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came to a better conclusion about how to resolve their designs, without the need for any art” (Gillick, Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics 61 uses is “scenar io,” and to an extent his ent ire output is governed by an idea of
“scenar io t hinking” as a way to env isage change in t he world—not as a t argeted
cr it ique of t he present order, but “to examine t he extent to which cr it ical access
is possible at all.”25 It is wort h not ing t hat alt hough Gillick’s wr it ing is frust ratingly int angible —full of deferr al and possibilit y, r at her t han t he present and
actual—he has been inv ited to t roubleshoot pr act ical project s, such as a t r afﬁc
system for Por sche in Stuttgart , and to design intercom systems for a housing project in Brussels. Gillick is t ypical of his gener at ion in ﬁnding no conﬂict bet ween
t his t ype of work and convent ional “white cube” exhibit ions; bot h are seen as
ways to cont inue his invest igat ion into hypot het ical future “scenar ios.” Rat her
t han determining a speciﬁc outcome, Gillick is keen to t r igger open- ended alternat ives to which ot her s may cont r ibute. The middle ground, t he compromise, is
what interest s him most .
I have chosen to discuss the examples of Gillick and Tiravanija because they
seem to me t he clearest expression of Bourr iaud’s argument t hat relat ional art
pr ivileges inter subject ive relat ions over det ached opt icalit y. Tiravanija insist s that
the viewer be physically present in a part icular situat ion at a part icular t ime — eating t he food t hat he cooks, along side ot her v isitor s in a communal situat ion.
Gillick alludes to more hypot het ical relat ions, which in many cases don’t even
need to exist , but he st ill insist s that the presence of an audience is an essent ial
component of his art : “My work is like the light in the fr idge,” he says, “it only
works when there are people there to open the fr idge door. Without people, it’s
not art— it’s something else — stuff in a room.”26 This interest in the cont ingencies
o f a “ r e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n ”— r a t h e r t h a n t h e o b j e c t i t s e l f — i s a h a l l m a r k o f
Gillick’s work and of his interest in collaborat ive pract ice as a whole.
This idea of consider ing the work of art as a potent ial tr igger for part icipat ion
is hardly new — think of Happenings, Fluxus instruct ions, 1970s per formance art ,
and Joseph Beuys’s declarat ion that “ever yone is an art ist .” Each was accompanied
by a rhetor ic of democracy and emancipat ion that is ver y similar to Bourr iaud’s Renovat ion Filter, p. 21). One cr it ic has dismissed this mode of working as “corporate feng shui” (Max
Andrews, “Liam Gillick,” Contemporar y 32, p. 73), drawing attent ion to the ways in which the proposed
changes were pr imar ily cosmet ic rather than structural. Gillick would reply that the appearance of our
environment condit ions our behavior, and so the t wo are indivi...
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This document was uploaded on 02/20/2014 for the course PHILOSOPHY 244 at University of Tennessee.
- Spring '09