Peter Liversidge - The Thrill of It All

Peter Liversidge - The Thrill of It All

Work in process

Peter Liversidge discusses his unique creative practice and interest in exploring institutional structures with Rosalie Doubal

‘I propose to give a motivational speech to Scottish business leaders.’ Hand-typed, darkly humorous and posted to the gallery, this proposition typifies London-based artist Peter Liversidge’s now established way of working. It sits among a host of 159 similarly offbeat, yet considered suggestions for performances and artworks, all destined for aptly-named publication, Ingleby Proposals, and collectively forming the basis for his upcoming exhibition.

Many of these will be realised, including the inspirational lecture, but only after a reworking of Liversidge’s internationally staged Gin Performance, however, in which shots of Hendricks with cucumber will be gifted from a gin stand surrounded with white bunting. The performance will last for the duration of the bottle, and then the address will commence.

‘I propose to spend two days driving all the hire cars from Edinburgh to Glasgow, and leaving them in Glasgow,’ continues Liversidge, listing some of the ideas that will be realised. ‘A large wall drawing based on a fragment of an envelope that contains the application for a British Passport; a visit to all 790 of the offshore Islands surrounding Scotland, and a Floral Tribute reading: fear not for the future, weep not for the past …’

There is a warmth in Liversidge’s unabashed site-specificity and the artist has turned this playful gaze to many other cities, nations, galleries and institutions. Recent projects include Proposals for Liverpool at Tate Liverpool; Proposals for Barcelona at the Centre d’Art Santa Monica and Proposals for Brussels at the Europalia Festival. Relying only on this practice of writing suggestions, yet in turn always producing new bodies of works and often using methods and processes for the first time, Liversidge’s exhibitions toy with a rather gentle sort of institutional critique. ‘I think that there is something to be said for seeing behind the mask of an institution, be it international, national or local,’ remarks the artist. ‘We all have our strengths and our weaknesses.’

More is at work here, however, than a subtle exposition of art world structures. ‘The process is also about the notion of creativity,’ Liversidge suggests. ‘It’s important that some of the proposals are actually realised and that others remain only as text on a piece of A4 paper. In a sense they are all possible and the bookwork that collates the proposals allows the reader to curate their own show.’

Liversidge’s work owes much of its charm to individual interactions with the proposals, for humour in all its many weird and wonderfully subjective guises is given more than one chance to strike a chord, and there is something here to tickle every taste.

Recently lauded for the Jupiter Artland opening performance, Midsummer Snow Storm, in which the artist magically produced a wintry flurry on the longest day of the year, Liversidge has since been commissioned to produce 50 proposals in celebration of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art’s 50th Anniversary. ‘Celebration is very much part of being in the moment, and afterwards, the memory of the event is all that there is. The proposals lend themselves to this because they work in a way to involve the imagination of the viewer/reader to what might be possible and the imagined possibilities of what is not yet realised.’

Peter Liversidge: The Thrill of It All, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, Wed 24 Feb–Sat 10 Apr.

Peter Liversidge: The Thrill of it All

  • 4 stars

Liversidge explores the notion of artistic process in a playful exhibition framed by his trademark 'proposal' technique. While the realised pieces and artefacts are outnumbered by the ideas surrounding them, much of the joy of the exhibition is to found in reading the texts.

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