Art & Language Chapter 5

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S.R.: My next question is, it's maybe a little flattened... It's: What is your aim with your practice? Can you figure out something like an aim?

Michael: Art & Language and télos. The best I can manage is: if we stop it would be as if we had never begun.

Mel: We always have things to do.

Michael: [...] I mean I don't know how I feel about his work but we are engaged in a kind of activity which could be described, as I said, in Luhmannian terms as a kind of practice of re-description, of indexing re-description. The point about the re-description is that it tends to give you perhaps the only set of conditions in which you can start reflecting the conditions or circumstances in which you are doing it. There is a very aegis, or one might say central to the practice, a kind of memory of realism or a kind of sense that realism in one or the other provides a kind of discipline. It remains an art of describing in some ways. But given the extraordinary expansion or [...] rather naive expansion of materials that can be considered, one finds oneself [...] dealing in a somewhat reflexive universe but I don't know again, if we take many periods of art, I don't know any really that aren't essentially reflexive in some significant sense. So I haven't to make an apology for that although there would be those who think, in socialism might come in one art work, who would criticize us for that, for not being, how shall I put it, current enough or political enough in some direct sense. I've always had a great misgiving about the idea of the artist that centers stage-front in political transformation. I rather think that we deal in redundant political materials largely and there are moments of course when we have our ideological place. The other thing is, as I said earlier, we were very struck by, I hate to bring this up, God forgive me for bringing up Walter Benjamin. But his idea of the essay, the idea of a project which ran out of steam at some point, but which nevertheless had some sort of discursive or fruitful relationship with some other set of possibilities. Instead of having a great sense of the oeuvre one has a sense of the essay, seems [...] that your ambitions don't go to having some a grandiloquence of what your position might be historically, but your ambitions extend to finding another essay to engage in. It's as myopic as that.


Mel: That has always seemed part of the morale of conceptual art and to keep the morale of conceptual art going is I suppose one thing that we...


Michael: What conceptual art did you have in mind?

Mel: Well that's the point, isn't it?!

Michael: ...Because remember, conceptual art has developed its purists.

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