Asher Chapter 8

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M.A. I guess what I thought is that your question was really – when you are talking about this coming back upon itself, perhaps you were alluding to the institution becoming more and more a forceful player in determining what the artist does, and as well as the market becoming a determining player. And that, I think, is the case, and that's what not only curators but galerists and people like this do hope, this movement back to, at least younger people feeling that there is a place where they can take on the veneer of Conceptualism. I'm not sure if that's really the question that you are asking, because you are looking for more of an epistemic place, ... a place where, I guess, the epistemology of Conceptual art Conceptualism can begin again. Is that part of this question again?

S.R. Yes, yes, yes.

M.A. I think it never went away, actually. It's always appreciated, particularly in Europe and other countries, I'm sorry, on other continents as well, maybe not so much in the U.S., but ... I think when the viewers experience a work that doesn't have some debt to the museum, or doesn't have some debt to the gallery, they really see the difference, they understand the difference and, like I said before, they can appreciate it. At the same time we have this, in the background, we have this return going on; like with the younger artists who are returning. I'm not sure I've really answered your question?

S.R. Yes, I think so, yes. Maybe it's not possible to answer the question, in one way. Maybe we have to constantly work on this answer. Maybe every new work is the effort to try to answer this question. But I think it's very important for me, in my perspective, it's very important to have this question, to have it in concern, to know about it.

M.A. Yes. I think, certainly it's an important question. But I think even more important is the fundament of what the job of the artwork is. If it's not any longer a place to move forward and develop and experiment with new ideas, then it leaves us to ask them what is its purpose, what is the situation of ... how it situates itself with one thing, one style or the next style, one ethic or the next ethic. Sorry, I'm not being very clear about what I'm saying. So, once again this idea of intellectual discovery should be permanent – so even if you are doing a painting or a sculpture. But we don't receive very little of this, and I guess that's why I'm bringing it up. And that for me is the most fundamental question.

S.R. Maybe I can take up one of your ideas of this last statement and turn the perspective a little bit around. Do you think it's important that every artist with a conceptual background has to develop his or her own medium, or do you think that it's also possible to work with painting, conceptually?

M.A. I never understood how there can be such a thing as conceptual painting, quite honestly. But that aside, I think when the artist looks at the problem and says, okay, how can this best be articulated – and it might be painting, sculpture, it might be with grass, I don't know – but I think to, sort of putting the materiality ahead of the idea is perhaps a bad way of, not a good way of really demonstrating a problem. I don't know if this does answer your question, damn it.

S.R. ... yes, it was an answer because it's always a question of the context. If I understood it right you were implying the context ....

M.A. Absolutely. That drives the decision, that's true, what to use. Absolutely.

S.R. For example if you want, I mean it's not possible to translate your work in Bern to a painting, but I can imagine – just as a vision or a fiction – I can imagine if you decided to do it with sculpture, it would be different. But it has some sculptural aspects. That, for me, as I said in the beginning, that was one of the interesting things that I was so irritated by it, so it drove me to a different state of mind because I understood something that I couldn't see before.

M.A. I don't know why physical bulk can't play a role in conceptual art, I've never understood it. And I think perhaps it's a better way even for me to question the problems of the institution, to not deny them or not to mitigate them or make them smaller in any way whatsoever, but it's just to be frank about it and forthcoming about it, and that's what the work does. If it's read as sculpture, that's great, but the undercurrent is that it's not a sculpture, and that's the beautiful part of that particular work. But it certainly has the presence of, like you`re saying – absolutely has the presence of a sculpture. It goes back – that's another aspect of the work - I had read often on about how .... Well, this is off the point .... It's about sculpture and Minimalism and the use of these types of buildings, and what I was ... reading was like the continuity of Minimalism as it took like van Abbe Museum or the Kunsthalle Bern and places like that. And I thought about some of the Minimalist projects that were written about that way in those museums that were very symmetrical in their organization. They were really often very discontinuous in a sense, they were made for ... certainly made for perhaps the museum show, but also with the mindset of being broken up later into gallery exhibitions or wherever, but to end up somewhere within collections. This idea of continuity was almost a claim which shouldn't ever have been applied to these works, I didn't feel. This work also attracts that idea a little bit of trying to argue that case ... although by this time people were probably realizing it, but it doesn't matter.

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