Wonderland quizzes artist Liam Gillick about his new line of products for Pringle of Scotland, which debuted at the SS12 show this morning.
British artist Liam Gillick’s practice is hard to pin down: in the course of his celebrated career he’s produced installations, sculpture, invented cocktails, written literary works and composed music. But his latest project is appealing in a very direct way: this year he’s launching a line of products made in collaboration with Pringle of Scotland, all of which will be presented for the first time at Art Basel Miami in South Beach this December. The range, LIAMGILLICKFORPRINGLEOFSCOTLAND includes bags, accessories and knitwear, but as part of the project he’s also produced a series of table-like sculptural objects, which were unveiled this morning (as benches, pictured above) at the Pringle of Scotland show this morning. Here Wonderland’s editor Adam Welch talks to Gillick about his foray into fashion.
How has working with a fashion brand differed and/or been similar to your other collaborative projects?
The speed is different. The intensity of work and production suits my way of thinking and matches my desire to see objects enter circulation with as little delay as possible. It is the opposite of my work with architects – which is productive for exactly the opposite reasons. It is also a question of learning about new production techniques and having a discussion with Alistair Carr [Pringle of Scotland’s new Creative Director] – a moment of comparison and difference across disciplines.
Why no spaces in “LIAMGILLICKFORPRINGLEOFSCOTLAND”? How do you feel about the language of branding in general – is it ridiculous or an unavoidable part of our culture that you’re implicitly accepting?
Branding today floats free from concrete production of objects and has become a thing in its own right. It is a deception and at the heart of our scepticism and enthusiasm for developed social life. In our case we are actually making things – not just evoking a brand or proposing a potential. The sense of branding in this case is about integration and taking responsibility. I carefully considered the wording to make sure it is clear that I am doing something for someone else and not merely adding some kind of immaterial aura. I am against branding as a meaningless signifier of value and in favour of people getting credit for their work.
The release here hints you’re investigating the status of the art object – could you explain in relation to the Pringle collection?
My involvement is conceptual on many levels – my interest has been to collaborate with people who know what they are doing. I am not producing things for Pringle who then have to reproduce my “vision”. I don’t have a vision. I am interested in work and material facts. So I approached the work here in the same way I would an exhibition at a museum or gallery. There is a challenge to my own assertions about the way art creates meaning in the culture in the process here. If I make general points about production and research in my work – I need sometimes to check this against other forms of production and distribution.
How much technical research did you do in developing this collection, i.e. into production, manufacturing, etc.?
None. I talked to people about ideas and values and meaning. I then let the specialists who work for Pringle do what they do best – which was to show me various technical possibilities. I wanted them to take responsibility for developing something in parallel to my thinking rather than merely executing a set of instructions. I want to question ideas of authorship and where meaning and value reside. This would not have been possible if I had become bogged down in technical issues.
Do you have a favourite piece in the collection?
The way all of the things are constructed. The use of different material qualities placed side by side. I see the work as a set of related objects that also happen to have a function. My favourite piece is the one that will be used un-self-consciously by a person in the near future who will also recognise this proximity and play of materials.
Words: Adam Welch