Kosuth Chapter 2

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S.R.: Beyond that, do you say that the favorite for you is more from literature or philosophy or the favorite is more art?

J.K.: From the very beginning, these distinctions weren't so necessary. There was a lot in art I found useless, bankrupt, used up, no longer relevant and that I inherited, just a truckload of this like every artist did, so one had to escape that. And you still heard artists talking about forms and color and space. Fine, let them; it has a life in the art school, it's the past, we should know the past. Art school is where you can still paint meaningfully as a study. So that was for me... Give me your question again, sorry.

S.R.: Your favorite: More literature, philosophy or art?

J.K.: Well the thing was that I wanted... Once you realize that art is not about forms and colors, it can be, of course, in the production of meaning but that's the point: it's about the production of meaning. And without that, artists have no political life and no real cultural life. You have to understand that. And if once at that point then you realize that in the realm of ideas all is usable, all is informative, and those are the materials. For me, using language – whatever form it takes, from philosophy and literature to more banal understandings – I mean the use neon came out of kind of advertising, then it was not a varified medium to find art. It didn't say: I'm art, because it came from bigger signs, it came from bigger signs and things - when I first did it. So I used typefaces that weren't normally used, I had done transformatory things but still the reference was to a kind of discourse, that was a public, advertising one. So one can use all kinds of language but... And you can take from all sorts of arenas, but me and you understand that your responsibility as an artist is the production of meaning. What is significant about that is that this is... people liked to say, Conceptual art is not art or radical. The truth is what Conceptual art did was, if you, like many people, see Conceptual art as the beginning of post-modernism. What we did, we returned art back to what it was before modernity – which was - whether you worked for the church or whatever, you were in the vocation of the production of meaning. What modernism was, was a focussing on the language of art itself; and all those movements is the increasing capacity and analysis of the languages of art. A brilliant, phantastic project modernism was, but by the time you go to the end of it – a painting can speak so loud a priori, no individual artist can say anything. The fact that your aunt and uncle in Bielefeld who know nothing about art, they see a painting and know it's art, that prior knowledge blocks the possibility of an artist to say something. So that is their own way of making art. So that when I spoke, then somebody understand what I'm saying and they don't have the institution of painting between me and them. And of course sculpture is the same; you can use an object in art – we all use objects – but it's not the same as being a sculpture. Sculpture is part of the ideospace of modernity; if you think of it as sculpture, then you've lost the fight. You can employ anything. Right now I'm making noises that affect your middle ear. It's a physical thing – speaking. But the point is not that. The point is the meaning. So this thing about materializiation, dematerialization was a real misunderstaning; Lucy Lippard who came out of Minimalism, that was her experience of it in the beginning, she was very valuable, but it put it off really where the focus was, because the focus really is this thing about the process of signification. And so it's not about more materials or less, it's about the context of meaning; we all have to employ some way to communicate, that is... it's gonna be a physical aspect. That isn't the point. It's really really a shift in the basic sea; there is a sea change about how we were producing art. That I think makes a very valuable contribution.


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