The wreck of Eurocentric capitalism came babbling ashore in 2008. Five years on it is still babbling incoherently, but in a retroactive rather than speculative way; the economic wounds still haven’t turned to scars. But capitalism always babbles1. Built on the fluid components of production, distribution, speculation, changing hands of wealth, and not to forget self-interest, capitalism is as decisive as it is unpredictable; volatile as it is concrete; melody as it is malady. Within this babbling squall, between capitalism and art, lies Liam Gillick’s art practice.

With a combination of managerial speak, a lucid essay writing style, and allegorical coloured screens, partitions, ceilings, Gillick constructs a post-Fordist aesthetic that produces discourse with the same loquaciousness as a politician pleading his innocence in the face of suspected corruption. However, with all that has been written on Gillick’s art practice from a post-Fordist theoretical position2 there is a sense that this part of the conversation is almost exhausted: the Toyota is sputtering into submission. What is left from the tome of academic prose that has ‘audited’ every detail of Gillick’s praxis up to this date is a residue of competition from the writing, as if art historian and art critic alike were trying to compete with the bottomless tank of liquid discourse that Gillick continually tops up with every new artwork that connects with his last. What makes the artist’s praxis discursively self-perpetuating is its modularity and flexibility: Gillick’s post-Fordist aesthetic is as slippery as well-oiled capitalist consumption and production.

But, there is so much more to Gillick’s praxis than spreadsheet conceptualism. From time to time he presents scenario artworks that are wonderfully kooky, tautological even. Installed in the German Pavilion for the 2009 Venice Biennale, Gillick’s babbling animatronic cat filled to the whiskers with figure-8 logic – amidst a forest of hollow pine kitchen units – worked as a fine analogy of the unloved capitalist’s dependency on foresight. Gillick’s omnipotent feline was the animal who knew too much but was loved too little: sitting in the in-between space of the intellect and the sensuous – the space that Gillick’s art practice has inhabited for over twenty years.


The sprinklers are on...

‘For the doors that are welded shut’

Kerlin Gallery, Dublin

Friday 27 July - 14 September, 2013.

Liam Gillick, ‘For the doors that are welded shut’, 2013

Courtesy of the artist and Kerlin Gallery, Dublin.



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