May 5, 2010 - Chisenhale Gallery - Melanie Gilligan
May 5, 2010

Melanie Gilligan

Melanie Gilligan
Popular Unrest, 2010

Melanie Gilligan
7 May – 20 June 2010

Chisenhale Gallery
64 Chisenhale Road
London E3 5QZ
+44 (0) 20 8981 4518
mail [​at​]

“Of course you’re special, special like everyone else.”*

Chisenhale Gallery premieres a new film, installation and website commission by Melanie Gilligan. Gilligan works in video, performance, text, installation and music. Her new film, Popular Unrest, is a multi-episode drama set in a future much like the present. Here, however, all exchange transactions and social interactions are overseen by a system called ‘the Spirit’. A rash of unexplained killings have broken out across the globe. They often take place in public but witnesses never see an assailant. Just as mysteriously, groups of unrelated people are suddenly coming together everywhere, amassing new members rapidly. Unaccountably, they feel a deep and persistent sense of connection to one another.

The film explores a world in which the self is reduced to physical biology, directly subject to the needs of capital. Hotels offer bed-warming servants with every room, people are fined for not preventing foreseeable illness, weight watching foods eat the digester from the inside and the unemployed repay their debt to society in physical energy. If on the one hand this suggests the complete domination of life by exchange value do the groupings offer a way out?

Shot in London with a cast of twelve main actors, the film’s form is partly inspired by David Cronenberg’s ‘body horror’ and American television dramas CSI, Dexter and Bones, where reality is perceived through a pornographic forensics of empirical and visceral phenomena.

The five episodes of the film will each be screened individually throughout the installation. As with Gilligan’s recent video works, the film’s episodic structure takes its cue from television and the medium’s ability to dispense its storyline in stages.

To accompany the exhibition Gilligan has produced a bespoke website – – which will launch on 6 May and allow viewers to watch or download the film episodes online.

Popular Unrest is co-commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery, London, Kolnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver and Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre, Banff. Supported by Galleria Franco Soffiantino, Turin. The exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery is supported by the Henry Moore Foundation and Outset Contemporary Art Fund.

Melanie Gilligan was born in Toronto in 1979. She currently lives and works in London and New York. Gilligan completed a BA (Hons) Fine Art at Central Saint Martins in 2002 and was a Fellow with the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Programme in 2004-5. Recent exhibitions include: Transmission Gallery Glasgow (2008) as part of the Glasgow International Festival and Franco Soffiantino Gallery, Turin (2009). In 2008 Gilligan released Crisis in the Credit System, a four-part fictional mini drama about the recent financial crisis, made specifically for internet viewing and distribution, commissioned and produced by Artangel Interaction. She has recently completed a single screen film Self-capital (2009), commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Arts London as part of the group exhibition ‘Talk Show’. In October 2009 Gilligan was the recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists.

Chisenhale Exhibition Partner 2010:
Outset Contemporary Art Fund

Talks and Events

Saturday 15 May, 2pm
Melanie Gilligan talks to writer Marina Vishmidt about Popular Unrest and her recent work.
Thursday 3 June, 7pm
Melanie Gilligan leads a film and discussion evening examining the influence of popular television programmes on her own work.
Saturday 19 June, 2pm
Nina Power, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Roehampton University, discusses key themes explored in Melanie Gilligan’s new film.

*from Popular Unrest, 2010


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