Liam Gillick: The Commune Itself Becomes a Super State

Artvehicle 13/Recommended

9th March 2007 — 7th April 2007

(1) The title of this show is taken from a piece of the same name, and it acts as a backdrop to the sparse, sound-bouncing space at Corvi Mora. I refrained from reading the press release for ____ reasons: This massive statement (at least in physical scale) seemed to me more a resolution rather than proclamation and I wanted to give myself time to discern how the artist arrived at this point. Another reason for staving off a ready way in is that I had a suspicion that, with much of Gillick's work, the ideas clinging to his sculptures and text works could not be so easily explained in a 'one-pager'. It wasn't.

(1.1) "THE COMMUNE ITSELF BECOMES A SUPER STATE relates to Liam Gillick's recent research into developments within European social democracies in regard to production rather than consumption," we are told. "[H]istorical attempts of modernism," it goes on "are combined in a series of works that work in parallel to the potential of a critical text",

(2) Two freestanding aluminium frames with coloured Plexiglas sit parallel to one another in the very centre of the space. These physical structures - impeccably finished, precise and polished - are positioned very deliberately parallel to the black vinyl text on the back wall. To the side, 40 painted aluminium panels jut out of the wall, equally spaced from one another. We have severe planes here. All this precision points up the imperfections in the freshly painted floor and the orange-peel white emulsion walls. I feel distinctly scruffy.

(2.1) The titles of individual works seem to bear little relation to that which they correspond. However, collectively Returning to an Abandoned Plant, Redundancy Following Closure, and Closed Reopened Closed Again (Uddevalla), does invoke something in the way of a political narrative, of place/non-place (Uddevalla, has experienced considerable economic ups and downs, as wells as being appointed the dullest city in Sweden). The choice of materials, enamel spray-painted aluminium and color-impregnated Plexiglas, too hint at industrial manufacturing processes and mass consumption. Perhaps the materiality is central to Gillick's work, but unlike Judd before him, in this case it could simply be seen as a vehicle for the 'real' work.

(3) The positioning of each piece must have been done with a set-square - the hard right angles of the physical structures set adjacent to one another makes for several exciting vistas as one moves around the gallery space. It also confirms Gillick as a consummate colourist and it is hard to dismiss the modernist aesthetic of le Corbusier and Mondrian in his compositions.

(4) My cough echoes profoundly and the noise, along with the harsh halogen lights, exacerbates my already pronounced hangover. I feel very much as if I am outside this work. I see another human in the space - with a cold, with white acrylic-rimmed spectacles and an aptly co-ordinated burgundy anorak. His presence brings a refreshing dimension to the work, but the pseudo-modulor structures still seem to resist the viewer (although the work in totality is by no means repellent). Aided by gut-rot, this was the closest I got to Gillick's subtext.


Corvi Mora
1a Kempsford Road
London SE11 4N

Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-6pm