February 9th, 2008

operesque

What is "the progressive art institution"?

"So, Momus, what's happening in Europe's progressive art institutions?" I hear you ask in your thousands and thousands. Well, I don't, but I'm going to tell you anyway, and I expect to find three comments when I get back from Five minutes later..., the current show at Kunst-Werke here in Berlin.

Well, the answer is that this is Liam Gillick's moment. He's currently got not one but two mid-career retrospectives on, one at the Witte de With in Rotterdam, the other at the Kunsthalle Zürich (where they've rendered the colour poster in textural tones instead). Despite the poster, the Rotterdam show sees Gillick's colour palette reduced to volumetric greys, which I think is a bit of a shame; he's a great colourist as well as a restless and wide-ranging thinker. Here's a short extract from a Liam Gillick lecture, accompanied by a lovely slide of the moment when Diego Rivera, Leon Trotsky and André Breton got together for a bit of a barbie in the backyard:



The Palais de Tokyo in Paris, meanwhile, showcases the work of collaborationist, composer and sci-art man Loris Gréaud, who was thrown out of the Paris Conservatoire for setting up a recording studio designed "to stop music". He still makes it -- here's one of his pieces, fairly conventional postwar electroacoustic fare (ah, but were you listening to what Liam Gillick said in his lecture about the postwar?). And here's a video piece Gréaud showed at Art Basel Miami, of a corn seed breaking the surface tension of a sheet of water:



I suppose I set myself the question that heads today's entry because I watched this Tateshots video in which the Tate Modern's chief curator Sheena Wagstaff talks about the current show at Tate Modern, by Spanish sculptor Juan Muñoz, and was struck by a certain old-fashionedness both in the way Wagstaff speaks and thinks, and in Muñoz's work itself. And that sent me scurrying off to the Witte de With in Rotterdam, a reliably progressive institution. But what does that really mean, a "progressive institution"? It's something I'm sure Liam Gillick could tell us a thing or two about.