Bordowitz Chapter 3

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S.R. What is of special interest for me is this relationship between the identity politics in art with the aspect of the public, the public sphere...to come back to the question [...] for me the high interest is this relation, this way from identity politics through public sphere and the other way, identity politics is not thinkable without the public sphere [...]. Now you explained in an understandable way, how you came from political involvement to identity politics and reflections on the representation system and things like that. Maybe you can say a little bit about the public sphere. How do you project – as an artist – how do you project this public sphere? Or how are you participating?

G.B. (...) I got my understanding of the way the artist fits into the public sphere through Y. Rainer; she said: I only talk about the personal insofar as it's social as it's political (smiles). I was very influenced by that early on. I don't think of myself as separate from the public sphere [...] as approaching the public sphere. All I have to do is think about my own life and my own daily encounters and engagements, and I'm already in the space of the public sphere (smiles) and I don't keep that out of my art basically. Instead of (...) all I have to do to be in the public sphere is make an effort not to exclude the social from my account of my life. I'm very much an autobiographical artist although I... because I'm also an artist who is influenced by Modernism. I'm interested in telling my own story as long as I'm able to tell other people's stories as my own. It's about ownership. My story is not my story, my story is the story of someone that's being lived out in a way that many other people are living it out. I don't see it as a entirely unique articulation; I think there are things that are singular about my life as there are things that are singular about everyone's life, but I also think that there is an enormous portion of my life that's lived in the way that thousands of people are living it. I focus on that largely when I'm doing my autobiographical work. I think identity politics would seem like it would be unthinkable in the context of Conceptual art, but what I've always done is try to productively bring opposites into contact with each other so that they notify each other. Conceptual art and all of the theoretical underpinnings of it – language theory, the preoccupation with Wittgenstein – helped me to understand what it means to say, I am gay, I am a person with Aids. I understood through my theoretical studies and also through looking at people like M. Rosler, A. Piper and others and Yvonne, that to identify as sth. was to merely occupy a place in language for moment. I understood that it didn't refer to sth. essential in me necessarily it was a place from which to speak. And if you look at my work all of the identification in my work are about and endless chain of substitutions of identities. I'm very interested in identifying as sth. in order to burden it and destroy it to some extent as an identity. I understand it as a vehicle perhaps; an identity could be a vehicle for a flight toward liberation, and I understand how temporary, how ephemeral that is. And I understood that because of my understanding of language through Conceptual art. I'm very interested in bringing... Another aspect of the autobiographical in my work is to – when I'm out in the world doing politics as an activist or an organizer – I try to bring what I know about representation and language theory directly into that work; or when I'm in the art world or at a screening or teaching, teaching is where a lot of it happens [...]. I bring all of that experience of my life and the various identities I have into that as well; I try to break down the borders.

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