Art & Language Chapter 9

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S.R. There's only one question and //And it's a big one (laughs)// It's an easy and maybe a little bit funny one. How would you describe your typical daily work as an artist?

Michael: [...] You could put it in that sense of the absurd (?): get up, put on clothes, kiss wife...

Mel: Say, Oh Fuck, I got to go to the studio...

Michael: ...get in car, drive to studio. [...] As you get to be antiques as we are you develop not only a kind of future but you develop a past, which comes back and bites you. So you are often servicing the past as much as you are servicing your putative télos.

Mel: And you can't do nothing about this past. It just gets bigger and bigger.

Michael: It comes after you. So you have to have a studio because you've got to service the past. What do we do at the studio... I'll tell you a joke: Charles Harrison, I got in auditorium with him to work on a literary project, came into the studio the other day. And we were doing a certain amount carpentry and at the same time writing the obituary of Richard Wollheim. So I said to Charles, well take your choice, you have to come to the carpentry and obituary department of the studio. (laughs) The studio tend to be - I suppose Marx might have approved. We certainly engage in a large number of activities for the physical production of the work on the grounds of a kind of... Okay now we're doing obituary and carpentry but doing the carpentry is connected to a kind of self-denying ordinance or something, or anti-Wagnerian pledge. [...] Because of our beginnings, let's take the Richard Serra syndrome - what's better than 100 tons of steel or 1000 tons of steel – and you used the telephone to get it. So you can become a kind of Wagnerian neurotic in relation to the scale and ambition of the work. So we tend [...] to limit ourselves into things that we actually are capable of physically constructing. We have to learn the skills to do this. And sometimes it can be quite fun and sometimes it can be very depressing. But the artisanal skills, things that we do, practice as best we can as well as the other things which I have no doubt we are equally inept at. [...] We do art historical work. Sometimes it's among the dust, something's being written [...]. There's a kind of variety in it and certainly it's very impure as a daily practice, it tends to have episodes in it, which are very disconnected in many ways.

Mel: We rarely go to exhibitions. When we do it's usuallly informative, but we don't hang around galleries (laughs and looks around) –  except when we do...

Michael: [...] Neither of us has much of a fascination for the art world. We're not very fascinated, never have been. It's an extraordinary world where the most amazing intellectual pygmies are overrated dealers and entrepreneurs. [...] It's best avoided. You only go out either for money or for important events. [...] We have a fairly regular and long week at the studio including Saturdays [...] and otherwise lead fairly quiet lives (...) with momentary excursions.

S.R.: So thank you very much. It was very interesting and fun in some points. And I think we can use this very well. So there's only one more point. If you want to say, if you have something on your heart that you want to say that you want to add, a specific thing.

Michael & Mel: No, there's no personal message for the world.

S.R.: Okay then thank you very much!


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