The arrangement of works for Liam Gillick and Louise Lawler’s current show at Casey Kaplan in New York is an interesting one: long strings of Gillick’s text hang from the ceilings of the space, while long, blurred images from Lawler’s archival image collection are stretched across the walls. It seems an almost deliberate attempt to escape the stationary logic of the art object, constantly forcing the viewer to move between rooms and works, always reappraising position and meaning as they go.
It’s not the first time the artists have worked in a collaborative format. Lawler has recently worked with Allan McCollum and Sherrie Levine, while Gillick is coming off an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp, with Lawrence Weiner. Even, the pair take on a relatively hands-off approach to the collaboration. Gillick’s works rarely cross paths with Lawler’s, and instead the duo seem to enjoy taking their respective coordinates in the room, allowing any intersection to occur in the viewer’s head.
Taken from an imagined book on the first Volvo plant at Kalmar, Sweden, Gillick’s cut aluminum words discuss the socialist practices of the Swedish auto company, and are spread throughout the gallery, moving in tight rows down the walls and across the ceiling of each room. The intersection with Lawler’s work comes through the directions and vectors each piece encourages. Following along the lines and gradients running the length of the space’s walls, one’s reading of the text, no longer read in a linear process, is scrambled. Through Gillick’s atomized language, the viewer is empowered to assemble the work as they see fit, taking control of linguistic production in much the same way that the works reference the divided nature of mechanistic production.
In another experiment with spatial responses to the work, Lawler uses her “pushed and pulled” works as a way to experiment with the effect of space on the image itself. Spreading her works the full length of the room it’s shown in, her installation explores the dimensions of a room as the parameters for experiencing a series of colors and shapes. Considering Gillick’s works in close proximity, her long slurs of imagery become an interruption of sorts, but one that disrupts the reading of the work more than the depiction of the work itself. While the works remain content in their respective positions, the pair of artists embrace a structure for exhibition that studies the interlocking textual possibilities offered by the reader in space.
Creatively subverting processes of meaning and labor, Lawler and Gillick’s exhibition is on view until December 21st.
— D. Creahan
Casey Kaplan [Exhibition Site]
“Artists Liam Gillick and Louise Lawler’s work comes together at Casey Kaplan in New York” [Wallpaper]
“Pithy Takes on Gillick and Lawler, Riley, and More” [Art Info]
“Liam Gillick/Louise Lawler” [New York Times]