Gillick Chapter 10

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L.G.: To a certain extent I see a lot of the legacy of conceptual practice within this kind of documentary tendency. One of the other crucial things is that we can`t look at art in isolation. Obviously again this is a truism Of course we can`t, but I mean in terms of the changes within curating. And also one of the things that doesn't get talked about very much, which is young art historians who are not necessessarily curators but they are coming up with new critical positions. One of the arguments I'm having right now a lot is about whether a version of this Utopia Station project from Venice should go to the World Social Forum in Puerto Allegre. And to a certain extent I was arguing strongly that, from an artist's position, I don't think it's a very interesting thing to do. I don't think it's productive, I think it's coquettish, even dilettantish to go there. But from a curating position it's quite interesting and I can see why the curatorial team wants to go and take the Utopia Station project to the World Social Forum because it's not that uninteresting from a curatorial standpoint. So I don't see why they can't just do that autonomously. I'm rather interested in these kinds of semi-autonomous fragmentings and shatterings of things. I don't see why you can't have just an semi-autonomous critical and curatorial position that is informed by recent art history thinking and people who are disappointed with art history and go into a more dynamic area who are also creating valid and valuable positions that are equally valid to other ones. So these things are all the legacy of the moment in art when people decided to speed things up... – which is what I also think happened with high-end Conceptual Art, it's a speeding-up of things, it`s an acceleration of what you are dealing with and how are adressing things. It's a speeding-up of art in relation to society, to cover a lot of territory. I think there are big political obligations now to adress the documentary function of art but also not to underestimate certain critical and curatorial positions as semi-autonomous. But I can`t get them to just go on their own. I think it would be quite interesting for the curators to go on their own. It's very difficult but it's a very interesting test case because the discussions around it have been happening with Hans Haacke, Lawrence Weiner, Martha Rosler, myself, [?], a couple of other people, Anton Vidokle. They are quite fraught discussions. There are not at all easy, whether to go, whether not to go. To send someone else, whether everyone should go, maybe all artists should go, maybe the whole thing is a joke, maybe the whole thing is a kind of neo-liberal trick to get everyone who has a tiny grievance in the world, to all go somewhere – relatively in power-structural terms - in the middle of nowhere as it were from a old school perspective and argue about it there. There's a lot of tension. I think that this is a way that the legacy of Conceptual Art can be interesting and valid which is to do with this kind of questions, the fear you can`t negotiate those kind of questions and make the negotiation of this kind of questions central to your work – that can be the work, that can be the thing that's happening, and that is an incredibly important legacy. And, of course, denying legacies as such can also be an important one. When you look at the programming of institutions – when you look at what gets done, what gets seen, what gets bought by the big museums, when you look at the gender-split of major shows in major museums. When you look at all these things you can see that the critical processes that started in 68, you could argue politically, and then continued and then came under incredible backlash-pressure in the 70s and 80s especially in the Anglosaxon world, there are still battles to be fought. Some artists do it with a soft touch and their rhetoric is a bit softer than others` but these processes are still crucial. I mean they are still really underway. That`s what I think.

S.R.: The interesting thing was that Hans Haacke was talking to us about Utopia Station why he is not able even to think of it. His argument was that he is so much involved in that what he calls reality or the daily life or what he feels into that he is not even able to think what could be something like Utopia. And that was typically Hans Haacke, I know him for a long time, and I like his kind of laconic, pragmatic putting the things because he is always so pragmatically bound with the situation he is with.

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