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The one hundred and sixty-third floor: Liam Gillick Curates the Collection


Kerry James Marshall, Cub Scout, 1995. Acrylic and mixed media on canvas mounted on board; 34 1/2 x 34 1/2 in. (87.6 x 87.6 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of the Susan and Lewis Manilow Collection of Chicago Artists, 2003.31. © 1995 Kerry James Marshall

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago


Liam Gillick curates a small selection of works from the MCA Collection as a complement to his major solo survey exhibition. The collection exhibition provides an institutional and historical context for the presentation of Gillick’s own work while bringing an unexpected approach to presenting the collection into play. Over the past 20 years, Gillick has created a multi-dimensional body of work characterized by an ongoing study of the aesthetic aspects of social systems, focusing on how and why those aspects are produced rather than used and consumed. He emerged in the early 1990s along with artists such as Rirkrit Tiravanija, Philippe Parreno, and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster who were similarly dedicated to developing work that focused on the contingent and contradictory nature of contemporary social relations and extended the techniques and strategies of conceptual art.

Gillick’s work frequently questions the procedures and logic of institutional frameworks, an aspect of his practice that heavily informs his process of selecting and presenting works from the MCA Collection. The exhibition reflects his fascination with the role of the collection within the museum, especially in the way that artists whose careers have developed less prominently than others are still represented in such a major institution’s holdings and the circumstances involved in each case. While this sensibility provides the rationale by which Gillick selects the work for the exhibition, he also intends to reconsider the manner in which works are described and interpreted in the wall text for the exhibition by making that aspect of the presentation more pronounced. The exhibition ultimately underscores the degree to which the subjectivities of curators and collectors of a specific museum have affected the seemingly objective way that the MCA Collection has been historically composed, and is continuously presented and understood.

Liam Gillick (b. 1964, Aylesbury, England) represented Germany at the 53rd Venice Biennale. He was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2002 and has had solo exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, and the Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Malaga, Spain; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Whitechapel Art Gallery. His work has been featured in such important group exhibitions as the Tate Triennial, the 50th Venice Biennale, and Documenta X.

The one hundred and sixty-third floor: Liam Gillick Curates the Collection is coordinated by MCA Curator Dominic Molon and MCA Curatorial Assistant Michael Green.