Monday, June 8, 2009

A kitchen cat speaks

Wie würden Sie sich verhalten?
Eine Küchenkatze spricht

For more than a year Gillick has been travelling, researching and developing his project in continuous dialogue with curator Nicolaus Schafhausen. Making extensive use of computer modeling of the existing German Pavilion and following a long period of work on site in Venice the final questions for Gillick circle around models of social behaviour and the problem of how to create new forms of address within loaded ideological sites.

Crucial components of the exhibition were determined during the final installation days. However, the first step of the process was the fabrication of an edition in the form of a model of Arnold Bode’s 1957 proposal for a new German Pavilion.

For the final work, the pavilion is not obscured or hidden. Both the inside and outside of the building can be seen and examined. It has recently been painted white, as part of the general maintenance of the building and Gillick has left it this way. A simple table and bench designed by the artist are sited outside for use by the pavilion team. Every room of the building is open. No part of the pavilion has been closed off or used for storage.

Strips of plastic, like the blinds used to keep flies out of a room, mark the entrance and two emergency exits of the pavilion. Inside, a kitchen-like structure has been constructed from simple pine wood. Lacking in appliances the “kitchen” exists as a diagram of aspiration, function and an echo of applied modernism that resonates in opposition to the corrupted grandeur of the pavilion, which was designed without lavatories, kitchen or any area to rest. The cabinets puncture the doorways leading to the side rooms. The kitchen is in tension with the logic of the building. You could even say it is a legacy of functional modernism that exists to work against the ideology of the pavilion architecture.

Gillick has transferred his own daily working environment – his kitchen used as an improvised studio – to the German Pavilion. Sitting for months in his kitchen with his son’s cat he considered the question “Who speaks? To whom and with what authority?” while the cat tried to disrupt his work. After re-visiting the replica of Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky’s Frankfurt Kitchen at the Museum of Applied Art in Vienna – which has long been an important marker of applied modernism within Gillick’s practice – he looked for a solution as to who should occupy his Venice kitchen.

For the final work Gillick – with his studio team in Berlin led by Thomas Huesmann – has created an animatronic cat that sits on top of one of the kitchen cabinets. The cat fights against the echo in the building and tells us a circular story of misrepresentation, misunderstanding and desire.

With this in mind the pavilion becomes a site for a self-conscious circling story that never ends. The cat is in the kitchen, the children are in the kitchen.

“I don’t like it,” the boy will say.

“I don’t like it,” the girl will say.

“I don’t like you,” the cat will think.

Venice Biennial, Deutscher Pavillon 2009