Margin Time, 2012
HD video, sound, 24’43’’
Courtesy of the artist
“Where people go to get better memories. There to make sure nobody is the first to arrive or the last to leave …” The video Margin Time (2014) by British artist Liam Gillick circles around the idea of change, human conditions and our collective future. Margin Time was filmed during the lead up to his work for the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009 the film considers three specific sites of power in a form that deconstructs specific approaches from developed science fiction in the 1960s and 1970s – specifically the writings of Stanislaw Lem (Solaris) and Christopher Priest (The Inverted World). While thinking of what to produce for the German Pavilion Gillick considered the production of a science fiction film. To create a working habit – he woke early every day to film workers arriving to construct a temporary building on the site of the United Nations Headquarters sculpture gardens in New York. This temporary building now houses the offices of the U.N. while the original Wallace Harrison led complex by Niemeyer and Corbusier is undergoing complete interior renovation. The film also takes in the adjacent Roosevelt Island masterplan for middle class modern housing and shopping arcades by Philip Johnson and the recently completed F.D. Roosevelt monument by Louis Kahn at the tip of Roosevelt Island that points past the U.N. complex itself. The link between these three sites is made by a cable car shuttle. The film is a narrated series of shots that develops a revised language that reconsiders representations of power, memorial, connections, renovation and the temporary displacement of bureaucracy.
The erasure of the United Nations gardens with its sculptures donated by various countries – all exemplifying particular projections of ideology from the depiction of an Irish Famine boat to a thrusting young Stalinist pioneer – sits as an important absence within the film. The narration slips between historical references to aspects as varied as Louis Kahn’s tragic death in the toilets of Penn Station to the now completely erased original interior of the United Nations via a story of continual displacement and anxiety that forms the core of the science fiction story. The presentation of the film coincided with the first installation of the final Venice Biennale work as part of the permanent collection of the Guggenheim Bilbao in late September 2012.
Liam Gillick (1964, Aylesbury, U.K.) is an artist based in New York. Solo exhibitions include The Wood Way, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2002; A short text on the possibility of creating an economy of equivalence, Palais de Tokyo, 2005 and the retrospective project Three Perspectives and a short scenario, Witte de With, Rotterdam, Kunsthalle Zurich, Kunstverein, München and the MCA, Chicago, 2008-2010. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2002 and the Vincent Award at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 2008. Many public commissions and projects include the Home Office in London (2005) and the Dynamica Building in Guadalajara, Mexico (2009). In 2006 he was a central figure in the free art school project unitednationsplaza in Berlin that travelled to Mexico City and New York. Liam Gillick has published a number of texts that function in parallel to his artwork.