LAWRENCE WEINER

14 May - 6 July 2005

LAWRENCE WEINER & KRISTINN E HRAFNSSON

 

Conversation for the Reykjavik Arts Festival in 2005

 

… THE MAJOR TOPIC SHOULD REALLY BE THE WORK AT HAND WHICH IS ALL CONCERNED WITH THE

 

OBJECTIFICATION OF DESIRE. THAT THEN CAN BECOME THE PRELUDE AND WITH REFERENCE THE BODY OF

 

OUR INTERVIEW.

 

You named it – let´s work out of the work.

 

First I would like to mention that I was a little bit surprised when I saw your drawings and plans for the exhibition; I know your previous text-works as objectification of materials and situations and had never seen works from you which are concerned with the objectification of feelings. What kind of objectification do you mean by saying that desire can be a sculpture?

 

DESIRE (HAPPINESS) IS NOT NECESSARILY ABOUT FEELING

 

IT IS AN ATTEMPT TO BUILD A MISE EN SCENE TO BRING ABOUT

 

AN AMBIANCE

 

BY REMOVING THE THE AND PLACING AN A

 

THE PURSUIT BECOMES A SPECIFIC OBJECT

 

IT IS A PURSUIT

 

THE MOVEMENT ITSELF BECOMES A SCULPTURAL EMPIRICAL REALITY

 

THE WHY & THE TOWARDS ARE ONLY DESIGNATIONS

 

ASAP ONLY A DESIGNATION OF TIME (ANOTHER SCULPTURAL EMPIRICAL REALITY)

 

If I understand you right, you are saying that A PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS is based on the same idea as before – presenting a reality. Would you say that it has more to do with something like intervention and social participation than before? In my mind this is an encouraging work. Do you agree?

 

ALL ART IS MADE BY PEOPLE FOR OTHER PEOPLE

 

INTERVENTION DOES NOT ENTER INTO THE EQUATION AS ART & ARTISTS PER SE

 

ARE AN INTEGRAL PART OF SOCIETY AS A WHOLE. FINDING & USING A PART OF

 

ICELANDIC CULTURE (INGÓLFUR FLINGING HIS HIGH SEAT PILLARS INTO THE

 

SEA) TO PRESENT THE SCULPTURE IS IN FACT THE SAME AS ANY

 

CONVENTION–ONE OFTEN USES THE MATERIALS FOUND IN/ON A PLACE (E.G.

 

ICELAND SPAR) TO CONSTRUCT SCULPTURE. AM PLEASED THAT YOU FIND THE WORK

 

ENCOURAGING AS THE PURPOSE & FUNCTION OF ART IS EMPOWERMENT

 

This leads us to the art work as a metaphor. Icelanders know very well the saga you are referring to – it is a simple story and it describes a certain kind of recklessness and fatalism – but your use of words refer to time present and time future (ASAP). By using the sea and the natural elements you give the work a historical quotation and the element of repetition. Do we have a work of historical presence or do we have a work of metaphor or allegory?

 

PAINT ON CANVAS—KNIFE IN WOOD—MATERIAL FLUNG & NATURAL FUNCTIONS

 

FOLLOWED

 

THERE IS NO METAPHOR—THERE IS NO ALLEGORY

 

THERE IS A PLACEMENT INTO A CONTEXT OF BUILDING A WORK OF ART (A

 

MATERIAL REALITY) THAT THE CONTEXT OF BUILDING A WORK OF ART IS WITHIN

 

THE HISTORICAL CONSTRUCT OF ICELAND: SO MUCH THE BETTER.

 

What are you going to do with the planks?

 

THE OBJECT (SCULPTURE) IS:     A PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS   ASAP

 

THE PLANKS (BEAMS) ARE THE SAME AS THE BADGES (BUTTONS) OR THE WRITING ON THE WALL OR WINDOW: JUST

 

A MEANS OF PRESENTATION.

 

WHOSOEVER FINDS THE PLANKS CAN HAVE THEM & DO WITH THEM AS THEY PLEASE.

 

Isn´t this a blanc check on the idea that the art object is loaded with some kind of message and therefore a metaphor when “used” by others. I remember a comment from you in an interview saying that the society only uses art as a metaphor.1) You want your sculptures to be treated as some kind of “driftwood” in the society, but you don´t want to deal with the treatment of it. Right?

 

WHEN A WORK OF ART IS NON METAPHORICAL IT ALLOWS THOSE PEOPLE THAT COME

 

UPON IT (THE ART) TO USE IT TOWARDS THEIR OWN NEEDS & DESIRES

 

ERGO: THEY USE IT AS A METAPHOR TO UNDERSTAND THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES IN

 

THE WORLD     NOT MINE

 

This sounds like all your artworks belong to the public and maybe they do in a certain way. I know that you make works that float into the society and live there on their own, just to be used by the beholder and you call it “public freehold”.2) Can you tell me more about that idea?

 

THEY (THE ARTWORKS) DO NOT BELONG TO THE PUBLIC

 

THEY BELONG IN THE PUBLIC

 

IF SOMETHING IS WORTH STEALING

 

ITS WORTH BUYING

 

I MAKE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF WORK

 

THAT IS NOT FOR SALE…IT IS PUBLIC

 

FREEHOLD —– THESE WORKS MAY BE USED

 

BY THOSE WHO CANNOT AFFORD A WORK

 

OF MINE WITHOUT HAVING TO STEAL (APPROPRIATE)

 

THE ONLY CONDITION IS THE ATTRIBUTION  —–

 

WITHOUT MY EXPRESS PERMISSION MY NAME

 

CANNOT BE USED WITH OR ATTACHED TO THE

WORK

 

IT MUST BE PRESENTED ONLY AS A WORK

OF ART.

 

THE WORK IN THIS EXHIBITION IS NOT

 

PUBLIC FREEHOLD

 

IT IS ONE THING TO KNOW ABOUT A WORK

 

& ANOTHER THING TO OWN A WORK.

 

This sounds fair to me – but also generous in the sense that art as public freehold can function as empowerment, as you mentioned before.

 

Last night I watched TAXI DRIVER by Scorsese and one character in the film said: “… This is America, free country. We got a pursuit of happiness thing. …” Then I thought this sentence could express a very American aspect with some deep roots in the society and began wondering if your sculpture was some kind of quotation from the Declaration of Independence – is it Thomas Jefferson in context with Iceland? Is the material in the sculpture from both sides (Iceland & America / Ingólfur & Jefferson)?

 

STICKS & STONES USED TO MAKE A HOVEL

 

A HOVEL USED TO  MAKE A PLACE

 

SET ASIDE FROM OTHER PLACES

 

A SPACE SET ASIDE FROM OTHER PLACES

 

USED TO PRODUCE AN AMBIENCE

 

NOW IT SOUNDS TO ME THAT THE MATERIAL OF THE SCULPTURE

 

IS THE MATERIAL OF THE WORLD WE INHABIT

 

NOT A HISTORICAL REFERENCE

 

WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED FROM EITHER JEFFERSON

 

OR INGÓLFUR HELPS TO BROADEN THE PARAMETERS OF WHAT WE MAY ASPIRE TO

 

WITH THE AMBIENCE PRODUCED

 

BY THE SCULPTURE

 

You mentioned places and that places are set aside from other places. That´s how artworks are made too. Therefore places can be created in different ways. You oppose to the Duchampian way – by changing the context of materials.3) Why is that not as good or effective way as any other to create a new place or work of art? Is it the metaphor trap again?

 

DEAREST KRISTINN

 

USING THE DUCHAMPIAN MODEL OF PLACING THINGS OUTSIDE OF  THEIR CONTEXT

 

DOES IMPLY

 

THAT WE ARE AWARE OF THE CONTEXT OF THINGS

 

IF WE ARE AWARE OF THE CONTEXT (CORRECT) AND JUST BREAKING THE RULES

 

CONSTITUTES ART

 

WE HAVEN’T DONE MUCH HAVE WE

 

IF WE CAN REASSEMBLE AND FIND USE FOR ANY MATERIAL IT WILL DETERMINE

 

AND INVENT ITS OWN CONTEXT

 

AND I DO BELIEVE THE QUOTE IS THE METAPHOR PROBLEM AGAIN

 

FROM A SMALL BOOK THAT JOHN BALDESSARI AND I MADE IN SWITZERLAND

 

I have to quote you to answer: ART IS NOT A GAME – IT HAS NO RULES. That´s what I was thinking – everything can be used and everything is a material for artistic purpose and who is going to set the rules? Either you accept the work or you don´t accept it. (Duchamp was playing a game by rules).

 

As we are running out of time I want to come back to the exhibition in i8. The installation of the work is esthetically interesting in the way you construct the work (curves, curved boxes and straight lines on the walls and windows – not to mention the planks) and how you mix the lines into the text. Does this have any special meaning or are you making drawings out of the sculpture?

 

THE WORK UTILIZES LINES, STROKES ETC IN ITS COMPOSITION & PRESENTATION.

 

EACH STROKE    EACH LINE    HAS A MEANING. OFTEN BEFORE IT IS UTILIZED

 

IN THE CONTEXT OF ART IT DOES NOT HAVE A NAME  BUT IT HAS A MEANING.

 

THAT MEANING BECOMES OBVIOUS WITH THE USE OF THE WORK.

 

1) IF THE SHOE FITS, WEAR IT   A CONVERSATION WITH EDWARD LEFFINGWELL, 1990

 

&  INTERVIEW BY DIETER SCHWARTZ, 1989,

 

2) INTERVIEW BY ANN TEMKIN AND JOHN RAVENAL,1994

 

&  EARLY WORK  INTERVIEW BY LYNN GUMPERT,1982

 

3) EARLY WORK  INTERVIEW BY LYNN GUMPERT,1982

 

REFERENCE: HAVING BEEN SAID, WRITINGS & INTERVEWS OF LAWRENCE WEINER 1968-2003

HATJE CANTZ PUBLISHERS, 2004

 

April 2005