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Liam

Gillick

Maybe it would
be better if
we worked in
groups of three?

h e r m e s l ec t u r e
Hermes Business Network & the Research Group of Visual Art,
AKV | St. Joost, Avans University

20 0 8

Maybe it would
be better if
we worked in
groups of three?

Liam Gillick Maybe it would be better if we worked in groups of three? her mes lectur e 20 08 .

Contents Inhoud H a ns Br ens Ca miel va n W inkel 7 Introduction Li a m Gillick 12 Maybe it would be better if we worked in groups of three? 34 Appendix .

the next decade witnessed a turn to an open (yet critical) orientation towards the social Umfeld of art.Introduction Hans Brens Camiel van Winkel On 9 November 2008. then again slightly dramatized insecurity about art’s place in the world. Rirkrit Tiravanija and others he was one of those who redefined the parameters of contemporary art in the 1990s. Together with contemporaries such as Philippe Parreno. collaboration and a focus on process were the more notable aspects of this trend. the English artist Liam Gillick will present the second in this series of theoretical artists’ lectures. Gillick. Interdisciplinarity. two years after Jeff Wall held the successful first Hermes Lecture. Following the more introvert artistic developments of the 1980s. Their work distinguished itself 7 . The publication before you con- tains the text of the lecture as he will deliver it at the Province Hall in ’s-Hertogenbosch. Pierre Huyghe. evidently is from a different generation than Wall. but with a much lighter touch. which were characterised by a sometimes restrained. Elaborating upon conceptual tendencies from the art of the 1960s and ’70s. artists started to develop immaterial structures and processes whereby the creation of identifiable art objects was often only second or third on their list of priorities. born in 1964 and now based in London and New York.

model but rather with a discursive model of art practice—a model which he examines against the background of the post-war welfare state with The objective of the biennial Hermes lecture is to give artists an opportu- its ‘soft’ organisational frameworks and collaborative structures. In the context of the more shadowy sides of those individuals and organisations who have helped to make this lec- globalisation and the late capitalist economy. His lecture is not really concerned with an aesthetic aside. as Gillick stresses. there is one parallel with Jeff Wall’s argument of two years ago. a preference for teamwork ture possible or have in any way contributed to its success: Liam Gillick 8 9 . but this time in his own words and on not an image supported by Gillick. economic phenomena possibly share. institutional and social ‘settings’ in a sophisticated manner. this in effect is the symbolic monotonous forms of assembly line work were abolished. There is an affirma- a flimsy book by a high-profile figure in the art world. always an element that parallels the machinations of globalised capital. when teamwork and self-organisation were introduced and are immediately ‘fed back’ into society. To the artists associated with this denominator it was too. His text may be meaning of the collaboration between an art academy (AKV | St. In this respect at least. a term coined by the French art answer emails and prepare presentations in the evenings and weekends critic N. and an entrepreneurs’ network (Hermes). whose success in tion of the dilemmas of the post-industrial economy without pretending terms of public relations made a bigger impression than the substance of to be able or to even want to solve them. Today’s internationally operating network artist is in some respects However varied these artistic tendencies were.’ The popular image of the critical endeavour of his generation of artists—and thereby. The social aspects of the discursive art model are not without problems On behalf of the Hermes Lecture Foundation we would like to thank all and risks. Gillick’s Hermes lecture may be regarded as an attempt to redefine the that is both its strength and its weakness. ‘In a discursive frame there is his underlying argument. Bourriaud. The results of this 1970s. indirectly. Joost) regarded as a search for the ‘cultural DNA’ that these artistic and socio. by its sensitivity to context and its ability to switch between different and self-organisation in art could easily become tainted with nostalgia. He also nity to contribute on a high level to the theoretical discourse on the role relates it to developments in Scandinavian car manufacturing of the of art and the position of the artist in today’s society. service-oriented entrepreneur is certainly to redefine ‘relational aesthetics’. they have collectively nothing but a variation of the flexible employee who is prepared to become known as ‘relational aesthetics’. artist as a customer-minded. Foremost though is the notion that the discursive art practice does frustrating to see their entire artistic endeavour reduced to a slogan from not aim to smooth out problems—on the contrary. all differences his own terms.

the Recommending Committee of the Hermes Lecture. and the Province of Noord-Brabant. 10 . respectively). Joost. and Charles Esche (speaker and respondent. the members and the board of Hermes. the Stedelijk Museum ’s-Hertogenbosch. staff and students at AKV | St. art centre Witte de With in Rotterdam. the management.

It is the offspring of critical Liam Gillick theory and improvised self-organised structures. Everyone is part of the same story. You never notice this but these relationships The use of the word discursive includes the following consider- give some of the interactions between people an aim and a story. The discursive framework emerges . In this text I characters to life. groups of t hree? A discursive model of praxis has developed within the critical art context over the last twenty years. At our light of certain cultural developments since the fall of the Berlin event you don’t know exactly who animates who. yet within the cultural terrain it has some connec. as in ‘our Wallace’ or ‘our is what produces work but is also the produced work itself in the Hugh’. Maybe they are just marked by their adherence to one or more notions of analytical visitors observing the party. Philippe Parreno. but with separate ability to continue as before. 1995 not the other way around. They are in the style of recent Manga comics from Japan. Maybe it would Maybe we’re trying to catch a moment. 1974. lives. the notion of individual practice within the ‘group’. but it is definitely Wall. maybe an earlier moment. Narratives strategies as a structural tool within their own work. They read a lot. others pro- are stretched and the stories have no specific end. 17th of June. The active people vide a contribution to a larger model of exchange. The discursive is the key strategy employed by the most where each character has a complex formulation that frequently dynamic contemporary artists. person at the party. The discursive sometimes prefix a name with ‘our’. tion to the idea of melding public deliberation while retaining Mumbling a bit. Some of them use discursive changes from episode to episode or from story to story. At no point does my use of the word imply coherence talk a great deal and sometimes exchange pictures. maybe it’s a Volvo moment. 13 pass pictures around. There are some returns and absences that may affect our taking place. when be bet ter if the view from the factory was of the trees and the way to work together was as a team and we know that the future is going to we worked i n work out. It is indebted to the reframing of relationships within conceptual art and required Some people are the motor of the event. Conversations that are always difficult to overhear. They don’t react much. reason. ations: first. Like an animator bringing decentred and revised histories in order to evolve. the passive groups and others. It is the basis of art that involves the dissemination of information. a technical definition—the movement between sub- jects without or beyond order. A character is drawn and through this process is am trying to test the validity of the discursive framework in the free to behave in whatever way the animator wants it to. In the same with the notion of discursive democracy as posited by Habermas 12 way that children make collections of things. ‘Snow Dancing’. It plays with social models and presents speculative constructs both within and beyond traditional gallery spaces. everything is a trajectory as long as we can keep it this way and Ford don’t buy the company. Each participant could be the son or the daughter of another form of critical and impromptu exchanges. The discursive is what differentiates certain collective models. Second—a set of discussions There are also passive groups at the event. It is not clear what they say to each other.

The key event. This is especially true when we con. The idea of a directed series of actions lot of time to excuse ourselves. the idea carrier and the project study of Immaterial Labour accounts for the blurred factors that itself. This is a common phenomenon of the discur- accompanying every serious art project over the last twenty sive—the post-description of critical awareness. The critical text is also the voice of the curatorial context. The text is the tion and demonstration of Immaterial Labour for other ends. Statements depend on the conditions in which they emerge and start to exist within a field of discourse. But the analysis of relational aesthetics got the subjectivity. Marx described the idea voice will have merged with the curatorial. to qualify ourselves and to pro. The idea that prior to being manufactured a prod- The discursive leads to the proliferation of short texts and uct must be sold is a dominant visible feature of certain statements which both cover up and announce. Moments of vide an excess of specific positions that are not necessarily in entry into the critical framework are muddled and inverted as a sync with what is presented in the art spaces. The content of a commodity. turning them into something material and making All this is based on the understanding that statements are also them operate openly in opposition to official programming. Yet the discursive as a form of art assumptions about the root of critical potential emerging practice in its own right is not reliant on these official parallel from the moment of identification of the flow rather than the events. They are an anxiety) from the artist to the curator. These discussions result of the struggle over the text having been transferred (as are functional parallels that project in many directions. from collaborative. exists beyond the immediate art context. Statements If we want to understand tendencies in art we have to look at as events are important within the discursive. terial Labour. Putting a statement tices. However. Critical self-con- these approaches can be included. the discursive provides a space where all moment of engagement the wrong way around. moments. Immaterial Labour is 14 The critical text is now often produced by the person who is an the set of factors that produce the informational and cultural 15 implicated multiple personality within the cultural field. The discursive both goes beyond and absorbs such flow itself. The implication is that this curatorial voice directs rather than producing varied forms of ‘pure’ expression or super. This phenomenon has given us a straightforward form. The discursive makes use of theories of anxiety of contemporary curating is not the cliché of the curator Immaterial Labour in order to escape simplistic understandings as mega-artist or neurotic traveller. symposia and discussion programmes— and set the scene. the key moment. alongside the production events that are projected into the near future and can recuperate of objects for consideration or exchange. developed late-modern art practices. The rise of content-heavy sciousness was activated before the predictive text backtracked discussions—seminars. comes after the negotiated quality of the discursive. often in a years is very significant here. surround and produce commodity value. events. collective or negotiated positions and is a emerges here in the reaction to what has been called ‘relational mode of generating ideas and placing structures into the culture aesthetics’. The site of pro. Moreover we need to examine the notion of the discursive into play will create an event ‘at some point’—or a series of as a production model in its own right. it is the fear that the critical of production within a cultural context. A misunderstanding of identifying the true value of a chair in opposition to its com- . The discursive is a negotia- duction today often exists within the text alone. even though the focus the recent past. of the discursive is less on what is produced than on the aims The discursive framework works in sync with theories of Imma- and structural efficacy of the cultural exercise. Yet we still make free zones of real production. vide a ‘location’ from which to propose a physical potential that sider discursive processes as the base of self-conscious art prac. Statements pro- the underlying structures. the critical flow.

ogy. Art is nurtured and encouraged in return cational legacy of co-operation. map and analogize the linked to various post-war phenomena connected with identity processes that have actually been taking place under the surface politics and post-colonial theory. Still. globalisation. get away from local and geographical anecdote and from ‘special Without key protagonists. At the same time. various forms of group work and collective activity. I will talk about several work within a context of difference and collectivity—difference of these models and precedents: the consensus model of post-war being the keyword that defines our time and collectivity being European social democracy. in order to encourage a constant recognition of disagreement and industrial society’. tural producers. I’m trying to is suspicious of and resistant to the idea of a key protagonist. Both the success and the failure of the discursive framework are ity. we find a set of social models understandings of post-Duchampian art. And around this there remain old relationships sion that we should destroy all traditional relations of production of production that contradict complex theories of ‘post. There. We have to negotiate and recognize difference and collectiv- and the experimental factory. His notion that a chair has an essential value prior were embedded in educational systems. The European context that underlie the art context. and contemporary art. techniques. modes of education and models of working life on cultural activ. however. groups’ through the organising structures of management. as cul. It is exceeded and aban. Some of the structures that we use. Maybe it is possible to explain the discursive cultural frame- sive contemporary cultural production. profoundly different aims within a context of desire. It is Like many artists I am interested in areas other than art. a product of its systems of education but at the same time sub- fore this text is not only about art but also about the structures ject to its critical potentials and collapses. The discursive is wedded to this notion of group work. modity value. There are specific models and precedents for discur. My aim is to find a way to describe. I want to look at echoes to do and when to do it. but also more generally to the idea of post-war social democracy. From pre-school ‘play- to its commodification—a natural ‘chairness’ before being cor. Philosophically it is one of the weakest parts of For those who grew up in post-war Europe notions of group work Das Kapital. it’s very hard to know what event’ consciousness. Art provides a reflection of values. At the same time the discursive of recent models of curating and artistic practice. with its tendency towards a federal the thing that is so hard to achieve while frequently so longed structure. . echo a past that was part of a contingent set of Difference and collectivity are semi-autonomous concepts in 16 accommodations and dynamic stresses within the post-war the art context. yet within the discur. that carry complex implications for people who think they can doned by the discursive in sync with recent critical texts on com. Difference and collectivity as group. the lack of leading voices does in the culture that might provide a clue to parallel productive permit the discursive to evolve and include. social processes of recognition feed from the examples of modern sive this is inextricably related to role-playing as part of an edu. I will be looking at the effect of has surrounded itself with experiment machines in the culture. The logic of their pursuit leads us to the conclu. It is an aspect of social consciousness that is All of this is problematised by the idea of nostalgia for the exemplified in the art context. ity simultaneously. 17 social project. create something using a related if semi-autonomous methodol- modity value. We are sometimes in thrall to via cultural permission to be the space for what cannot be toler- structures from the recent past that were not supposed to be a ated but can be accomodated under the conditions of neo-liberal model for anything. with rupted and commodified by capitalism—is at the heart of classic group discussion and team-work. for.

framework of recent art production. it’s not truly a super-subjective model. The the notion of productive cultural work. because it has bor. working circumstances that left behind the experimental factory tory and the CIA exercised its first real operation in undermining as an attractive model. although apparently connection to the victory of the Federated over the Republican. but without experiments. The post-war is over and can now be re-thought as a today. This ten- The federated as an idea is something that tends to be ignored in sion partly explains the desire of certain people to be involved in relation to art. does not produce. successful. both right and left—from public housing projects to communal it is essentially a series of federations. didn’t work and that no-one wanted them. Self-management has sub- The experimental factory is another precedent for the discursive sequently become generalized in a post-industrial environment. or beyond the suspended. The idea that the discursive encourages an internation. My Grandfather always wondered what I would do with all federated tendencies of European politics. biennale. model. By the time my generation born in the early 1960s had become alized border-free methodology is crucial to its potential failings active recipients of a post-war social dynamic. In the Soviet Union notion of consensus through discourse is troubled by recent every large city had an experimental factory. This turns into The discursive is linked to the question of leisure and time man- a key question when the idea of the edge of the federation agement. Consensus models are phantom parallels to the discursive. ism—were supposed to be failing. the physical man- and collapses. and the edge is a modernist analogue. but the discursive framework often functions like a discursive frame marked by architectural and structural lega- a federated series of organizations—once it goes beyond the col. such as the 1948 election in earlier idealized modernisms and created a mesh of alleviated Italy when the communists were expected to win a landslide vic. It is a dynamic legacy within It’s the way even mundane jobs are advertised now: the idea that . legacies that were viewed as a failure by lective. context of empty plants being turned into art spaces as part of a derless qualities. or goes beyond the communal. It’s not a republican experiments. cies of the recent past. We were told that certain The European neurosis is based on anxieties about the edge in markers of progressive modern existence. it is a federation of relationships. there is an experimental factory—a model for the experi- definable historical period—the era of the social democratic mental. And the question now is: how do you 18 a discursive framework without acknowledging it as an echo of know how much leisure you are having? 19 the federated? Control of time was traditionally the dominant managerial tool and as such it was rightly challenged. How can you sustain the leisure I would have. tural and political pressures. At Magdeburg changes. A dynamic paradox. The occupation of time rather than space creates ifestations of that dynamic—in varied forms of applied modern- new problems of edge. It has become a crucial component of the programme of regeneration. doubt and complication. You can draw a parallel between the rise an election in Europe by paying the Christian Democrats to make of the experimental factory as a functional promise and the way sure it didn’t happen. It’s not even really collaborative. critical exhibition structures developed alongside this—not to mention the well-known phenomenon in the contemporary art The discursive is easily absorbed anywhere. We have to address the promise of increasing leisure as becomes a political marker within the European Union and you a marker in the post-war era and its actual subsequent reduc- realize that the operatives of the discursive may be echoing the tion. The post-war had its moments of The post-war social project activated compromised forms of trauma. The factory that exists but project of Western Europe and other regions that shared its cul.

It is the promise to of post-colonialism had not yet shifted the source of cheap the poor child as a way to get out of bad conditions. when looking at one of their films shot in permanent soft pressure. Even physically they look The notion of continual and permanent education is used in differ. They worked. the same. The notion of today’s perspective. The museum and factories and other sites of production. You can trace a clear shift in ty-provoking situation in which cultural producers operate. which finds form via the computer and 1967. Consider the history of Groupe Medvedkin from France. and the people who are criticizing the factory from the outside. Struggles over ideas at engagement. clearly embarrassed immigrant car to create predictive models that are resistant to true projections of workers. the Peugeot factory in Sochaux. But by 1974 the film Avec le sang des autres opens with a notion of flexibility within the workplace is a way to encourage group of longhaired activists wearing old military jackets stand- people to rationalize their own disappearance or redundancy when ing at the factory gates. dis- specificities and tense arguments about how to accept difference placement. across borders. contingent and needs to be predicted in a speculative form. This is something that the tive that made films between 1967 and 1974 in the context of discursive frame of the art context underscores. the people who are working in the factory tionship to broader networks. They all belong to the same culture. in order to create a degree of information control. group has developed a sophisticated role-playing function in relation to the other. the idea is that you have to change. The post-war consensus on models of behaviour and models of . This is text. situation and power. They demonstrate ‘positions’ to each other. a collec- rier between working and non-working. It is the potentially neurotic and anxie. From has superficial advantages and clear disadvantages. This language and techniques of protest. and to agitated at the Lipp watch factory in France and subsequently in a democratization of style. This shift towards the notion of a public faced by a complex dis- tion due to the economic forces of globalization and the increasing play of self-conscious role-playing is familiar within the art con- tendency towards displacement and subcontracting. It does not lack sincerity. Each structures. Artists are increasingly alienated from traditional sites of produc. These struggles may be reported but fail to be identified the art context. labour from various colonies to the neighbourhood of the con- ations are not changed. and protect the local. hardly visible from the perspective of 2008. Team-worked. it does not lack genuine political another reason why the discursive thrives. does nothing to alleviate anxieties about 21 projected. primarily from North Africa. running the factory. dominant culture in finding ways to use and absorb earlier critical There are individuals talking but only within each group. The sumer. Working situ. while the left is stuck in an excessive assertion of The changes in the economy that I described (flexibility. 20 the site of production still exist but are constantly displaced and however functional. work that involves limitless amounts of work and no concrete bar. filmed and the art centre are connected to the leisure-promise legacy. Modes of address have fallen apart. but the sense of facing closed parallel structures. alienation) ultimately have had geo-political effects. These films show a clarifi- future circumstances. Everything is permanently conditional and cation and separation of aesthetics in terms of identification. it is essentially better to manage your own time within a frame. This these films that is mirrored in the dominant art context. We can see how this developed and left traces in the culture. you don’t see any difference between the people who are digital media—a soft pressure to manage your own time in rela. In 1967 the effects ferences related to class. flexibilised environments induce people Band to a group of silent. They are attempting to play as a Brass necessary. There are nuanced class differences but those are ent cultures in order to escape what are actually clear political dif. Simultaneously you see a phenomenon is combined with the increased sophistication of the clear drop in communication.

Today the notion of the barricade is a fraught concept end of the post-war period allows the discursive to coalesce freely. ists of that generation have always been interested in the idea of ance of the American army in Iraq is in a form that was only possi. this The day before the Brass Band became the only option. the day permanent doubt about where the moment of engagement before the mob became the workers. In the past I have used this quite frequently as a device. Renova- recuperation and renovation not only are the tools of the discur. albeit in a new way. During the right-wing modes of refusal. They speak about being on the same side of the ble once it had abandoned its guardian role within Europe. Chaotic-opportunistic-capitalist globalization has retained Maybe reconfiguring the recent past is an answer: not looking what appear to be barricades. the day before the factory should be. the day before Hotel California was released—the idea of a at the first visible barricade. with nothing to listen to and tionships that it develops into a new topography of soft-control. Art- coalescence as a singular army permanently at war. there was a mentary and the experimental as a site rather than a methodology. We could not post-war American military presence within Europe and its sudden understand why they were not trying harder to occupy time. The broad coali- just as it allows for the US army to be deployed finally in a proudly tion at the barricade has fragmented into small. The intellectual and time when the US and its allies declared permanent war on their ideological implications are even more problematic. At the heart of the layers of distance while creating new disguised locations of discursive is a re-examination of ‘the day before’ as a model for antagonism and creating ‘protest events’ often many kilometres understanding how to act and what to present. 23 everyone waiting for the arrival of the ‘soft’ future. constantly shifting and adding back too far. at the creating engagement and providing activity. tinue as long as it would no longer produce truly traumatic graphical shifts. and the problem of imagining and identifying backlash that was planned in the mid-70’s and came into full other cultures. It tries to get to from the real source of the problem. tion is a technique used to create post-branded or ultra-branded sive framework. The discursive does not fall into the trap of gathering closed. This is one reason why art funding shifted away Suddenly the idea of the edge of Europe has become an urgent from individual projects towards institutional spaces. the sustained potential of subcultural universities and factories were occupied. illogical and uncontrollable ‘other’. We were told about the moment when models of modernism. ‘us and them’. ings battling far from the front line. The reappear. production ended with the completion of European Union. activated group- aggressive form. engagements. Not surprisingly renovation has become an ideological marker But this approach creates peculiar problems. Now that the post-war period is over we face new anxieties. Instead it finds a network of rela- 22 French bar in the middle of nowhere. but also the daily activities of a unified Europe: environments that attempt to erase tense social relationships of . This is the role of the discursive. It has become difficult to the point just before the only option was to play the tuba to the identify a true and final barricade. at the heart of the anti-globalization movement. which involve the return of the edge or border. This anxiety has ation of ’68 couldn’t understand why we didn’t want to occupy been compounded by the atomization and disappearance of the the spaces that they had saved and renovated. reluctant concession that the occupation of space could con- The discursive framework is challenged by these post-war geo. in this occupation of territories and deceptive barriers. having to do with the relationship The occupation of space rather than time is a key marker for between art and the state. The contingent qualities of workers. The gener- populist question again. the legacy and influence of American people of my generation. The barricade. the discursive occupy and echo this constant displacement. Reoccupation. Two answers have been to turn towards the docu. force around 1980 with the Thatcher-Reagan project.

Car production has been One of the great social struggles of the 20th century has been my way of looking into this question—car production in the the one between speculation and planning. picture? Because surely you can just sit around and wait for the fied by displays of the local to the international (and vice versa) inevitable collapse of capitalism to happen. If the revolution is tices is charged with an anxiety about the combination of the inevitable. This forces us to think about and globalization simultaneously. The discursive in our relationships with eco-politics—a tension between map- offers the potential for art to operate within smallish groupings ping the inevitable and acting to prevent a global crisis. national projection. know that the only real solution is a change in the political ded within its values and flows. At the firmly built. The decentred quality of critical art prac. There is an analogy within the context of globalised cultural journeys. revised languages of production within the context of self-man- The ‘big other’ that envelops this is eco-political awareness. The rise of team-work and networking is linked to a underlies our behaviour without actually becoming a dominant denial of complex and disturbing old-school production relation- subject in the serious art context. develop and take place within the renovated rather than the We are facing an inevitable ecological catastrophe. but tion. but in the meantime we will help out by recycling and If we accept the post-war period as a closed period. even when they refuse to create a 24 sciousness is a sweeping narrative that warps and confuses the time-table. system. but still this pre- are used as zones for discursive projection. dangers and risks. human agency in relation to the revolution. We all out of sync with contemporary circumstances yet deeply embed. projects that are tacitly encouraged within a terrain of closure discourse and ‘hanging around’. This contradictory quality is exempli. The discursive demonstrates a neurotic relationship to the man- sive frame may merely be playing out various recuperative agement of time as a negatively activated excess of discussion. even in vociferous denial. We can say that post-war period as the site of class struggle. something we reserve for the people we don’t know what to do . Lukács wrote about the idea of post-war social desire. ‘Statement/events’ vails as an alternative to the ‘commodification’ of art. places and values. The discur. Temporary environment. It agement. It is packed with projections and traces of more local and contingent focus. This creates a collective dilemma that disrupts the As I have indicated. Eco-political con. smoothness of discursive art projects. when or where does the revolutionary come into the local and the international. Dis- factor that disrupts and diverts political rhetoric. we have to taking the hybrid bus to work. simple production relations via small flexible groupings. This is linked to the urgent political paradox of progres- use of renovation within contingent discursive structures works sive models being essentially wasteful and unresponsive to the with the language of renovated architectural practice. the past via an incomplete picture of what a ‘whole’ could be. temporary environments. The ment. same time we are personally impelled to do something in order to prevent it. speculation has won while the rhetoric of planning has become the trajectory of modernity and now anxieties about the environ. It is a permanent background ships that still exist as a phantom for progressive thinkers. 25 smooth continuation of the discursive. think harder about whether the discursive is merely a gesture towards the recuperation of ideas. Putting the artist instead of his work on display is partitions. An awareness exists that affects all behaviours beyond they are subject to the same complexities that afflict any political specificity. contingent spaces and so on no longer an ecologically conscious gesture. including those with a mas. the discursive art practice is full of dilem. self-managed environment. Eco-political cursive art contexts are intended to go beyond a mere echo of consciousness is always re-sited and displaced under globaliza.

It merely presents a potential. . The expectation is that the fourth estate always caught in a psychological and philosophical dilemma. industry. But you are still making duction from other generations. it merely provides a series of locations which duce it in a group. The documentary has found a temporary and the emergence of post-Fordist models of flexibility. The factory—as a system—allows you to analyse relation- ships in a totalizing way. In the Volvo factory you like structure that combines settings for discussion alongside pro- can see trees while you are making cars. troubled and disturbed 26 that free time they talked about ways to work faster. or individually. The discursive is a cartel- tion and better working environments. Discursive. We plan for them but everyone else should speculate. As the dis- trial production. of engagement is not critical. It is pure capitalist terms but because it clarified relations of for this reason that I think the factory needs to be looked at production. seems close to the way contemporary art production has devel. one needs to plan. This is a convenient alliance that tells us something about certain oped. just tent-heavy art projects have somehow freed themselves from the out of reach. not a free-floating series the collective or is it the infinite display of the super-subjective? of components in its own right. with. or at night. It provides the potential to identify where the criti- classical problem of commodity culture and taken on the deep cal moment might be. thing within itself. not because it was more efficient in in constant tension with the idea of documentary mirroring. the idea of The idea of collective action and the idea of being able to deter. or very slowly. In has a reasonably effective checking function within the culture. home as the content of the discursive. offer the potential to identify where critique ‘should’ take place. tent within institutionalized forms of the discursive. both in the cultural sphere and in the realm of indus. Even in ‘progressive’ media such as New York based ‘Democracy Now!’ the idea of a free press is still used as a marker of a fully The last few years I have worked on ‘The Volvo question’. a documentary structure is not that it actually produces some- mine the speed with which you produce a car. This cultural contemporary art production in the recent past? Is it Volvo. is it work is a component of the discursive. never taking a walk in the woods. replace the degraded Anglo-Saxon model of the fourth estate: the tion lures production. I con. ducted most of this research via Brazilian academic papers that The idea of a documentary structure in recent contemporary art concern the legacy of 1970s production techniques in Scandinavia is incredibly important. order to effectively activate speculation. con. in order to create a continual map of The most significant and clear development in contemporary art productive potential. collabora. What happened at Volvo was that izes its critical potential at the moment of engagement. However. functional society. again. and during discursive framework would be punctured. Within the discursive the moment of desire and structure. because mentary tendency. Although the factory is always the playing practice in the last ten years has been the appearance of a docu- field of the speculative. In the last 10 or 15 years there has been a synchronization shared critical contingencies. whether you pro. Although the documentary And do these factors share a similar cultural DNA? always tells you something about a concrete location. both younger and older. it is press and related media. it is standard production line. The documentary was developed in order to of the aspects of industrial planning. who are cars. The people ended up creating more and more free time. Ford bought the company and reintroduced the cursive frame cannot sustain a didactic hierarchical structure. Where are the models for committed to doing detailed documentary work. This goes against the notion that art real- structure of work and life. fragmented. The myth is that specula. atomized. 27 and attractiveness of infinite flexibility has led to the logic of The documentary threatens to become an excess of relative con- redundancy. The trauma if it merely mirrored what the dominant culture already knew. and investment. as a model it is of structural use.

but no actual experiments. We are tioning as a structural parallel to contemporary working dilem- projecting that something will lead to something else ‘at some mas in the dominant culture. It is an activation of reconfigured. Maybe the discursive makes it possible to be a parasite the reshaping of the stories of the recent past. recuperation and aimless ren- are the dominant models. We are currently in a situation where suspension and repression moment of constant reoccupation. a dominant authored voice. The discursive framework projects a problem just workforce rather than due to some naturalistic quality or drive. in permanent displacement and projection of the critical moment is order to redirect the apparent loss. In a discursive frame there is point’. but for different ends. out of reach and this is why it can also confront a socio-eco. Every other mode the most complex and imploded forms of developed capitalism— merely reflects a problem. The flexibility. Projects are realized that expose discursive context. generates a problem. true activity. permanently redundant citizens and who have come to terms 28 tradictory aims. Clear-cut authored content is suspi. semi-autono. Somehow it might be possible to bring together with the notion of the permanently part-time worker in the face 29 small groupings and create temporary. it provides a location for refusal and collective ennui. the political potential of the discursive. It is possible that we have seen a rise in the redundancy have joined together playing with the difference idea of parasitical relationships to the point where they have between art time and work time. The political potential of the discursive framework comes from nomic system that bases its growth on ‘projections’. True work. speaking to itself and framework has been predicated upon the rejection of the idea of regenerating among its own kind. suspended. and so on. is peopled by artists who increasingly accept a large number of duction via a constant layering of profoundly differing and con. that the past is being forces that encourage self-redundancy. This is its ‘just-around-the. who is marking time. They achieve this via an imental. We’ve had flexibility and now we are redun- constant anxiety within the discursive frame about who is doing dant yet we refuse to stop working. Feeding off copies of itself. and that the near future gets shaped. Micro-communities of mous frameworks. the notion that capitalism mutates in the face of a reluctant lem. The discursive adherence to parasitical techniques: destroying relations of pro. reached a fluid state of acceptance. The opposite of perform. there tions that are open and exchange-orientated in tension with the is still the feeling that stories get told. A permanent interplay of micro-critical expressions attempt to hold the collective on this brink that energises the within the context of a ‘setting’. capital. that is both its strength and its weakness. There is a counter-methods. true significance will happen in a always an element that parallels the machinations of globalized constant. We have created the conditions for the exper- a power relationship with the culture. becoming an experimental factory and without slipping into a nite suspension of critical moments. The discursive demonstrates a clear desire to produce situa- cious both politically. It starts from As the focus within the discursive is upon permanent displace. The discursive without a host. socially and ideologically. It is art func- cursive art process we are constantly projecting. of the permanently educated artist. It is the cornerness’. Or vice-versa. set of conditions that lead to certain redundancy. the position of understanding the process of redundancy-via- ment. it co-opts that process. However. being ‘out of reach’ and ‘too close’ simultaneously. The question is how to develop a discursive project without ance. The discursive cultural this. The discursive is the only structure framework is the only way to challenge the forces that encourage that allows you to project a problem just out of reach and to self-redundancy as it internalizes and expresses consciousness of work with that permanent displacement. In the dis. We may have reached a . denies a prob. perpetual displacement. it is not a location for action but instead provides an infi. There is anxiety about who controls ovation.

It is here that we can build contingent critical This text develops and clarifies a week of improvised lectures at the structures that critique both modernity and its critical double. model of artistic or educational quality. Jalal relatively un-examined. However. While Toufic. critical environment. Instead of a permanent ‘association of around.) appearance. reoccupying spaces that were never fully occupied in the activity and all their engagement with the party. The discursive is a production cycle. people just leave normally. der Vereinten Nationen. Not making any fuss. he is blindfolded. finally stopped. text was sent to 43 people in Australia to read and react to as the vidual positions without having to conform to an established artist’s contribution to the Sydney Biennale. ‘what could be useful’. Nikolaus Hirsch. it uses certain production analogies in relation to just a group of people quietly going on their way. Walid Raad. free agent in a collective project. 1995 and demographic developments) and the somewhat melancholic imploded self-conscious trajectory of modernism. He is also a judge of character based on facial whether you are included or not is only a question of manners. Natascha Sadr Haghighian. Tied to a chair. The discursive does not create sites for viewing ble of physical activity. The discursive is not about audience participation or being There is a doorman working at the entrance. rather than a fixed perfor. At the right time. Incomplete projects and partial contributions are central to an effectively progressive. just moving away. talking and looking at cars. It allows the artist to develop a set of arguments and indi. instead they are perpetually reformed. 2008. unitednations- The discursive is a practice that offers the opportunity to be a plaza was organised by Boris Groys. In addition an early form of this lective’. Martha Rosler. Incapa- frame the space. people stream out past the doorman. free school unitednationsplaza in Berlin in 2006. ‘Snow Dancing’. sudden returns and acceptance of gains and losses as symptoms and catalysts simultaneously. It occupies the increasing gap between the trajectory of modernity (understood here as a flow of technologies Philippe Parreno. when the music has or contemplation—instead it provides distraction and examina. the discursive appears to be an open generator of positions. The discursive needs to retain this sense of reclaimed speculation in relation to ‘lived’ future models if it is to retain its semi-autonomy in relation to 30 instrumentalising or divisive. . After their tion. who is very good at absorbed within the space of art. (Knowing how to behave or recognizing people. The doorman is accompa- The structure itself is no more the ‘work’ than the objects that nied by a colleague who is unable to move. But in the discursive they are not expressed. dued. Berlin. Tirdad Zolghadr. At the end of this party there’s free(d) time’. it Anton Vidokle and Liam Gillick and operated in 2006-2007 in Platz actually functions best when it allows one to ‘hide within the col. the mood is sub- first place. It is within this zone that we can explain the idea of no surprise. There are no lengthy periods spent milling mative moment in time. no rushing. chaotic and insincere market 31 rationalisations.

Frieze. Rotterdam. (JRP-Ringier. 2004. 50th Venice Biennale. 2002. 2008-2009. 1995). Guggenheim Museum. 1997) and Erasmus is Late (Book Works. Solo exhibitions include The Wood Way. Factories in the Snow by Lilian Haberer. Proxemics (Selected writing 1988-2006) (JRP-Ringier) was published in 2007. Kunsthalle Zurich and MCA Chicago. 2003 and documenta X. 1999). Palais de Tokyo. London. Kassel 1997. Whitechapel Gallery. and Orchard Gallery. Five or Six (Lukas & Sternberg. Paris. Discussion Island/Big Conference Centre (Kunstverein Ludwigsburg. Liam Gillick has contributed to many art magazines and journals including Parkett. 2002). A short text on the possibility of creating an economy of equivalence. Art Monthly. In 2006 he co-founded the free art school project unitednationsplaza in Berlin. New York. 2007) will soon be joined by an extensive retro- spective publication. Selected group exhibitions include Singular Forms. Derry. 32 . Witte de With. Liam Gillick is an artist based in London and New York. Liam Gillick has published a number of texts that function in parallel to his artwork includ- ing Literally No Place (Book Works. In addition. October and Artforum. London. 2005 and the retrospective project Three Perspectives and a short scenario. London.

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nl The Hermes Lecture 2008 was supported by the Province of Noord-Brabant. Jan Dibbets. Albert Caron. Charles Esche. Vertaling Leo Reijnen. in samenwerking met het bestuur van de stichting Hermeslezing Publication . 5223 DJ ’s-Hertogenbosch. Chris Dercon. Stichting Hermeslezing Recommending Committee . Board . Onderwijsboulevard 256. Hermes Lecture Foundation . Joost (Avans Hogeschool) en Hermes Business Netwerk. Avans University. Translation . publicatie Editing . Druk BibloVanGerwen ISBN 978-90-76861-18-0 © 2008 Hermes Lecture Foundation and the authors Stichting Hermeslezing en de auteurs Hermes Lecture Foundation . Ontwerp Tom van Enckevort. Marlene Dumas. Hermeslezing 2008 Organization . Jules van de Vijver.hermeslezing. Rens Holslag. Bestuur Hans Brens. Graphic design . Hans Cox. Stichting Hermeslezing AKV|St. met dank aan Herman Lerou Hermes Lecture 2008 . with thanks to . Redactie Camiel van Winkel. Wilma Diepens. Organisatie Ellen Caron. Joost (Avans University) and Hermes Business Network . in collaboration with the board of the Hermes Lecture Foundation . De Hermeslezing is een initiatief van het lectoraat beeldende kunst van AKV|St. Printing . Camiel van Winkel. .Colophon Colofon The Hermes Lecture is an initiative of the Research Group of Visual Art of the art academy AKV|St. Camiel van Winkel. www. Hendrik Driessen. Comité van aanbeveling Hanja Maij-Weggen. Camiel van Winkel. the Netherlands. Joost Art Academy. De Hermeslezing 2008 is tot stand gekomen met steun van de Provincie Noord-Brabant.

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Joost. Avans University. De Hermeslezing is een tweejaarlijkse lezing over de positie van de kunstenaar in het culturele en maatschappelijke spanningsveld. It takes place in ’s-Hertogenbosch and is a collaboration between entrepreneurs’ network Hermes and the Research Group of Visual Art at the art academy AKV | St. een netwerk van ondernemers. Joost. The Hermes Lecture is a biennial lecture about the position of the visual artist in the cultural and social field. hermes lecture foundation stichting hermeslezing . Avans Hogeschool. De lezing vindt plaats in ’s-Hertogenbosch en is een samenwerking tussen Hermes. en het lectoraat beeldende kunst van AKV | St.