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
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
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
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
IT MUST BE PRESENTED ONLY AS A WORK
THE WORK IN THIS EXHIBITION IS NOT
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?
USING THE DUCHAMPIAN MODEL OF PLACING THINGS OUTSIDE OF THEIR CONTEXT
THAT WE ARE AWARE OF THE CONTEXT OF THINGS
IF WE ARE AWARE OF THE CONTEXT (CORRECT) AND JUST BREAKING THE RULES
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