Asher Chapter 9

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S.R. Maybe lets take a small concern to the question of site and site specificity. To put it very ... I don't want to say radically, but to think it to the end. Like in your work in Bern in the Kunsthalle... site specific work means for me that if the exhibition is over, the work cannot exist any more. Because, like in this work, it's only documented; after that, the space will be rebuilt – or how do you see that?

M.A. Absolutely that way. Alao it's pretty hard, almost impossible for these works to be done elsewhere. They are very specific to both, the time and the space. And, yes, like you say, once the exhibition is over – that's it, they can't be transferred to some other place without a tremendous amount of modification, and then they lose their meaning at that point. If I don't care about the original meaning that's fine, I could do that, but I do so much, and these works are so specific to the context that I want to hold on to that. To move it would also suggest that the first meaning has little merit or little importance to me, and that's the other reason I don't do that.

S.R. Does it ever happen that somebody took a piece of it and try to have it as like a fetish and ask you to sign it or something like that, something like a valuable piece of these types there?

M.A. No, I have never run into that. Somebody told me that they had a piece of one of my old works, just a small piece. I don't know if they are doing that.

S.R. There is only one question left, there is a last question and it's a little bit personal and away, because I'm also interested in your mode of working, or your interest in working and, maybe, a little bit, your habits. And the question is: Can you imagine what would be your ideal typical daily work as an artist?

M.A. Well, it would primarily turn around working on my artwork, or if I'm engaged in school I would work at school, but if it's working as an artist on my artwork it's not something that starts at one time and ends at another. I try to use every day of the week, seven days, and I attempt to do everything I can within that day. I mean, it's as simple as that. But some of these things, some of this research takes years to do, and so, if I have, sometimes I'll dedicate a day to just do the research, sometimes I'll dedicate a day to just answering letters, and sometimes I'll dedicate a day to something else that has to do with the work. That's pretty much it, it's really actually quite simple.

S.R. So, thank you very much that you dedicated two hours to us, to our work. Thank you very much.

M.A. Ok, so, I probably scratch out # Thank you. I'll probably scratch out a lot if I see a lot of duplication because there is a lot of duplication or a redundancy. If that happens I would absolutely have to ... refuse. Usually the institution, and I have an agreement that everything is just granted#. Like with these pipes, they were resold for construction, for housing or something like that... in canals. They were sold at a very low rate so that people can afford them, we didn't have the money.... I always try to build in sth. ahead of time, so that; and how this piece of plaster from this one work – it was just a plaster letter – it seems like the museum threw away all the other plaster letters. I don't know, I don't know how it... it wasn't thrown away also. The funny thing about these works also is, if I had the exact same conditions, they could be built because they are not built out of really exotic materials; it's not like trying to reconstruct a brushstroke or something like that. They are just really all pretty much all simple materials that are around and pretty existing.

S.R. Not marble or whatever...

M.A. No. Well, there is one work which is granite, but it's a permanent outdoor sculpture, and I'm just a sort of mimicking the idea of an outdoor granite sculpture with it. (laughs)

S.R. Which one is that?

M.A. Oh, it's in San Diego, California, at the University of California, and it's a granite drinking fountain; it's on a long walkway, in this grassy area, which is actually a pathway between buildings. It's one of the few objects on the whole campus which shows the origins of that campus or its prior function at least. About 40 feet in front of that almost in the walkway, so that's the first, the second thing is a flagpole with the American flag on; on the same walkway I put a drinking fountain in granite right here, and it's only to ... I made sure what it did. It looks like a standard fountain, except granite; it's made exactly like into 1/32 of an inch, precisely like a middle fountain, the one of the most popular ones used throughout Southern California. It only is .... this logic which starts out very materially, about how materials # – this is unfinished granite, this is finished granite; It's This is very overwhelming to the viewer and the body; this is made for the body etc. You keep going back and forth, and you can see all these oppositions until you get into their function – this was obviously for war, this is done to utilize the peaceful resources – and things like that. So the students coming to it can develop all the way down those lines, if they chose; maybe they don't chose.



Michael Asher