's work has had a profound impact on a contemporary understanding of the influence of art and architecture on interpersonal communication and interactions in the public space.
Born in England in 1964, Liam Gillick graduated from Goldsmiths College, University of London, in 1987, and currently lives and works in London and New York. He was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 2002, and has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and The Power Plant, Toronto (2003); the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and ICA London (2005); and his work has been featured in important group exhibitions such as the Tate Triennial (2006), the 50th Venice Biennale (2003), and Documenta X (1997). He represented Germany in this year's Venice Biennale.