Green Chapter 4

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S.R.: Do you think that the conceptual paradigms are still in function? or is it worth (?) to renew a conceptual approach in art?

R.G.: (...) The notion of a conceptual paradigm was always a problematic one, and it's one that was refused by different of the people that have been labelled as Conceptual. But in terms of being able to speak historically about it, usually the terms are described as the historical Conceptual art. And it's just a way of being able to describe a number of different kinds of practices that might not want to be considered together, perhaps. But that you can identify, especially in retrospect, of a particular time and of particular ways of approaching encounters with the world and their experience then. And I think that there is a strain that continues; but of course, with time things have been transmuted, and there have been different possibilities, also, for thinking about these things because I think that for going to consider how art is always in form of dialogue with what has happened before or whether it's, (??) since the 60s with the contemporary media and with a broader entertainment industry. So, these things are factors of what people respond to, whether they are antagonistic or whether they are embracing. Or whatever they are doing and so I think that the response to what was imagined by some as a very dry kind of approach, focussing on typewriter text or printed text or things that you had to read really became something or something you couldn't sell easily or couldn't make very much money from I mean within a capitalistic structure wasn't going to really apply very easily. But the thing is that what's interesting about it is that I think more radical aspect of it, of artists being able to think and also the possibility of other people being able to think as well is something that... it may be a faint glimmer of that idea but I think there is still some kind of a strain that wants to continue, that is still trying to come through from all of that. Maybe the forms have changed, and in some cases there is a maybe a superficial engagement with some of the previous forms even, but I think that there is still a desire amongst some people to be able to engage with some form of thought, some form of meaning, some way of altering what can be perceived in a critical fashion. It's not as if it's an obvious thing necessarily, it can take many different forms as it did then. Many of the people are still alive, anyway, who were involved with that, and their practices have filtered into all kinds of publications, books, courses, educational forms and things like that as well as curatorial forms in a very strong way, in terms of curatorial forms.

S.R.: If we have a look at the contemporary art. There are nearly - contemptorary, I mean not the older generations of contemporary art, but the younger one - if there is something like that, there is very little art that cannot directly be related to developments coming out of the Conceptualists. But very little of these people are taking very conscious reference to Conceptual art. There were a lot of practices in the 90s of younger Middle-European artists who thought that they invent something like a totally new thing, and it was a little bit disturbing or a little bit boring that you always thought as an informed artist that you saw that and you said to yourself: maybe he is trying to imitate something that Robert Barry was doing in the beginning of the 70s or Lawrence Weiner was doing... And then you asked them, and then: Oh do you think so? And then you said: No, I don't think so, but I can show you the work in the catalogue or something like that.

R.G.: Exactly. That's partly why it's very important to have some sort of understanding or engagement in some way with the past, with what's been done. I think it's important to be aware of these things and have already happened, so as to be able to imagine re-combinations that relate to another time but with an informed perspective, not to imagine that anything is being invented. Most things are just being shuffled around a bit or moved around and changed, and the changes that are perceived as being new, have more to do with the fact that it's another time, it's not that anything is really new. It's always going to be different because it's a different person or a different place or what ever; there are many, many repititions that's a thing. But I think one of the questions to ask could be: what seems to mean anything at all at a particular time? Where can any form of meaning be found? That's one of the questions that I ask, a lot and so in terms of what I think, I mean when you ask me about what is my aim – I would say: to be able to ask that question and to attempt to answer it at different times, at least for myself. What means something? What could mean something beyond the usual things that were fed; all the things that circulate around in the media and the things that were being... trying to be convinced to buy or to consume. That's a main question for me, and I think that in a way that's one of the ones that was, in various ways was... it could lie underneath many of the attempts of various artists who would be described historically as Conceptual artists; trying to locate that at a particular moment when things seemed to be very much in flux, when the idea of what anything could mean seemed to be completely up for grabs, during the moment of various cultural shifts in addition to Vietnam War and the ways in which so many technological changes as well as moral changes and things like that, the independence struggles, all kinds of different things were taking place in the world; and trying to locate how it's possible to think or imagine how to live and how to find meaning in that seemed to relate to many different kinds of practices.

S.R.: So maybe Kosuth was right.

R.G.: In what sense?

S.R.: The artist is responsible for the production of meaning.

R.G.: That may be but I think that they were all responsible for that, and artists in particular as a chosen area of focus that deals with representation/forms of representation are kind of the bearers – among others, writers, other people who are attempting to represent something – are part of that. But I think that maybe one of the things that has changed is a broader view of who can represent what, and what kinds of forms this can take, and that particular western approaches are inadequate. And that there is a broader pool of people in the world – I mean they always were – but I think that at this particular time it's more possible/it could be more possible to listen to them.

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