Liam Gillick and A Variability Quantifier
Launched on October 3, 2022 on Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, A Variability Quantifier is an art installation incorporating an operational weather station.
Nicknamed “The Fogo Island Red Weather Station,” the work is part of the World Weather Network, an array of weather stations conceived by artists and writers around the world.
A Variability Quantifier will remain on Fogo Island until October 2026, and is currently being acquired by the National Gallery of Canada.
About the Project
Liam Gillick’s A Variability Quantifier is one of twenty-eight climate-related projects by arts organizations across the globe. Dubbed the World Weather Network, the international initiative incorporates weather stations from Iceland to the Philippines, in environments including oceans, deserts, mountains, farmland, rainforests, observatories, lighthouses and cities.
For a full year, beginning on June 21, 2022, artists and writers will share “weather reports” as stories, observations, images and imaginings on their local weather, creating a global snapshot of voices and ideas on climate change.
Fogo Island faces onto Iceberg Alley, making A Variability Quantifier an ideal location from which to monitor the impact of a warming world on icebergs. With input from local partners, Gillick designed the weather station as a two-thirds-scale traditional fishing stage. Equipped by the community with meteorological instruments to track and measure weather conditions, the installation will serve as Fogo Island’s publicly accessible weather station — collecting local data and making it available through a specially designed website, while also providing a venue for education, discussion and reflection.
A Variability Quantifier (The Fogo Island Red Weather Station), 2022 was curated by Claire Shea and Nicolaus Schafhausen of Fogo Island Arts, in collaboration with Josée Drouin-Brisebois of the National Gallery of Canada.
About the Artist
Liam Gillick is a British-born artist based in New York City. His work explores the dysfunction of modern society through the lens of globalization and neo-liberalism, in exhibitions, installations and film. In addition to solo exhibitions at venues such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Tate in London, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, his work has been part of numerous international exhibitions, including documenta, and the Venice, Berlin and Istanbul Biennales.
Gillick often addresses construction of the creative persona and the contemporary artist as cultural figure in his films, which have included Margin Time (2012), The Heavenly Lagoon (2013) and Hamilton: A Film by Liam Gillick (2014). In addition, he is a prolific writer and critic of contemporary art, contributing to publications such as Artforum and Frieze, while also authoring books such as the recent Industry and Intelligence: Contemporary Art Since 1820.
Gillick’s work is held in many important public collections, including those of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Guggenheim Museums in both New York and Bilbao, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He often incorporates experimental venues in his practice, and engages frequently with other artists on collaborative projects, including a series of concerts with the band New Order. He is also the recipient of numerous international awards.
Gillick’s project for Fogo Island further expands upon his interest in climate science, which he has explored in several recent works.
Art has always been used to understand and elevate our environment. This global project brings together so many new perspectives that it will accelerate critical thinking about our current crisis. — Liam Gillick
About the World
Initiated in London, England, the World Weather Network is supported by its participating arts agencies, as well as by the British Council’s Creative Commissions for Climate Action.
Featuring various ways of interpreting and exploring the environment and climate change, weather reports from artists and writers will be shared on the World Weather Network platform, from locations as diverse as the Himalayas, the Mesopotamian Marshes in Iraq, Great Salt Lake in Utah, the “Great Ocean of Kiwa” in the South Pacific, and farmland in Nigeria. In addition, participants are working in observatories in Japan and the Philippines, examining cloud data in China and lichens in France, and reporting from cities such as Dhaka, Johannesburg, London and Seoul.
Climate scientists, environmentalists and communities will participate in wide-ranging special events from each location, and online. Throughout the year, the London Review of Books will also be commissioning special reports from writers based in many World Weather Network locations.
Fogo Island Arts is a contemporary arts and ideas organization located on traditional Mi’kmaw territory, and the ancestral homeland of the Beothuk.
Founded in 2008 as an artist-residency program, Fogo Island Arts has since grown to offer a full slate of exhibitions, programming, publications and research, forging connections between local and global communities. Rooted in the belief that art and artists can encourage social change while offering fresh perspectives on contemporary issues, Fogo Island Arts explores human relationships with place, nature, financial capital and one another.
About Fogo Island
Fogo Island is Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest offshore island. It is currently home to a year-round population of approximately 2,200 people, boosted considerably by seasonal tourism.
The island gets its name from the Portuguese word fogo, meaning “fire” — a name given to the island in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers and fishing crews. For centuries prior to the arrival of Europeans, the island was home to the Beothuk people, who harvested seal and salmon, as well as feathers and eggs from nearby islands.
Fogo Island had become a thriving international fishing port by 1750, attracting Europeans to trade in sealskins, seal oil, furs, lumber, salmon and cod. Until the 1990s, when fish stocks went into sharp decline, cod fishing and processing underpinned the island’s economy. In recent years, the island has turned to the development of crab and lobster fisheries, in addition to tourism and the cultural industries.
In 1967, the island played a key role in developing the “Fogo Process,” which involves using community media to address local concerns. The Fogo Process has since been instrumental in helping the island to redevelop itself as a hub for the arts and eco-tourism.