Sekula Chapter 4

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S.R. Did you see it as a critique?

AS.: The work of the 80s? Not much. [...] It wasn't a very convincing one for me. I mean I was more interested in the fact that, you know, the economy could be seen as bracketed by things like mining and banking ... or finance capital and industrial, that all these categories, finance capital and industrial capital ... it still had some meaning. The artists' fascination with the tertio(??) and commodity sphere was a kind of lookinglass-world that related to their own relation to the market; and perhaps at best a kind of ironization of their own relation to the market

S.R. When I see this kind how you are bringing critique of the ideology of the society we are living in and also the economical context of the American society in relation to global concerns ... When I see this, consider this in your work, there is always something like poetical – I would call it a poetical approach ... maybe specifically in last works, in the last two or three works ... I forgot the title of the work you did in France, what was the title ... You were working, you were showing this in a gallery in the south of Paris // A.S. »Titanic's wake«. In Tours... Oh, no no no I also did »Dead letter office«, the work from Mexico...

S.R. ... there I found some aspects, like you call it ... a kind of romantic impulses, something like that. Dou you think Something new in your work or you found it in your whole work, like in the beginning of the 80s. Was it a decision to write a little bit more in a personal perspective. Or am I wrong to think that you have it already in works of the 80s?

A.S I think I was still writing in a kind of ... Well, I think there are works in the 70s where this voice is there. But what's very interesting is ... I find it now in the most unusual places. One of the most interesting things to do the exhibition for Generali in 2003 ... was that when I went back to the very early audio-work from 1970 when I was interviewing people ... or just recording them clandestinely in museums, for example at the first Warhol retrospective at the old...(??) in 1970, and recording their comments as a kind of record of reception of works of art which of course in an audio piece we don't see, you only hear what people say.... What I found was that those ... [...] comments of museum visitors had a kind of poetic logic. That I'm ... That fascinated me at the time but I wasn't fully aware of, you know. And now that voice is something that I'd like to have to appear in ... (?) works, the tenor and rhythms of everyday speech, of a kind of common language or shared language... And I think The other thing is that I was increasingly interested in breaking down the barrier between the critical essay and the work of art, so that the whole research project could be neither one nor the other but some kind of new synthesis of the possibilities of both; [...] the sustained essay, ... kind of one meditating on a problem, trying to think about it, of examples, develop an argument, continue the question ... and then the work of the reporter-photographer and the reporter-writer loafing in with this kind of meditative and critical project in such a way that increasing this ... there are slight shifts of tone, ways they are framed within the work that indicate their differences ... they work as a ... they have a kind of unity. So part of it was trying to bring criticism and art-making together ... And I think in a very different way than the more strict and disciplined types of conceptual art sought to do that, [...] to really say: ok, it is a kind of essayistic endeavour but where the essay is defined as a kind of play with language and with languages as a ... all the polyphonic possibilities of language. I think the language does change after the 80s. (..) And what I think about an essay is, is somewhat different by '83 or '84. (...) Certainly the style of my critical writing when I, -if I can isolate something that I would call critical writing from the last 5 years and compare that to what I was doing in the 70s- I would say that the [...] style of the more recent things is more interesting. The style of the photographs has changed, too. From these early works like Aerospace Folktales, from a kind of a very grubby black-and-white repretorian (??) mode

S.R. ... this reminded me, especially this work reminded me a little bit to the aesthetics of the Nouvelle Vague. As I saw it the first time I was very impressed and that I thought: This is a kind of a photographic work that fits – for me- fits in the aesthetics of NV.

AS. Well, I think that the whole, if you take... One thing that appealed to me about the maritime subject matter You have this enormous archive of ... fund of images one has to thinks about it's Breughel ...early sea-battle paintings... the whole Dutch ... 17th century enterprise of sea-painting ... or Turner or Manets paintings ... sea paintings ... all the films that have been made about the sea ... you have ... the beginning of Mondrian's career in those wave-pictures from Holland that lead to abstraction, perhaps... [...] In some ways the challenge of historicity of the picture becomes all the more present if you pick a theme like this; what's dead, what's living what have you done, what... and also how do you rescue it from the enormous pressure of the cliché because this seems like the most clichéed subject matter you could possibly(..) come to; it's bankrupt, it's obsolete, it's clichéed, it's sentimentalized, it's kind of empty romanticism. All these things kind of become challenges for re-investigation.

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