Installation view, Liam Gillick, Scorpion or Felix, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Maag Areal, Zurich, 2012
Galerie Eva Presenhuber is pleased to present a new group of works by British artist Liam Gillick in an exhibition entitled “Scorpion or Felix”.
Since the late 1980s, Gillick has been working with texts and objects that seek to advance a constructive deciphering of the built environment, establishing relationships based sometimes on attraction, sometimes on repulsion. His oeuvre can be situated on the threshold between deliberate planning of architectural space and chance-based processes of adaptation and speculative change.
Accordingly, Gillick’s new works can be approached and viewed in various ways, raising questions, providing answers, and documenting simple elegance:
A room is divided into two sections by a long wall. In the wall are eight openings placed at regular intervals, each of which can be opened and shut by means of a sliding door. Using these many-colored sliding door elements, the space can be constantly varied, adapting to the different behaviors of its visitors and viewers. The simple, elegant architectural form of the sliding door becomes the catalyst and central element of an experience of hypothetical space.
The text from which the exhibition takes its title, “Scorpion und Felix”, is by Karl Marx, the manuscript for a humorous novel of which only fragments have survived. Three central figures – Scorpion, Felix and Merten – are presented. The character of Merten in particular is developed in detail. Rather than a straightforward description, Marx explores the possible meanings of his name. In a range of ways, from academic-cum-etymological to ironic, he examines the links between character traits and historico-philosophical speculations.
Taken together, these elements create a play of possibilities and probabilities, of dislocation and reassessment, of trust and skepticism. It is these many and varied possibilities of meaning that Gillick is interested in, postulating assumptions and then rejecting them in favor of others, testing their value in multiple respects. Finally, it should be noted, in the spirit of Gillick’s work as a whole, that this description of the connection between the work produced by the artist and Marx’s text is only one of many possible versions and that it may be a total misunderstanding.