Audio

Marcel Broodthaers. Interview with the Cat

This work by Broodthaers is very relevant. Any clever, poignant or pressing questions about the nature of art today and artistic practice can be resolved with just one miaow.

Broodthaers had a keen feeling for that time when any serious or philosophical enquiry is doomed to fail. Questions might still get asked, but getting answers is not so easy. And artists are not necessarily meant to look for answers. Perhaps communication is still possible, but at a level that the human ear cannot register. However, we have the magical opportunity to put on headphones and hear the voice of Marcel Broodthaers himself. 


 

Marcel Broodthaers: Is that one a good painting?…Does it correspond to what you expect from that very recent transformation which goes from Conceptual Art to this new version of a kind of figuration, as one might say?

Cat: Miaow.

MB: Do you think so?

Cat: Miiaaow..mm..miaow..miaow.

MB: And yet this colour is very clearly redolent of the painting that was being done in the period of abstract art, isn’t it?
Cat: Miaaow..miaaow..miiaow..miaow.

MB: Are you sure it’s not a new form of academicism?
Cat: Miaow.

MB: Yes, but if it’s a daring innovation it’s still a contestable one.
Cat: Miaow.

MB: It’s still…
Cat: Miaow.

MB: Er…It’s still a matter of markets…

Cat: Miaaow.

MB: What will the people who bought the previous things do?

Cat: Miaow.

MB: Will they sell them?

Cat: Miiaow..mia.

MB: Or will they continue? What do you think?…Because, at the moment, a lot of artists are wondering about that.

Cat: Miaaow..miaow..

MB: In that case close the Museums!

Cat: MIAOW!

 

MB: This is a pipe.

Cat: Miaow.

MB: This is not a pipe.

Cat: Miaow...

MB: This is not a pipe

Cat: Miaow.

MB:  This is a pipe

Cat: Miaow.

MB:  Pipe is not

Cat: Miaow.

 

MB: This is a pipe.

Cat: Miaow.

MBThis is not a pipe.

Cat: Miaow.

 

МБ: This interview was recorded at the Museum of Modern Art,  Department of Eagles, Burgplatz 12, Dusseldorf.

Cat: MIAOW!

 

Interview with a Cat, 1970
Audio file, 4’ 59”

Marcel Broodthaers. Poetry 1961—1968

LE RHINOCÉROS

avec la brusquerie d’un dentiste qui attaque le mal

des impressions d’enfance. Il charge le vent

à sa racine. Il fait l’ombre. Mangeur d’étoiles.

THE RHINOCEROS

A moody beast, he charges at birds, at most of

as abruptly as a dentist attacks the pain our childhood

impressions. He charges at the wind as abruptly at its root.

He makes the darkness. Eater of stars.


UN JEU

Il rugit le rayé.

Il avait prévenu l’autre du danger.

Il l’aurait mal dit, expressément, sans doute.

Des rayures dévorent des rayures.

Il y a une vitesse de fuite dans ces animaux qui les fait

se confondre avec les objets inanimés. Je pense à une

cravate alternant le noir et le blanc, à ces tableaux de

mouvement si proches et si lointains à la fois.

Zèbre-Tigre-Photo

A GAME

He roars his stripiness.
He had warned the other of the danger.
He probably put it badly, on purpose, no doubt.
Stripes devour stripes.
There’s a swiftness in flight in these animals
that means they get confused with inanimate objects. I think
of a tie alternately black and white, of those pictures of
movement that are both so near and so far.
Zebra – Tiger – Photograph


LES ZÈBRES

Les bons sont blancs. Les mauvais sont noirs.
Moi, je suis rayé sans espoir; (de blanc
Là où le noir servait et de noir où le blanc…)
Seul, dans la course vers le pouvoir suprême,
Je retrouve mes frères égauх.

La troupe est grise.

ZEBRAS

The good ones are white. The bad ones are black.
Me, I’m striped without hope; (white
where black was and black where white…)
Alone, in the race toward supreme power,
I find my brothers, my likness.

The herd is grey.

 

M. B. 1961


MA RHÉTORIQUE

Moi Je dis Je Moi Je dis Je
Le Roi des Moules Moi tu dis Tu
Je tautologue. Je conserve. Je sociologue.
Je manifeste manifestement. Au niveau de
mer des moules, j’ai perdu.
Je dis je, le Roi des Moules, la parole
des Moules.

 

MY RHETORIC

 

Me I say I Me I say I
The King of Mussels Me you say You
I tautologize. I curate. I sociologize.
I manifestly manifest. At the
sea of mussels level, I have lost.
I say I, the King of Mussels, the language
of Mussels.


LA MOULE

Cette roublarde a évité le moule de société.
Elle s’est coulée dans le sien propre.
D’autres, ressemblantes, partagent avec elle l’anti mer.
Elle est parfaite.

THE MUSSEL

This clever thing has avoided society’s mould.
She’s cast herself in her very own.
Others, lookalikes, share with her the anti-sea.
She is perfect.


LES NUAGES

Est-ce vrai que le môle et le baluste maculé
nagent dans la lune? Je ne sais pas, je ne sais pas.
On dit qu’il n’y a aucune ressemblance là-bas.
Ce serait différent.

THE CLOUDS

Is it true that the noonfish and the spotted
triggerfish swim in the moon? I don’t know, I don’t
know. They say there’s no resemblance there. It’s
probably different.

 M. B. 1961


La formule du poisson est féroce,

 c’est un cube, une boule, une pyramide

 ou un cylindre obéissant aux lois de la mer.

 Un cube bleu. Une boule rouge. Une

 pyramide blanche. Un cylindre blanc.

 

 Ne bougeons plus. Silence. L’espèce

 dilate et fait mouvement.

 

 Un cube vert. Une boule bleue. Une pyramide blanche.

 Un cylindre noir.

 

 Comme les rêves dont on ne se souvient pas.

 Ils nagent ailleurs dans un monde ou Requin,

 Couteau, Cuisinier sont des synonymes.

 

 Un cube blanc. Une boule blanche. Une pyramide blanche.

 Un cylindre blanc.

 

 

 The format for a fish is savage,
it’s a cube, a ball, a pyramid
or a cylinder that obeys the laws of the sea.
A blue cube. A red ball. A
white pyramid. A white cylinder

Let’s not move any more. The species
dilates and advances.

A green cube. A blue ball. A white pyramid.
A black cylinder.

Like she dreams we don’t remember.
They swim in a world where Shark,

Knife and Cook are synonyms.

A white cube. A white ball. A white pyramid.
A white cylinder.

M. B. 1968


Enfin,

Qu’est-ce que la

peinture? Eh bien

c’est la littérature —

Qu’est-ce que la littérature alors?

Eh bien c’est la peinture

 

Eh bien alors — alors c’est bien

Mais qu’est-ce que le reste?

Ce qui reste — c’est une réforme de la lune

Quand elle est pleine, et que les cons y croient

Quand elle n’est qu’un mince croissant et soulève

des sentiments

Quand est la nuit noire théorique.

 

 

 

In a word,

What is painting?
Well, it’s literature –
What’s literature, then?

Well, it’s painting

 
Ah, well – all’s well, then
But what does that leave?
What’s left – is a reform of the moon
When it’s full and fools believe in it
When it’s only a slender crescent and arouses feelings In the black night of theory.

M.B. 1966

Marcel Broodthaers. A Biography

Marcel Broodthaers lived in poverty for twenty years as a bohemian poet in Brussels. With no artistic training he turned to visual arts in 1964 as an ironic gesture, with an exhibition at the Galerie Saint-Laurent in Brussels. He launched himself caustically into the art market with a brief text printed on the invitation:

“I too wondered if I could not sell something and succeed in life… Finally the idea of inventing something insincere crossed my mind and I set to work straightaway.” In the eleven years that remained to him he established himself, in more than seventy one-man exhibitions, as an artist of considerable influence in terms not of style or sensibility but of attitude and approach.

Broodthaers regarded his art as a defence of European high cultural tradition in the face of barbarian threats and especially of Western commercialism. His strategy allowed him to appropriate techniques and media from nouveau réalism, pop art, conceptual art, and performance art so as to subvert them to his own aims; he emphasized the craftsmanship of his art, but without any trace of academic technique or dexterity, as his work was often executed by others. At its most personal his work employed techniques associated with poetry, applied by him not only to words but to images and symbols, with a particular emphasis on irony, metonymy, tautology, and synecdoche.

Broodthaers associated with others artists, including Magritte and Piero Manzoni, before he became an artist himself and he adapted from their work particular devices and improbable conjunction of images. In Magritte’s Curse, for example, he conjoined and printed images of a clouded blue sky. He expressed his resistance to American pop art in sculptures such as Casserole and Closed Mussels (1965, Tate, London), assembled from found materials such as eggshells, mussels, and European household goods that spoke of simplicity and poverty in the face of big business, banality, and mass production. From his first exhibition he conceived of the temporary installation as a medium in itself, involving not only the objects and their display but the catalogue, titles of works, and the private view as an event. From 1966 he began to use film (a medium that he had used in the 1950s) and photography as an integral part of installations, which presaged later developments in conceptual art. He went on to create his own peripatetic imaginary museum, which he inaugurated in his Brussels apartment-studio in 1969 as the Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles, 19th-Century Section and to which he continued to add ironically titled sections.

Broodthaers spent his last years in Germany and England as well as in Brussels, creating during this period a series of exhibitions collectively titled Décors, which were his definitive achievement. These temporary installations included Catalogue (1974, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels), Eloge du sujet (Eulogy of the Subject, 1974, Kunstmuseum Basel), Invitation pour une exposition bourgeoise (Invitation to a Bourgeois Exhibition, 1975; Berlin, Nationalgalerie), the Privilege of Art (1975, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford) and L’Angélus de Daumier (1975, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris).

To a greater extent than before, individual works were brought together in different combinations according to the “laws” of personal syntax and poetics involving the transportation of media as well as of objects: paintings with printed inscriptions such as Painting (1973, Tate, London), a series of nine stretched canvases bearing descriptive phrases concerning various English-speaking writers; reproductions of paintings as photographs such as Mademoiselle Rivière and Monsieur Bertin (1975, Tate, London), after Ingres; hand-painted prints; films as objects; and objects as films. His work became increasingly complex and technically ambitious in all his chosen media, including paintings, drawings, films, photographs, performances, books, exhibition catalogues, prints, plastic reliefs, sound tapes, slide projections, collages, assemblages, and installations. Broodthaers conceived of his inclusive medium, however, as art and culture in the broadest sense, and it is in this respect that his influence has been most lasting.

Michael Compton

This biography was first published in Marcel Broodthaers (New York: D.A.P., 2013) and is reproduced with the permission of Estate Marcel Broodthaers.

Interviews with Russian artists

Questions and quotes by Marcel Broodthaers with answers by Russian artists


Interview with Viktor Pivovarov

Marcel Broodthaers: The politics of magic or the magic of politics? (from a letter to Joseph Beuys)

Viktor Pivovarov: Statistical data, as used by politicians, is typical magic. On the whole, politics is magic tricks with real consequences, painful both for the magicians and the audience. Magic is present in all human endeavors, though, be it art, love or science. Magic is substitution, ergo lying. One can lie with talent and without. In politics, talented lying is the most dangerous.

M.B. Art and literature… Which of the moon’s faces is hidden? And how many clouds and fleeting visions are there?

V.P. It depends what side of the moon the observer is on. From Russia, literature is the visible side of the moon and visual art the dark side. I don’t how things look from Belgium. As for clouds and apparitions, it seems that lots of them are visible from Belgium: just look at Magritte’s paintings or read some Maeterlinck.

M.B. Is this a good painting? Does it correspond to what you expect from the very recent transformation from conceptual art to this new version of figuration, as one might say? (from an Interview with a Cat)

V.P. From the perspective of a cat, the most conceptual of animals, the question as to whether a painting is good or bad makes no sense.

M.B. What about rediscovering the events of life, of society instead [. . .] in short, reconstructing the vanished reality surrounding your works? From then on they would appear as witnesses to the present and not as poems. (from Imaginary Interview with Rene Magritte)

V.P. There are no events of life and society. All this is fiction. Art does nothing but reconstruct realities that disappeared or have never existed.

M.B. To what extent has information about contemporary art penetrated the consciousness of the public? (from the text “Eagle. Ideology. Audience,” published in The Eagle from the Oligocene to the Present, 1972)

V.P. The public has no awareness or consciousness: there’s nothing for information to penetrate.

Viktor Pivovarov (b. 1937) is an artist and a representative of Soviet unofficial art. He lives and works in Prague. In 1957, he graduated from the Moscow Art and Industrial School and in 1962 from Moscow Polygraphic Institute. Pivovarov is one of the founders of Moscow conceptualism and a well-known illustrator, who produced cult images for fairy tales published in the late Soviet era such as Ole Lukøje and The Black Chicken. He continues to show new works internationally, including in Russia.


Interview with Andrei Monastyrsky

Marcel Broodthaers: The politics of magic or the magic of politics? (from a letter to Joseph Beuys)

Andrei Monastyrsky: The nature of magic is the autonomy of words and numbers, which are transformed through Text into subconscious motivational contexts and powers in all fields of human life. Thus, they can can influence human life, including politics.

M.B. Art and literature… Which of the moon’s faces is hidden? And how many clouds and fleeting visions are there?

A.M. The hidden side of the moon is music. The rest is clouds and fleeting visions.

M.B. Is this a good painting? Does it correspond to what you expect from the very recent transformation from conceptual art to this new version of figuration, as one might say? (from an Interview with a Cat)

A.M. Every idea has as much plasticity and texture as a portrait or still life.

M.B. What about rediscovering the events of life, of society instead [. . .] in short, reconstructing the vanished reality surrounding your works? From then on they would appear as witnesses to the present and not as poems. (from an Imaginary Interview with Rene Magritte)

A.M. All times past are poems.

M.B. To what extent has information about contemporary art penetrated the consciousness of the public? (from the text “Eagle. Ideology. Audience,” published in The Eagle from the Oligocene to the Present, 1972)

A.M. About 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001%

Andrei Monastyrsky (b. 1949) makes objects, installations, and performances. He is an art theorist, poet, and the leader of the Moscow conceptual school. He lives and works in Moscow. In 1980, he graduated from the Languages Faculty of Moscow State University. He is one of the founders of the group Collective Actions (1976), the compiler of thirteen volumes of documentation of the group’s work, Trips Out of Town, and the Moscow Archive of New Art (MANI) folders. Together with Vadim Zakharov and Yuri Leiderman, he was member of the art groups Kapiton (2008–2010) and Corbusier (2009–2010). Monastyrsky has been awarded the Andrei Bely Prize (2003) for services to the development of literature and the Innovation Prize in the category Theory, Criticism, Art Studies (2009). In 2007, his work was shown in the main project at the 52nd Venice Biennale and at Documenta 12 in Kassel. In 2011, he participated in the exhibition Empty Zones: Andrei Monastyrsky and Collective Actions in the Russian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale.


Interview with Igor Makarevich and Elena Elagina

Marcel Broodthaers: The politics of magic or the magic of politics? (from a letter to Joseph Beuys)

Igor Makarevich, Elena Elagina: The letter’s addressee is a great example of how the politics of magic can be realized. As for us, we live in a space dominated by the magic of politics.

M.B. Art and literature… Which of the moon’s faces is hidden? And how many clouds and fleeting visions are there?

I.M., E.E. The other side of the moon is the one that matters, precisely because it gives rise to clouds and apparitions.

M.B. Is this a good painting? Does it correspond to what you expect from the very recent transformation from conceptual art to this new version of figuration, as one might say? (from an Interview with a Cat)

I.M., E.E. A figurative painting is almost by definition a good painting. A semblance of reality is needed to provide conceptual art with material for transformation.

M.B. What about rediscovering the events of life, of society instead [. . .] in short, reconstructing the vanished reality surrounding your works? From then on they would appear as witnesses to the present and not as poems. (from an Imaginary Interview with Rene Magritte)

I.M., E.E. The events of life and society belong in the domain of reconstruction. Just add “signs of the times,” and you easily arrive at so-called “poems.”

M.B. To what extent has information about contemporary art penetrated the consciousness of the public? (from the text “Eagle. Ideology. Audience,” published in The Eagle from the Oligocene to the Present, 1972)

I.M., E.E. The public is deeply aware of contemporary art. Since the late nineteenth century it has been fighting bitterly against this information, and now it’s enjoying its results. They turned out to be so pleasant and light!

Igor Makarevich (b. 1943) makes paintings, drawings, objects, installations, performances, and photographs and is a leading artist of the Moscow conceptual school. He lives and works in Moscow. He was born in the village of Trialeti in Georgia and in 1951 moved to Moscow with his parents. He graduated from Moscow Secondary Art School in 1962 and from the Art Faculty of the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in 1968. He worked as an artist for theater and TV and as a book illustrator. Since 1979 he has been a member of the group Collective Actions. Since 1990 he has worked together with his wife, Elena Elagina. In 2009, his work was included in the main exhibition at the 53rd Venice Biennale and in 2011 he participated in the exhibition Empty Zones: Andrei Monastyrsky and Collective Actions in the Russian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale.

Elena Elagina (b. 1949) makes objects, installations, and performances and is a leading artist of the Moscow conceptual school. She lives and works in Moscow. She graduated from Moscow Secondary Art School in 1967 and from the Languages Faculty of Orekhovo-Zuevo State Pedagogical Institute in 1975. While at university she studied sculpture with Ernst Neizvestny and painting with Alisa Poret. She joined the Avant-Garde Club in 1978 and Collective Actions in 1979. Since 1990 she has worked together with her husband, Igor Makarevich. In 2009, her work was included in the main exhibition at the 53rd Venice Biennale and in 2011 she participated in the exhibition Empty Zones: Andrei Monastyrsky and Collective Actions in the Russian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale.


Interview with Nikita Alexeev

Marcel Broodthaers: The politics of magic or the magic of politics? (from a letter to Joseph Beuys)

Nikita Alexeev: What kind of magic does politics even have? Of course, some people believe that Trump, Putin, or Kim Jong-un are great shamans or magicians who’ll save the world. But not me.

M.B. Art and literature… Which of the moon’s faces is hidden? And how many clouds and fleeting visions are there?

N.A. I’ll answer with a question: who is the more powerful magician, Hitler or Stalin?

M.B. Is this a good painting? Does it correspond to what you expect from the very recent transformation from conceptual art to this new version of figuration, as one might say? (from an Interview with a Cat)

N.A. That’s a question for the moon rabbit. Or a dead rabbit. Or Beuys. Or Broodthaers.

M.B. What about rediscovering the events of life, of society instead [. . .] in short, reconstructing the vanished reality surrounding your works? From then on they would appear as witnesses to the present and not as poems. (from an Imaginary Interview with Rene Magritte)

N.A. To me, reconstructing reality sounds like fun but is impossible. Just ask any archaeologist or paleontologist and they’ll tell you that even the best reconstruction is nothing but an interpretation of questionable facts.

M.B. To what extent has information about contemporary art penetrated the consciousness of the public? (from the text “Eagle. Ideology. Audience,” published in The Eagle from the Oligocene to the Present, 1972)

N.A. I have no idea which information penetrated where and how. But to return to paleontologists: they claim convincingly that eagles existed biologically long before the Oligocene.

Nikita Alexeev (b. 1953) is an artist and journalist. He lives and works in Moscow. From 1964 to 1967, he studied at the Moscow Secondary Art School. From 1968 to 1972, he studied in the Department of Graphic Design and Advertising of Moscow State Art School 1905. From 1973 to 1976, he studied in the Design Faculty of Moscow Polygraphic Institute, but failed to graduate. In 1976, he was one the founders of the group Collective Actions, which he left in 1983. In 1979, he participated in the creation of the Moscow Archive of New Art (MANI). In 1982, Alexeev organized APTART Gallery in his one-room apartment. In 1986, he took part in “simulation music” concerts by the band Mid-Russian Heights. From 1987 to 1993, he lived in France. From 1996 to 2004, he headed the culture section of the Russian weekly iNOSTRANETS. In 2004, he received a scholarship from the Kulturamt der Landeshauptstadt (Dusseldorf) and a grant from the Joseph Brodsky Foundation as a visiting fellow of the American Academy in Rome. He is the author of the books Rows of Memory (2008), Hic Rhodus, hic salta (2011), and In Search of the Broom-Tree (2018).


Interview with Yuri Albert

Marcel Broodthaers: The politics of magic or the magic of politics? (from a letter to Joseph Beuys)

Yuri Albert: I think this question is incorrectly formulated. One cannot work without the other.

M.B. Art and literature… Which of the moon’s faces is hidden? And how many clouds and fleeting visions are there?

Y.A. Same here. One side can’t work without the other, and the answer depends on our perspective. If visual art is our vantage point then literature is the other side, and vice versa. And let’s not forget that the moon, just like the sun, turns around its own axis.

M.B. Is this a good painting? Does it correspond to what you expect from the very recent transformation from conceptual art to this new version of figuration, as one might say? (from an Interview with a Cat)

Y.A. It‘s good precisely in so far as it corresponds to the transformation of conceptual art into a new version of figurative art.

M.B. What about rediscovering the events of life, of society instead [. . .] in short, reconstructing the vanished reality surrounding your works? From then on they would appear as witnesses to the present and not as poems. (from an Imaginary Interview with Rene Magritte)

Y.A. All poems are witnesses of time.

M.B. To what extent has information about contemporary art penetrated the consciousness of the public? (from the text “Eagle. Ideology. Audience,” published in The Eagle from the Oligocene to the Present, 1972)

Y.A. The audience’s consciousness contains as much information about contemporary art as a short city guide.

Yuri Albert (b. 1959) lives and works in Moscow and Cologne. He makes paintings, drawings, objects, installations, and performances and is a leading artist of the Moscow conceptual school. In the early 1980s he was involved with APTART Gallery. Since 2008, he has been a member of the group Cupidon together with Viktor Skersis and Andrei Filippov. Albert has been awarded the Kandinsky Prize for Project of the Year (2011) and the Innovation Prize for Curatorial Project (with Ekaterina Degot, 2013). He is the author of the book What I Have Seen (2011).


Interview with Pavel Pepperstein

Marcel Broodthaers: The politics of magic or the magic of politics? (from a letter to Joseph Beuys)

Pavel Pepperstein: It goes without saying that I prefer the politics of magic. Actually, the politics of magic is the only effective means against the magic of politics.

M.B. Art and literature… Which of the moon’s faces is hidden? And how many clouds and fleeting visions are there?

P.P. Сlouds and fleeting visions are never in short supply, which is actually a good thing. Especially if the visions are not too frightening, and even more so if they are euphoric and beautiful. The situation on our planet is such that literature has become the other side of the moon, it can be identified with what Freud called “the repressed.” It is linked to the fact that literature is always connected to a national language and thus resists globalization by definition, regardless of its content. This is why literature is especially valuable now: it is pure, whereas art is sinful.

M.B. Is this a good painting? Does it correspond to what you expect from the very recent transformation from conceptual art to this new version of figuration, as one might say? (from an Interview with a Cat)

P.P. It’s a great painting!!! I doubt that there are any bad paintings in the world. All paintings are excellent!

M.B. What about rediscovering the events of life, of society instead [. . .] in short, reconstructing the vanished reality surrounding your works? From then on they would appear as witnesses to the present and not as poems. (from an Imaginary Interview with Rene Magritte)

P.P. I’m all for reconstruction. For instance, I really like revivalism in architecture. And you can also reconstruct things that never existed.

M.B. To what extent has information about contemporary art penetrated the consciousness of the public? (from the text “Eagle. Ideology. Audience,” published in The Eagle from the Oligocene to the Present, 1972)

P.P. Relatively deeply, it seems. And I’m not particularly happy about it.

Pavel Pepperstein (b. 1966) makes paintings and drawings and is a writer and art theorist. He lives and works in Moscow. Pepperstein is one of the second wave artists of the Moscow conceptual school. From 1985 to 1987, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. He was a co-founder of Inspection Medical Hermeneutics (1987–2001), along with Sergei Anufriev and Yuri Leiderman. In 2014, he was awarded the Kandinsky Prize. He is the author of the books Mythogenic Love of Castes (two volumes, 1999–2002), Interpreting Dreams (with Sergei Anufriev and Viktor Mazin, 2005), and several volumes of short stories and theoretical writing. In 2009, his work was included in the main project of the 53rd Venice Biennale and in the Russian Pavilion exhibition of the same year, and in 2014 he participated in Manifesta 10 in St. Petersburg.


Interview with Alexandra Sukhareva

Marcel Broodthaers: The politics of magic or the magic of politics? (from a letter to Joseph Beuys)

Alexandra Sukhareva: This question calls to mind two people: Giordano Bruno, who wrote the treatise on magic De Vinculis in Genere (A general account of bonding), which is sometimes compared to Machiavelli’s The Prince; and Mikhail Bakhtin. Bruno was interested in the logic of protecting and retaining connections, and in their role as an impersonal means of creating any possible ideology. Bakhtin was focused on the logic of changing connections. I wonder how Bakhtin would reply to this question if it were posed by Giordano Bruno.

M.B. Art and literature… Which of the moon’s faces is hidden? And how many clouds and fleeting visions are there?

A.S. The following passage from Sergei Lotsmanov’s Phosphenes contains the ghost of an answer: ”In one of his interviews, the French philosopher Railroad gave an original interpretation of his settled way of life. The thinker noted that the modern mobile world is constantly changing due to its nomadic nature. Therefore, by staying in one place the Road is a true traveller.”

M.B. Is this a good painting? Does it correspond to what you expect from the very recent transformation from conceptual art to this new version of figuration, as one might say? (from an Interview with a Cat)

A.S. This question is a stone in the devil’s garden.

M.B. What about rediscovering the events of life, of society instead [. . .] in short, reconstructing the vanished reality surrounding your works? From then on they would appear as witnesses to the present and not as poems. (from an Imaginary Interview with Rene Magritte)

A.S. This print is entitled Postscript. It is a “report” of the creative process itself, of my working dialogue with Evgenia Suslova. I tried to recreate the situation of our final conversation, which was left hanging in the air. Somewhat later, I received a poem from Evgenia, which became for me a symbol of the reality of our cooperation:

My magnetic phantom,
restless and dispersed,
I look toward the spaces
where your name is written.

To remember your body,
inside of which I stood,
I turn in a way,
so that rotation opens the medium. 

We grow a double, layer by layer,
to step back ourselves,
as if from a mistake,
or a knife. 

Time renders clear
that which was opened.

Evgenia Suslova, May 2018

Alexandra Sukhareva, Postscript (2018)

M.B. To what extent has information about contemporary art penetrated the consciousness of the public? (from the text “Eagle. Ideology. Audience,” published in The Eagle from the Oligocene to the Present, 1972)

A.S. It works like a diffused premonition. But only if the object of this premonition ripens into something solid can it penetrate consciousness through the gates of the imagination.

Alexandra Sukhareva (b. 1983) makes objects and installations. She lives and works in Moscow and Dubna, Moscow Region. In 2006, she graduated from the Faculty of Furniture Design of Stroganov Moscow State University of Arts and Industry, and in 2008 from the Institute of Contemporary Art, Moscow. From 2008 to 2010, she studied at Valand Academy in Gothenburg. In 2012, she took part in Documenta 13 in Kassel.


Interview with Evgeny Antufiev

Marcel Broodthaers: The politics of magic or the magic of politics? (from a letter to Joseph Beuys)

Evgeny Antufiev: The politics of magic has a nicer rhythm to it. And rhythm is what matters most in politics. As well as in magic.

M.B. Art and literature… Which of the moon’s faces is hidden? And how many clouds and fleeting visions are there?

E.A. Literature is, by definition, secondary. It can only describe an image (be it visible or invisible). Art, on the other hand, is all-embracing and forms the basis of space and matter. The moon consists of nothing but art, its body has no space left for literature. Thus, all that literature can do is reflect it verbally.

M.B. Is this a good painting? Does it correspond to what you expect from the very recent transformation from conceptual art to this new version of figuration, as one might say? (from an Interview with a Cat)

E.A. “A good painting” is the best compliment for an artist. “A bad painting” is the worst nightmare. Everyone wants to live well, not badly, among good, beautiful paintings. Even better, to be a figure in a good painting. A good painting is always figurative: it contains figures.

M.B. What about rediscovering the events of life, of society instead [. . .] in short, reconstructing the vanished reality surrounding your works? From then on they would appear as witnesses to the present and not as poems. (From an Imaginary Interview with Rene Magritte)

E.A. All art witnesses its time. And the best art witnesses dead time. It’s preferable that the artist is dead, all who are depicted are dead, the first viewers are dead, the landscape has been destroyed, and the mountains have been nibbled by time like cheese by mice. This is the best kind of witnessing, and the best art. Art witnessing that which still exists is untenable.

M.B. To what extent has information about contemporary art penetrated the consciousness of the public? (from the text “Eagle. Ideology. Audience,” published in The Eagle from the Oligocene to the Present, 1972)

E.A. It’s the other way around: the public penetrated the consciousness of contemporary art and is hiding there, a fuzzy night insect, moving its legs and greedy proboscis. That’s good, the way a beautiful painting is good. Although art deteriorates from being viewed. Art has a resource of wear and tear. The more information there is about art, the longer it needs to build up new resources. It recovers best in a dark tomb: no eyes, no light. But this is just a dream. Information and the public eye now penetrate everything, like radiation.

Evgeny Antufiev (b. 1986) is a contemporary Russian artist and curator. He lives and works in Kyzyl and Moscow. In 2009, he graduated from the Institute of Contemporary Art in Moscow. From 2012 to 2017, he ran the grants program for emerging Russian artists at Garage. In 2009, he was awarded the Kandinsky Prize in the category Young Artist: Project of the Year. He participated in the Baltic Triennial (Vilnius, 2018) and Manifesta 11 (Zurich, 2016).

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