Were People This Dumb Before TV? A Curated Selection from the Graphic Archive 1990–2017

Liam Gillick
July 2 – August 12, 2017

Exhibition view: Rooms 1 and 2

Were People This Dumb Before TV? A Curated Selection from the Graphic Archive 1990–2017, 2017

Esther Schipper, Berlin

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Rooms 1 and 2

Were People This Dumb Before TV? A Curated Selection from the Graphic Archive 1990–2017, 2017

Esther Schipper, Berlin

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Rooms 1, 2, and 5

Were People This Dumb Before TV? A Curated Selection from the Graphic Archive 1990–2017, 2017

Esther Schipper, Berlin

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Room 2

Were People This Dumb Before TV? A Curated Selection from the Graphic Archive 1990–2017, 2017

Esther Schipper, Berlin

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Design For The Side Of A Building (Were People This Dumb Before TV?), 2000
Lambda-Print

Liam Gillick uses language as oblique reference but also as strategic tool. This phrase is a recurring motif that the artist first used in his 1997 book DISCUSSION ISLAND: BIG CONFERENCE CENTRE. The following year he exhibited the text work on the wall as a post-textual device in relation to the project in general in the group exhibition LIAM GILLICK, JOHN MILLER, JOE SCANLAN at RAK in Vienna. Since then it has recurred, in English and French, as poster, design for a wall banner, cover design for the magazine ArtMonthly, and the digital magazine Fly and also as wall work in several of the artist’s solo exhibitions.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Rooms 3 and 2 (through the doorway)

Were People This Dumb Before TV? A Curated Selection from the Graphic Archive 1990–2017, 2017

Esther Schipper, Berlin

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Dear Diary, 2017

Inkjet print on paper

 

Each of the prints in this 10 part series has a set of four basic geometric figures visible in white on a monochromatic background. A small outline of a standard Martini glass is added to the geometric shapes. The number of glasses increases within the series: first one than two, three, etc. until the Martini glasses create a pattern themselves. Against the dynamic background, the motif at first appears as one of the small interstices left white in the background. As the number increases this effect decreases and the triangular shapes seem to compete with the much larger geometric shapes. The artist playfully refers to Gestalt-based pattern recognition often used in psychological tests.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Rooms 5, 3, and 4 (from left to right)

Were People This Dumb Before TV? A Curated Selection from the Graphic Archive 1990–2017, 2017

Esther Schipper, Berlin

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Bar “Volvo” II, 2010
Digital Fine Art Pigment Print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag, white, 100% Hadern 308 g

This print is part of a set of 16 black and white prints that each features a distinct motif. The short texts are extracts from the scripted performance Mirrored Image: A Volvo Bar, 2008.

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Rooms 6, 5, and 4 (from front to back)

Were People This Dumb Before TV? A Curated Selection from the Graphic Archive 1990–2017, 2017

Esther Schipper, Berlin

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Significant Places, 2017
Inkjet print on paper

This work is part of a 13 part series of prints pairing the name of a location (designating a city or district, in this case the name of a neighborhood housing cooperative in the Dutch city The Hague) with a date. The series takes as point of departure a list of important architectural sites for which Gillick noted its place and date but not the name of the specific structure nor their architect. 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Rooms 10, 11, 12, and 3 (from front to back)

Were People This Dumb Before TV? A Curated Selection from the Graphic Archive 1990–2017, 2017

Esther Schipper, Berlin

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Exhibition view: Room 12

Were People This Dumb Before TV? A Curated Selection from the Graphic Archive 1990–2017, 2017

Esther Schipper, Berlin

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Were People This Dumb Before TV? A Curated Selection from the Graphic Archive 1990–2017

Liam Gillick
July 2 – August 12, 2017
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Esther Schipper is pleased to announce Liam Gillick’s ninth solo exhibition with the gallery. Titled Were People This Dumb Before TV? A Curated Selection from the Graphic Archive, 1990–2017 the exhibition gives a comprehensive overview of Gillick’s extensive graphic work which has been an integral part of his practice since the early 1990s. The artist has produced a wide range of graphic material, including prints, posters, books, magazine covers and inserts, invitation cards (both for his own exhibitions and those of others), maps, logos and identities, both for public institutions and commercial art galleries. Conceived as a living archive, in addition to new and existing editions, the exhibition will create a set of reference prints of lost or difficult to source works. 

 

Including more or less oblique references to the major research projects that have fueled Gillick’s work, among them McNamara, Erasmus is Late, Literally No Place, Construcción de Uno, A Volvo Bar and Why Work?, these projects have constituted an integral element of the artist’s critical position. Starting in the early 1990s he has focused upon the aesthetics of ideological control systems rooted in the development of a client citizenry. He plays with the codes that have placed us into a set of relationships with the managed state and precipitated multiple layers of disenfranchisement. Radically contingent and contextual, the references can be textual or graphic—picking up for example on the use of pattern or diagrams in corporate settings and thereby addressing the dysfunctional aspects of the modernist legacy as it has been deployed over the last thirty years.

 

The exhibition structure is derived from the artist's recollection of the Vienna apartment in the lane Stoß im Himmel that he often borrowed in the 1990s and early 2000s. This memory space serves as a central structuring element within the exhibition space and an appropriate presentation device echoing the informal locations where much of this material was conceived and produced. 

 

Liam Gillick’s work ranges from small books to large-scale architectural collaborations; it includes public commissions, abstract structures, films, audio, graphics and writing. His practice exists in a constant tension between his formally minimalistic works that reflect upon the implications of advanced social and political aesthetics and his critical approach through writing and the use of text. This approach is brought together in a continual testing of the conventions of the exhibition as form. Since the late 2000s, Gillick has produced a number of short films that address the construction of the creative persona in light of the enduring mutability of the contemporary artist as a cultural figure—a central them in his 2016 book Industry and Intelligence (Columbia University Press).

 

Gillick uses a wide-ranging vocabulary to knowingly question the role art may play in society and how aesthetics are a political issue in the neo-liberal economy. His artworks place the viewer in an implicated role and designate spaces where it might be possible to rethink the way the built world intersects with modes of critique. 

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