Bochner Chapter 5

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S.R. The next question is touching this area, this (...) realm. What is your aim [...], an aim, which you want to reach with your practice, sth. like a goal?

M.B. Yes, I like to get up every morning and come in my studio and have something to do that interests me (laughs). And when what I'm doing ceases to interest me or when I have some feeling that I know what the results are going to be beforehand, then I stop doing it because I can't face getting up the next morning. That's my abiding goal, [...] to keep myself awake and interested in what I'm doing. I don't think I'm very different from most other people; if something interests me there's a very good chance that it's going to interest someone else (laughs). [...] If it does interest someone else that's fine, I've done things that interest other people. But I've also done a lot of things that nobody else was interested in (laughs). That's the chance you take.

S.R. The funny thing is, that was the wrong answer to the right question (laugh) because I wanted to ask you about that two steps later. Okay, let's come to the next question: Do you think that conceptual paradigms – if there was sth. like that – [...] So, do you think that the conceptual paradigms are still in function, if there was sth. like paradigms? Or do you think that the need is to always renew sth. like critical paradigms to the traditional art?

M.B. My background is too much in dialectics to believe that paradigms last (laughs). There was a certain necessity at a certain point in time for a certain kind of work; historical context is set up. As an artist I reacted against that context. I always feel that as an artist I'm reacting against something – that's my attitude towards things – that there has to be some contradiction that you're dealing with. Sometimes it can be one's disgust with what everyone else is doing, a lot of times it's one's disgust with what you are doing yourself (laughs), but it's something you're having this argument with. Those contradictions are addressed in the work, and if the work is interesting in some way then it seeks some resolutions at those contradictions but as it finds a resolution of those contradictions it creates new contradictions. That doesn't mean anything solved or ended in this process but it means that as the historical context changes without any intimation of progress then new contractions arise and you are reacting to those kinds of contradictions. Of course as you go on you have your own history that you are dragging behind you which permits certain kinds of movement and denies other kinds of movement and you're constantly fighting that. Because there is that wonderful line of Matisse where he talks about the Chinese artists who change their names three times during their lifetime because they didn't want to be stuck with the work that they had done before. Any artist who is fortunate enough to live and work for a certain length of time would be happy to change their name in order to say, well I could go over here and do this and see what would happen. I'm constantly trying to find that room to maneuver within my work where (...) it creates a surprise. A surprise is the best synonym for the word aesthetic that I can come up with because an aesthetic response, a response to an artwork is a surprise because you don't expect it, don't anticipate it, you can't will it's outside of your ability to determine, it comes about. When you see sth. that surprises you then you realize that sth. has happened that was unanticipated, that makes you interested, (...) keeps you interested. Surprise cannot occur if you're merely reworking outdated paradigms (laughs) and contradictions which is not to say that earlier artists' work [...] is incapable of making me rethink things that I'm doing. I have seen recently certain paintings by Seurat that give me ideas for these paintings (laughs).

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