Buren Chapter 3

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S.R. If you read this text, you also understand that the term of idea is a problematic one, because if you have an idea you can make art, if you don't ... you cannot ... this is absurd but interestingly is that f. e. Sol LeWitt was thinking on this term of idea as a production (?) of art and some years later Joseph Kosuth formulated a very self-reflexive, very tautological term of »idea« – »art as idea as idea« - if I understand it right, your whole practice – the thinking, the writing, the painting or the installation, however you call it – is performing a specific kind of idea in the field of art but it's not focused on [...] an idea in the Platonic sense - for me it's exactly the opposite. Am I right?

D.B. I think you are correct. It would be stupid to say that you can do something without any idea or without thinking. But in art in general [...] ideas are very dangerous; it's not enough. Anyone can have ideas. If you have ideas, it's good for you, if you have a series of ideas ... but to base the work for ... 40, 60 years with ideas, you are sure such a thing does not exist. It's based on a thing much more complex, ... kind of a ping-pong between the way of making something, then the idea coming from the object, and back to the idea etc. For me especially from the context which I started to work exactly .... 67/68.... and more and more only focusing all my work on the place where the work is going to be seen. If I have one originality, this one to work in situ which is also work which I more or less not invented but used for the first time which became an impossible word ... like usual, because being used by different people for very different purposes. But when I said that it was really attached to my work, which was done in the place, living in the place, visible in the place and most of the time destroyed in the place. This was something much more on my interest and on my style of thinking than anything else. But from what you said about the thing based on an idea, I will not say just the contrary ... I always said that the work of art – and that was my strongest conflict with the idea of conceptual art – is the fact that for me a work of art has to be visible. Then it can be absolutely anything we can imagine, but if it's not visible, if it's not existing concretely ... for me it does not exist or it's part of another category which can be whatsoever... music... or what you want... but it's not visual art. And if we still are more or less in this domain we also have to analyze what this domain means, and it's too simple to say, all the 20th century is fight against the object, everything important done for one century was always a fight against the object, with the idea how to get free of the object ... Of course, I think it's a still very important question, but to solve that question to say, we don't make any more objects, was always for me totally foolish. If you look back, you also can see that even the ones who speak like that at that time did produce quite a lot of objects and continue to do it.

S.R. ... I liked very much that you always talked about the thing that is visual ... are you able to see it? if you don't see it, it's maybe a different kind of art ...

D.B. I don't say it's impossible but at least for myself it's related to something else, which can have any names you want, but it's not in the domain of visual art. To escape of that it's only possible if you do something else, again, you go to another site. But if you work in this domain, to escape from that and then to have a proof then it's important or it's good to have escaping, it's a joke [...] it was some example as far as it was very quick and not repeated, if you take the work with the gas by Bob Barry this kind of work makes a big problem. What do we speak about? Is that visible? – not at all. It's a good idea? – maybe, I don't know. What does this idea mean, in what category they exist? In a way they are almost like a pure concept work, but he did not even follow that; that was one work, two or three around this idea, and then becoming to be a, more or less, a painter. You can see that with almost every people in the so-called conceptual art, especially from the people who were supposedly the most radical, about the vanishing of objects, the non-existence of objects, ... which is an impossible situation. ... Maybe the only example which I think [...] is not without an object but returns the idea of the object in a very different way and is still extremely consistent with this basic idea, is someone like Ian Wilson; he is the only artist I know who since now more than thirty years // S.R. What is his name? // D.B. Ian Wilson ... only does what he called discussion or conversation or exchange where the result is in your memory. So, in a way any conversation is a really materialized thing, in a way it's almost like an object , a conversation is kind of an object but in his way to practice it's no result, except what you have in your memory and what maybe he has in his memory and that thing is the corpse of his work. Not to make any comment – is it fabulous? is it very good ? is it weak? I think it is the only artist you can mention who is consistent in front of such a thing since 1968/69; I've no other example. Of course you can imagine that such a position is completely outside of the society, in that term it's outside of the society not only like maybe all the artists like to be outside of the society, but he is so outside of the society that to survive with such a work is almost like a crazy life; he has to be a monk or something. Is not to make a critique, but it's the only example I can see about someone who maintains the idea of not producing an object of any sort, except the volatility of the conversation which I think is a very strong object but this objects disappears just after the fact.


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