Liam Gillick (b.1964) deploys varying media to expose the new ideological control systems that emerged at the beginning of the 1990s. His work extends into structural rethinking of the exhibition as a form. Gillick’s work has been included in numerous important exhibitions including documenta and the Venice, Berlin and Istanbul Biennales - representing Germany in 2009 in Venice. Solo museum exhibitions have taken place at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Tate in London. Gillick’s work is held in many important public collections including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Guggenheim Museum in New York and Bilbao and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Over the past twenty-five years Gillick has also been a prolific writer and contemporary art critic. He is the author of a number of books including a volume of his selected critical writing. His book Industry and Intelligence: Contemporary Art Since 1820 was published by Columbia University Press in March 2016.
Inspired by “All-Imitate-Act,” a work commissioned by the Stedelijk Museum for Amsterdam’s Museumplein (2015), Liam Gillick continues with his head-in-the-hole panel series for the Shanghai Project in Century Park. Known best for his work in the public domain, “Shanghai Schlemmer” challenges the relationship between the passive spectator and the physical object. The images displayed on the panel references the ballet costumes designed by visionary German choreographer, painter, graphic designer and sculptor Oskar Schlemmer (1888–1943). In stepping into the hole, the viewer completes the body of what Schlemmer once termed the “Dancer for the future...,” a reminder that the future was already envisioned in the past. Gillick reactivates these motifs and opens them onto the space and time of the public encounter.
In the age of the selfie, where the extended arm and even the selfie-stick has been developed to further proliferate self-portraits that induce a certain FOMO (fear of missing out) on social media platforms, Gillick uses an old device to counter-this culture. Derived from the pillory, an ancient punishment and public humiliation device, head-in-the-hole boards offer the willing public the chance to engage in a slapstick activity, offering comedic relief for both the head and the observer. By creating large boards that prevent even the maverick selfie-stick-user from capturing a photograph, the participating “head” is not only immortalized as one of Schlemmer’s dancers, but also is forced to engage the observer for the snapshot, providing the possibility to solicit the help of and even to issue forth dialogue with strangers.