Buren Chapter 6

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S.R. ... For me it's interesting to ask: is it possible to renew an approach like this, to say, I don't want to build something like a fetish that can be always valued and exchanged ... for money or for other art pieces ... I think this was one of the strongest breaks in the history of art with the autonomous object ... the "masterwork", you also call it in some of your texts. Do you think, maybe we are wrong and some people will say this time it's not the most important thing that you don't build a development because an art work only exists when it is mediated. And if the artwork is mediated - it doesn't matter if it's a painting, an installation or whatever - then it's taking something like a cultural value, or an cultural-exchange value or a symbolic value. Do you think it's possible to renew this approach, this implicit critique of the object, the exchange object?

D.B. I hope so and I believe so. There are many ways to break this thing, just you have to take this basic risk, not to say that it's impossible – and I think I am a good example to show that it's not impossible to survive – but you have to invent almost everything. If it's only to sell a work ... any kind of object, it's not easy and very few artists succeed in doing already that ... like an autonomous object, but at least we know the rule and we know that such a rule implies the kind of freedom of exchange, the possibility not to control what's happening with your work which is also a very tricky position – if you go to America, we know that the property is only what you buy, if you remain in Europe, especially in France, you know that when you buy the work you are not buying the moral rights, but in America such a thing even doesn't exist. As an American you can only know that what you sell is forever something else. In Europe you might fight to say, I sell my object but you cannot do that and that, and I still have the right to say you cannot do it. But if you don't give the possibility to transform the work to a third, to a second buyer, then you really short-circuit this mechanism. To my point of view, and of course it's not a model ... , with my own work, most of the cases I succeed in doing that. It's ...not to say this is escaping of everything ... but at least it's very clear that someone who buys a work – and that's maybe the reason why since ... twenty years I'm often doing public works – they buy the work ... and after that that work will never be installed any place else; so no one can buy it back as the work which is bought by the city of Torino or Tokyo or Paris. ... especially because even these works are not as an object which is maybe known especially for a place; it's an object ... which takes a full place into account; you cannot sell the Empire State Building to go to Japan, I mean of course it's possible... that can happen that you can immediately see the kind of extravaganza, and if you do that once, that's finished forever. ... The way of exchange ... has many way s to be different can be re-invented or invented as well as some artist can re-invent painting; they are not the first to do a painting, but sometimes, very difficult, very rare, you have an artist who makes new painting, and that's a new invention even with a very old medium – so why not invent another way of relation with the people who are supposedly collectors, museum collections ... Of course it's extremely difficult ... to already sell one work, one object, it's extremely complicated.


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