Siegelaub Chapter 7

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S.R. So I think most of the questions I had you answered already. [...] We found a lot of good and useful material. There's only one thing that I tell all the time at the end: If you want to say something in relation to the film, and in relation to your [...] own history it's the right time now to say it...

S.S. [...] I don't now what to say... Maybe it's time for a joke or something ... I wish I had ...

S.R. ... an artist's joke...

S.S. It doesn't have to be an artists joke. It would be a kind of an existentialist kind of joke. (..) But I think life should be about pleasure in a certain way, and I think my activity in the art world was really exciting for that reason, and when it wasn't becoming exciting, I lost interest. That's it. I don't know ... if there's anything that I should have said that I didn't say ... If you'd said, is there any eternal statement that you would be hammering or chiselling into the wall about the meaning of life or something like this, maybe I would have come up with something that was not too dumb or not too stupid, but just to be presented with sort of a summation of my life or my work here, it's just ... I don't know what to say. Suffice it to say that I was involved with it very actively for about five or six years and I had a great time, that's all I can say. I'm very happy that the artists were able to ... that their work has had such an influence, not just they've been successful, but a lot of the ideas that they put forth were able to multiply and find so many ... into such a variety of production and activities. Everyone has criticised me ... »there were no women involved!» ... or black artists and things like this; and they were right absolutely right, that was certainly a blind spot. There's nothing to be said about it but it's also the historical moment, too; it was also a moment of that kind of re-focus, of a re-thinking of a »white male artist» problem, and it opened up certain kinds of things which probably wouldn't have been made as open as before. But it's absolutely true, there was no women artists ... someone like Christine Kosloff, who was equally as intelligent, who has come to mind as Joseph [...] there is Adrian Piper today and things like that. But I'm speaking of that time [...]. You went to see Joseph, you didn't go to see Christine; Christine would participate in things, but ... That was another fight to be fought, was fought in the early 70s. Now you have a diversity of gender as well as nationality, as well as third world kinds of activities, as well as blacks as well as other kinds of cultural sensibilities which are feeding into the globalization of the art world – both in a very positive sense but also, [...] you really have to have a critical eye on that, too. When you see that on the one hand it is very nice and very important to see a great cultural diversity of people, you also have to wonder about - or at least I wonder about - are they just sort of revivifying a dead capitalist, central European, American experience; they are sort of functioning in a way to revivify, to give life to an art world that white males don't do any more [...]. By taking them into the global art world, there's a dialectic there that really has to be looked at, too. It's very good to be able to see that diversity, but it's also that most of them live in New York, London and Paris ... and you have to think about what exactly all that means. But that kind of cultural diversity we just didn't see when we were active, and that's all, it just wasn't there [...]. But I'm sure, in 20 years from now, there'll be activities of different kinds of people that we can't even think about right now, just in the evolution of history, of different kinds of expression, of different groups [...] It's difficult to say [...]. People in the art world, myself included, are very lucky to be able to ... spend their time doing something that they really like, can control to a large degree. And I think that's, compared to the vast mass of people who are [...] dépassé, completely overwhelmed by their location in the production of material life or intellectual life, basically who do shit jobs for lack of a better word...[...]. In that sense the art world is really very, relatively very lucky to be able to have that kind of creative possibilities, whether you are an artist, a filmmaker, sound or cameraman ... All professions in a certain way can be that creative but the business of anything really makes it much more difficult to be able to ... you really have to [...] very... navigate [...] to be able to analyze your situation, to manouevre without falling into these business, money-making traps; reproducing yourself or just making a – not a mockery, but a cartoon of yourself by repeating yourself. One of the reasons that I left the art world is that certainly I wouldn't want to become Mr. Conceptual Art ... or, oh yes, that's the Conceptual art dealer [...] that sort of explains his life; and to keep these fluid things open which is exactly what , as we started the conversation, I was saying about all those kinds of -isms. You know you could say, well, Serra ... Carl Andre, Morris, Don Judd, they are over here, and then next comes this small group, and they are over there and then next comes another group and they are over there [...] to create a very formalistic – to get back to the criticism of Buchloh's article – a very formalistic, a very linear kind of idea of history, as opposed to the chaos which, of course, it always is. And this moment was part of that; but all moments were. If you go back to painting in 1905 or 1910 in Paris, it would also be a shithouse too, all kinds of activity of people coming and going. And why certain people survive, I'm not so sure it's because they are better than everybody else. I think there's other kinds of factors at play here, some of which are hazard, some of which are malin [...], nasty, some of which are clever ... some of which are, have to do with money, power ... Art history in that sense, I'm very skeptical about it, too ... and because we all live in a particular moment, I think it's important to have a very critical eye about what's going on around you and also your role in it, and to be able to ... not just capitalize out of your own ... self-interest, which we all have, but also to explode or to open up or ... to make more aware, -transparent is a hard word - [...] make obviously experience more transparent so you see the actual operations ... the selection of artists, the power structures, who gets chosen, why certain shows get done, why certain not, why is this... etc. One should have a very critical eye to it, even, and not just even, but especially if you are the one taking advantage of it, one should be as critical as they possibly can. And I think that kind of attitude [...] was very much part of the ethos, the spirit of the time in that we lived. Probably it's today, too. Probably a certain amount of that around, too ... But I think everyone should be as aware of what's going around them as they possibly can, excluding how they fit into the picture – again, not just for self-interest ... but also to be able to open up and make the functioning of the art world, the power structures more clear to people and to themselves. People go into institutions of whatever sort and think: oh because it's shown here it's necessarily good and I should yield to a superior judgement from the museum trustees [...], the kind of histories that are produced [...] That's sort of a summation, it's not a bad summation ...


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