Read Chris Hayes' interview with Liam Gillick in the Limerick Leader
"I stopped watching films in 1992”, said Liam Gillick, when we were chatting about the spoken word film festival And then… which is part of EVA International. He continued, saying “I found when people were talking about art, the conversation could go downhill rapidly, but if someone talked about a film, the atmosphere would lift. So I stopped watching movies, as an experiment, and just read about them, read scripts. I found films too fascinating, I didn’t want to compete with them.”
Taking place in Mother Macs - the old Roundhouse Bar -every Thursday at 7pm, And then… is a spoken word film festival. It requires little else but an open mic and a crowd willing to talk about a movie they had seen. This is Liam Gillick’s contribution to the 2016 EVA International biennial, and is characteristic of his participatory approach to art with an emphasis on open structures of organisation as well as a focus on the importance of ideas, language and text.
In some ways the spoken word film festival isn’t really about films, but is an artwork about the contemporary rise of the synopsis. Take TV for example, as you click through across channels each show has its own mini description, its own form of translation from the visual to writing, and compression from 30 or so minutes to a brief burst text.
Reflecting on his own experiences with films, before the rise of the synopsis, Gillick said; “Y’know, when I went to see Titanic I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was a film about the boat the Titanic, I didn’t realise it was a romantic, love story. I was completely disappointed.”
Speaking about a film, the person on stage will reveal a lot of themselves, and in this often busy and crowded event this becomes an act of collective vulnerability. This vulnerability is an important part of the project, as Gillick explained: “The thing that happens when people talk about films is that they reveal a lot, they reveal a lot about their own interests, their own prejudices, their own fascinations. Often, people who are deeply serious may just talk about Mean Girls or Heathers or something. It can be quite revealing I think. It’s not quite the same as karaoke, but it is related.”
Gillick attended a series of the And then… performances over the opening weekend. He came prepared, he explained to me, with enough material to talk for four days. While he was an important presence, it was the moments when the crowd took over, de-throned the king and made it their own that And then… seemed to really come to life. This, of course, is exactly what Gillick had intended – or at least, hoped – from the onset.
“People want to have a balance between the artist’s intentions and the results; they want to know that the intention and the results are equal, and I’m in principle sort of against that, as you know.”
Previous projects by Gillick have explored different ideas around testing success. So how will we know if And then… is a success?
“I like that phenomenon of when you programme something, and part of the idea is the idea. It’s like, you just say there is a spoken word film festival happening in Limerick – and it becomes a kind of myth, no one can remember what happened or if it was any good because it was all spoken word. It’s oral history, it wasn’t written down.”