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Artistes

Exposition thématique - Le capital 14-07 au 10-10-1999

Liam Gillick

An attempt to match the colour of liquid Coca Cola leaving test marks on the wall. The act reflects a reference to a passage in the book BIG CONFERENCE CENTRE.

Dimensions variable, although it is probably a good idea to start with yellow, red, blue and white paint and a brush that is at least of 2.5cm width and to make a sequence of single brush marks on the wall. Keep going until you are happy with the colour match.Try not to make a painting, but dont forget to produce something worth looking at. (courtesy Lionel Bovier and Christophe Cherix and Galerie Air de Paris) Playing Simm City on a plane makes some sense. Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Atlantic airlines claims a form of dyslexia pre-vented him from a glittering academic career. And we are all encouraged to empathise with his continued habit of working from home and dress-ing down for the customer. His communication is verbal and his interest in the details of financial accounting is apparently vague. The key to exer-cising power within the terms of the capitalist entrepreneur is seen to be closely linked to the creation of an image of control that is unencum-bered by attention to detail. Risk and decision making are key to a certain form of economic power that sees development and speculation at the heart of success. The centre of Berlin is now semi-planned and semi-speculated. Planning versus speculation was the great power struggie of the Twentieth Century. The five year plan against the potential of entrepreneurial risk. Steve Jobs of Apple Computer knows these games well. He remains only acting chair of the candy-coloured computer company. He is aware of the fact that to assume complete control would remove the threat of his potential absence. He retains a rather contemporary posi-tion of fence-sitting, half in and half out. Always free to leave and not bound by a commitment to be judged as the absolute boss. As such Apple are now perceived to be successful once more, with the appllcation of power manifest through ambiguity of role and potential to up and go at a moments notice. It is the desire to avoid a partic-ular structure of judgement that is interesting in this case. Removing the process of assessment and reward that normally limits power and offering services on a day to day basis.Revolutionary gestures used to be played out against monolithic power structures. Just after the falI of the Berlin wall and the break-up of the Soviet Union a new advert for Smirnoff appeared on British television.A group of revolutionaries are seen storming into a building and up the stairs. They look from room to room and generally sack the place. In one grand state-room an Imperial representative sits drinking Smirnoff, enjoying the last moments of privilege. As the Red Guard arrive, he is torn from the chair and a revolutionary takes his place. As soon as the communist assumes the seat and takes hold of a glass of Vodka he sits back and places his feet on the table to enjoy the fruits of class struggle. Immediately a second wave of revolutionaries enter the room. They in turn tear the proletarian from his assumed seat, and one of the new wave now takes the chair and bottle of Vodka in his place. The implication is that this process is endless. A sequence of assumption of power and the implication that once the symbol of power is picked up then it becomes impossible to distinguish the revolutionary from the Imperialist oppressor. A demonstration of the sti-fling logic of capitalism to assume success by default. A challenge from the power of relativism to the struggle against injustice. All this in order to selI indifferent Vodka. The assumption of cor-ruption is central to the transfer of power. Constant vigilance is expected and maybe nec-essary to prevent the Smirnoff cycle. Yet it remains undear whether the necessary moral and ethical indignation remains in order for such checks and balances to retain currency.

Britain has had two major miners strikes since the early Seventies.

The first was seen as a great victory for the work-ers with their well organised domestic  and indus-trial power cuts acutely symbolising the strength of a mass movement to improve pay and conditions. The second strike occurred during the Thatcher years. This time the government and the police were ready. No power cuts this time as the miners were goaded into action in Spring when coal stocks were high. The break-down of mining communities all over Britain was accom- panied by an ideologically motivated desire to see the end of large scale production and manu- facturing in Britain in favour of opportunistic "efficiency".-The power-cuts that were forced ten uears earlier in the first strike were the ultimate tool of the miners. By withholding supplies from the power-stations they could nightly demon- strate their collective hold over the nation. In the Eighties, supply was maintained and supple- mented from elsewhere.The courts were used to outlaw strike activity and to sequester the assets of the unions. It was a difference of approach equivalent to comparing the strategies around Watergate and the activi- ties of Kenneth Starr. The abuse of power result- ing from covert dealing mutating into a quasi- open policy involving the employment of legal tools to challenge the actions of a political rival. No more bugging, but a lot of briefs. Attempts to exercise political power through the ever expand- ing legal field. With the cultural relativism of our post-utopian situation there are manu loyers of action, all of which may represent struggles for power.There was an artist known for the varied and eccentric nature of bis cultural production. While no-one could precisely pin-down his work, he was still invited to take part in many exhibitions during the late 1960s and early ?Os alongside contemporaries whose work could be more easily slotted into precise categories. As the years went by his work became more and more vague and aesthetically out of focus in relation to the work of others apparently more closely tied to the concerns of the dau. One set of work was particularly off-beam. One of the pieces in the series was weaker and vaguer than the rest. Yellowish paper with another small bit of paper half-heartedly stuck tac it. The thing ended up in the bedroom of a sympathetic friend with an inquisitive child. The child was intrigued by the work and on a rare visit by the artist eagerly enquired of the meaning and ideas in the work. Simple" the artist replied, "It's a protest against The Vietnam War." Liam Gillick 1999

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