Siegelaub Chapter 2

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S.R. If we focus on this, it's getting clear, it's very soon getting clear that your function in relation to the work of the artist as a curator is totally different from the function of the curator in a White Cube. Because if you use a place in the so-called public sphere that is not defined as the presentation place for art, you have to settle and you have to to define this place as an art-reception place. And I think this exactly marks the specific new work that you did.

S.S. In a way, yes, but it's also framed by a lot of activities that were going on at the time, for example, Guerrilla theatre, Street Theatre, Graffiti etc. You know when you think of graffiti, street theatre ... I remember Twyla Tharpe was dancing on building tops, in the streets and through the museums. There was a lot of attempt, maybe ours was the most crystallized and the most thought-out maybe ... that's not the word- the most crystallized, but there were a lot of attempts, and if you look at the period ... Even Daniel Spoerri's bar in Düsseldorf or something ... as an art activity coming out of Fluxus and all that kind of thing. So there was a lot of attempts to try to get away from a formalized art physical space but also an art social space in a way. And because of the nature of work of Lawrence and Doug and Larry and Bob – their work lend itself to that possibility more than most other kinds of work; because it wasn't space-dependant, it didn't require the space necessarily - sometimes it does - ... and it could take place in various kinds of media which before were just not viable means of exhibition. (...) One example is the use of a catalogue as an exhibition. There have always been catalogues, although I'm sure in the last twenty years catalogues have multiplied by a thousand times in the art world, not just because the world of art has multiplied by a thousand – which is also true – , but also because people have realized that many more people see a catalogue than ever see an exhibition. And it has a life, a temporal life which far extends the 5 or 6 weeks or two months or things like that ... But there's another factor too, it's that the art that was created ... What I was trying to say [...] is that from the role of the catalogue with this kind of work changed dramatically, and I have referred to it as the difference between primary and secondary information. In other words, it was possible with the work of Lawrence, Doug, Bob and Joseph and many other people too, not many, but other people too ... to be able to ... a printed piece of catalogue or a printed object could convey what I would call primary information about the ... It wasn't about showing a color painting that was this big which in reality is that big, which is just like a little sign pointing towards the real art – it was all there. It's not just an inverted relationship, but it's another kind of relationship. That opened up a whole series of possibilities, theres many other ways ... Printed matter was one of my things. I like publishing books, I always have and I suppose I always will, although I suppose I should spend a little more time thinking about the web things like that... I personally have always been involved with publishing, I've always found it extremely gratifying. The work that they were doing ...or the ideas behind the work that they were doing lent itself to this kind of presentation. So certain shows, like the January show, we tried to – succesfully or more or less I think - to invert the relationship. In other words, there were two objects from each artist in the physical space, which is like examples for what was in the catalogue. And the catalogue was the full show in which four artists, each did eight works or something, presented in the catalogue. Even if you didn't see the show ... Lawrence of wall removal or Bob Barry's radio waves or whatever. So ... you got it! I mean, it wasn't about coming into 40th – at that time the building was at 52nd Street - It didn't mean you had to go to the building: Oh he's so fantastic«... ads in the newspaper [...]. It entirely wasn't about that.

S.R. When I take this catalogue, you mean, this is the exhibition.

S.S. Yes. This is not the case for all the projects, but in many of the projects ... This wasn't the case for all the exhibitions, but it was an underlying aspect of, like, the Huebler exhibition e.g., for the January show, the Xerox book, for example. It allowed you to ... I mean that was it! This was not like a promotional piece ... or like: for the real work you go into a gallery, there was no exhibition.

S.R. ... if I understood it right, that was a little bit the critical view of Alexander Alberro, because he said, from that time on when you managed to do exhibitions in a printed version like this, that was a very important step for art. // S.S. I agree, I agree...! // But in the last times, more and more this has become the art of public relations.

S.S. Ok. (..) I think very highly of Alex, I think very highly of his fundamental research into the period. Very few people, or nobody knows the material, the dates, the whos, the whats and the wheres.. as well as Alberro; he spent much of his working life, five or ten years ... scratching out all that information. And with the exception of Lucy Lippard [...] ... who has left the art world, who left her interest in this period ... He knows an awful lot about it. But he thinks that a publicity agent is a great thing. He thinks of it as a positive thing, I think of it as a negative thing. I was against the subtitle of the book »The Politics of Publicity«. I was going to use a more Habermas-kind of Politik, or the publicness or the public sphere I suggested as opposed to the idea of this is like a kind of like an advertising hustle in a way ... maybe like someone [...] like Saatchi ... He's like really a promotional wizard of advertising [...] that's where his life-experience comes from [...]. I didn't like the word publicity, to me it has a completely negative connotation. We discussed it a long time, but somebody at the press, maybe Benjamin Buchloh [...], they really insisted on it; I gave them a whole list of alternative name that where turning around »public sphere«, »public...« to avoid the harshness of the word. But that's maybe a difference ... a generational thing. There's a little bit of Warhol in that, too, sort of an advertising genius. But I never thought of myself as that ... I'm not insulted, I don't agree with that; the facts are correct ... but I don't think of myself as being some kind of advertising genius, [...] hang on a pole on the Empire State Building for art or something like this, I was never like this. I'm sort of a very private person and although I worked very closely with these people, as I have worked with other people in other spheres, ... I'm not into that kind of ... that's not my persona. Like everybody, I suppose, I like to be well-known and respected for what I did and what I do, but I really don't need all the hype shit that goes with that kind of thing. So I don't see myself as a [...] kind of ... I mean I'm kind of offended by ... the Warholian kind of ... sort of mass-marketing of art. [...] If I can put it another way, in more industrial, economic terms: I see myself being involved with fundamental research, not with mass marketing. In other words, I'm not interested in making Lawrence Weiner a household name, or Huebler, or something like this ... no more than I'm interested in everybody following or picking up what I'm doing now [...]. I'm interested in that participation, I'm interested in the search, the investigation of new modes of whatever, in this case of art making or the art making process. So, I mean, that's how I see my work. And to a certain degree, to the moment that I think I've achieved it (...) which is never clear ... I mean, it's not that it's clear... I leave it to do something else. In other words, I felt like that, as much as I'm capable of doing, I can't take the project any further, it's becoming – with these artists for example, and with art in general – you become like a caricature of yourself: re-do it, get some more artists, put them in the pipeline and hustle them because I'm well-known [...] -which is what a gallery does! They make a reputation, they build up a network of relationships, museums, collectors [...] friendships ... and then they put a young artist in the center ... Some do it very well, but that's not what I'm interested in. I mean I'm not interested in being a gallerist, that was never my intention. Although, to be perfectly honest, ... I'm assimilated more with the independent curator as a phenomenon which appeals to me more, if I had a choice. Again, I would never use the phrase myself; I never thought of myself as an independent curator, probably because a curator was someone who worked in a museum. There was no independent curators. I was just doing my thing with these artists, with many artists, too, [...] I was just doing my thing... (break, telephone)

S.R. ... Free curatorship. Or if a free curator is possible for you or not ...

S.S. Oh yes ... I was assimilating myself with the experience of curating in a way ... although the phrase itself never came up. I mean I never called myself: Hey I'm an independent curator or something... It was only when that phenomena – which has developed over the last 20 years with independent people.... which is related of course to the growth of museums, the role of museums, which is ... etc.; a lot of the models can be found in the music industry for independent curators, like independent labels or ... even independent filmmakers... feeding the big filmmakers [...] That was my role, more than a gallerist. I never saw myself as a gallerist...


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