The Work Life Effect: Liam Gillick at Gwangju Museum of Art
The Work Life Effect is a major solo exhibition by Liam Gillick. It is his first solo Museum exhibition in Asia. The exhibition brings together major themes in the work that have developed over the last thirty years. The ground floor spaces of the museum, including the lobby, are completely transformed into an immersive space that combines key elements that are the foundation of the artist’s work.
The theme of the exhibition continues an interest in questions of production, various modes of work and an endless search for a contemporary abstraction. The title directly refers to this, alluding to the complex tension and harmony between work and life. The Work Life effect proposes a zone where we sense the effects of the slow merging of work and life that has accelerated in the digital period and under the conditions of the pandemic. The exhibition does not directly illustrate such processes, rather it evokes a twilight mood of lights, forms and affects that bring forward how emotional and formal aspects of perception and experience are altered when we are subjected to new modes of existence.
The exhibition suggests both exterior and interior spaces. In this zone we see large equations glowing on the walls, as if the analytical data surrounding us were visible. Replacing the neon lights of a city at night with tools to calculate human happiness. Lights moving up and down mark the entrance to the space creating waves of shadows that move while we remain still. Two large architectural spaces are constructed inside the museum – with all other museum walls removed. They operate as semi-autonomous zones – neither within or without the museum itself. These two spaces within a space contain two paradoxical aspects of the artist’s work, namely abstraction in tension with a poetics of social life, experience and struggle. Both spaces resemble store fronts or enormous display cases. Brightly lit they appear to have glazed facades. However the glass is an illusion and one can easily step into them. The first contains a new series of abstract “fins” and “horizons”. These abstract wall based works allude to distinctly contemporary elements we find in the built world of architecture, industry and communication. The works have evolved from an earlier focus on false ceilings and dividing screens to evoke the cooling fins, server arrays and vents that are the circulatory organs of the built world. The second contains the work “Factories in the Snow (Il Tempo Postino)” (2007) an important work that comprises a digital player piano and a snow machine. Originally the piano played the artist attempting to perfect the folk song played to announce the beginning of the 1974 Portuguese Revolution against the military government.
An important aspect of the exhibition extends to the lobby of the museum and the Book lounge area. These spaces will be furnished with low tables and stools that provide spaces for informal gathering, study and research. A program of education, performance and video streaming will be produced in these spaces and in the exhibition itself.