Barry Chapter 5

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S.R. So, maybe one last official question; you were talking a lot about your work and how was you approach in an artistic way. How do you describe your typical daily work as an artist. Has it changed in the last twenty years?

R.B. No, it hasn't changed very much. It depends what I'm doing: If I make videos, I have to go to a studio... I make videos now mostly and I have an assistant in New York and one in Paris. And so I basically sometimes shoot my own video but I like to work on the computer and generate words and colors; every couple of months I go and sit down with her for several days and work on the computer to make the videos. Making art is a lot of different things for me; it's traveling. If I'm installing a piece, I have to go to the location, I have to work with people who make vinyl letters. It's not going to a studio every day at a certain time and making paintings. I don't do that, even when I was making paintings, I didn't do that. Because I'm always changing, always working with the situation ... with different people; it's more of inventing on the spot, how I'm going to approach this, ... solve these problems, deal with these situations as they come up. There are a lot of technical situations that have to be solved. If you look around the show, you see there are projections, there is a light projection, there is video, there is text, there is drawing on the wall, there is publications, there is lots of things that I do. So every day is a little bit different and I may go for many days without really doing anything except to sort of thinking about things a little bit or I may just get involved with the business of life and having to take care with problems at home. Generally what I do is, I set up a schedule for the next several months. I'm in a very lucky position in that people ask me to make exhibitions without my having to ask them; the only time I ever went to a gallerist and asked for an exhibition and I thought – ...she was very cold and not at all responsive. I left very quickly; I realized that I had made a very serious mistake by doing this. I found out later that she just was a kind of manic-depressive who was tired of American artists asking for exhibits. This was many, many years ago when I was just starting out. I'm very lucky I've never asked for an exhibition. D ealers have come to me and asked me for shows. And if the deal is a good win and I know that I will organize sth. ... and that sets a date and I have to have work done by that date, and I try to make all my shows different so that no two are the same. So if I space them out that keeps me busy, and each show, or project, or installation, or group show or whatever it is, I think about that and focus on that: how will that be different, what can I do that's new, that's different and refreshing to me so that I don't fall into the trap of repeating myself all the time? The whole point is to not repeat yourself, keep it interesting, keep your mind active; I always try to present something different. So you could say that I make work for exhibitions; I just don't go into the studio and make work on my own. I always have something in the future that I have to make a work for, and I have to think about that situation and that's kind of challenging to do that and to come up with something that's interesting. Now I'm making a lot of videos, I've been doing it for about five years. I haven't shown much, and in the next few years I'll show a lot of videos. For a while I was doing mirror-pieces; they were successful, and before that I was doing big installations for museums and businesses. I was working with architects. There is always something new ... something different. I try to work with the situation that's presented to me and plan for that. And as I said, I don't go in the studio and just make art. I need some challenge, something to force me to make it.

S.R. So you would call yourself not a studio artist?

R.B. No. I have a studio, I have an office where I sit, I work in a video-studio – it's not mine –   somebody else's, but I don't know what that means. I also work on location and .... Sometimes I like to work by myself, work things out. Painting was interesting because, if you'd made a mistake you could always change it and go back. If I do a wall-piece ... you really only have a limited amount of time to do it. Say I have to do a big wall-piece for an exhibition and there is an opening day; I have to go there a few days ahead of time, plan it and do it; there is very little chance for corrections. So it's kind of like preparing for a football match or something, I mean you do have a lot of experience, you know what you gonna do, but you never know if you are going to win or not or if you going to play a good game, but it's interesting to do it, and you hope that what's finished is good enough; you are never really quite sure what it is going to look like. That's one way of doing it; then is another way of going to your studio and making a painting and correcting it and trying to do it very good and then when it's finished you ship it off to some gallery to show it. That's a very different way of working; you can make corrections and go over it and do things in painting which you can't do working on the wall. Working on the wall you have a great scale and you can do things with light changing and size that you can't do in the studio. Every situation presents different problems and you just have to work with that. And it's something that I like doing.

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