Many art publications have been putting out “year-end best-of” lists. (That is all this month’s artforum is.) I don’t care about “ranking” art shows, being more interested in people than things. I’ve been lucky enough to have some fantastic conversations in 2013, so I’ve pulled together eight things artists have said to me over the past year that I still think about, in chronological order:
Barbara Hammer on “Bodily Abstraction”: If there is no literal representation by the word of a thing or a time (past tense, future tense), by the image (layered, color fields, soft outlines), the physical reading of the word, the image is more stimulating to the mind, which is, of course, part of the body. The entire body then is involved in the “reading” and with the total body involvement touch is brought into play.
Richard Tuttle on “Art having Teeth”: One of the images that I use is that when an artist makes an artwork it has teeth that can bite you—it’s intended to, it’s a wild thing. In the process of things the teeth are removed until it reaches some end thing with no teeth. Now we need to put the teeth back in. Every artwork contains the evidence, source, or origin of those teeth. It’s the conundrum in society that people don’t like to get bitten.
Nayland Blake on “Validation”: I think that there’s a really irritating model where you are supposed to gather up the material of your life and massage it into shape and present it to the art world where supposedly its going to be your calling card to value. To me that is a kind of impoverished and time wasting approach because you already have people in your life that are providing that kind of tribal response and the art world’s version of that is no better or worse.
Paul McCarthy’s advice on “Where to go in Disneyland”: Everybody goes to Pirates of the Caribbean—fantastic! You go down into the grotto, into the subconscious. Then you can go straight to Snow White and then: It’s a Small World After All—fucking weird, it’s hell. The Matterhorn—fantastic, I was obsessed with the Matterhorn. Once I was asked what is my favorite work of art and I said, “The Raft of the Medusa” at the Louvre, and the second one is the Matterhorn at Disneyland. Sometimes they switch order! But Tom Sawyer Island, there is something strange going on there. Be careful.
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge on “Sex”: If sensuality and sexuality are parts of the learning of wisdom, which we believe they have to be, and can be a functional form of the deconstruction and reconstruction of perceptions of reality, then they should be approached as an incredibly divine, potent, and essential aspect of our lives, not something that is just a thrilling moment or taboo. It’s holy work. Sex with someone you love—that is angelic working. It is saying you want to return to a divine state of inclusion, of balance, of no separation.
Jill Magid on “Talking to Whoever You Want”: I think a lot of the reason people guess that I’m writing fiction is they can’t understand why these people talk to me, and it’s basic human nature: I’m not bullshitting them. I’m earnestly interested in them.
Christo on “Not Being Social Practice”: Our projects are not done for the sake of that—that would be theater. I come from a communist country, Marxist educated, and I cannot stand propaganda art. Our project is one of enjoying beauty. We get involved into the ecological, political situations we do because they are already there, and have to be worked with to make the project.
Roni Horn on “The Curse of Being Articulate”: My intention was never to direct what people would say. The fact that people took the position of following rather than questioning or engaging is very frustrating for me. So I wish I had learned to keep my mouth shut a long time ago. On the other hand I enjoy talking, I enjoy language, and that is who I am.
I hope will all have many more fun conversations in 2014!
Merry Christmas Eve!