Werken in archieven. De MTL-case
Transcription of the first day of the congress, 1 July 1973, Ter Kameren/La Cambre, Brussels
In dit nummer van De Witte Raaf presenteren we een aantal onderzoeken in diverse archieven, zowel binnen- als buitenlandse, zowel private als publieke. De gemeenschappelijke noemer van deze onderzoeken is de Brusselse galerie MTL. Het programma van MTL, het geesteskind van kunstenaar, kunstcriticus en -theoreticus, galerist en kunstpromotor Fernand Spillemaeckers, stond voornamelijk in het teken van wat nu bekendstaat als ‘conceptuele kunst’. De galerie ging van start op 13 maart 1970 in de Armand Campenhoutstraat 48 met MTL-DTH, een tentoonstelling van Marcel Broodthaers. De laatste activiteiten van MTL vonden plaats in de Oudergemlaan 297 waar op 21 september 1978 een expo van Ed Ruscha van start ging. De galerie was toen reeds enige tijd overgenomen door Gilbert Goos. Fernand Spillemaeckers overleed op 12 juni 1978.
Het congres van Brussel (1-3 juli 1973)
Op 1, 2 en 3 juli 1973 organiseerden drie galeristen – Anny De Decker van de Wide White Space Gallery, Fernand Spillemaeckers van MTL en Paul Maenz van de galerie die zijn naam droeg – het congres van Brussel in de kunstacademie van Ter Kameren/La Cambre. Ze kregen daarbij de medewerking van een vierde galerist, Marc Poirier dit Caulier van de X-one Gallery, die als secretaris optrad. Het thema van het congres was de kunst en haar culturele context.
De Wide White Space Gallery was gevestigd in Antwerpen, evenals de X-one Gallery; de galerie van Paul Maenz bevond zich in Keulen, MTL in Brussel. Wat drie van de vier galeries gemeen hadden, was dat ze vanaf het voorjaar van 1973 naast hun hoofdzetel ook een dependance uitbaatten, en wel in dezelfde buurt: in de winkelgalerie Le Bailli aan de Louïzalaan in Brussel.  MTL baatte dus twee galeries uit in Brussel, één aan de Guldensporenlaan, vlakbij de vijvers van Elsene, en één in Le Bailli aan de Louïzalaan. MTL zou deze tweede Brusselse vestiging echter al snel opgeven, namelijk in mei 1973, en samen met de legendarische Amsterdamse galerie Art & Project een tweede dependance openen in Antwerpen.  Dat gebeurde in september 1973, met een tentoonstelling van Jan Dibbets.
Aan de kunstenaars die min of meer vast verbonden waren aan de vier galeries – 46 kunstenaars in totaal – werd op 7 april 1973 een uitnodiging voor het driedaagse congres gestuurd. Het initiatief tot het congres moet snel tot stand zijn gekomen. In de bewaard gebleven correspondentie van Fernand Spillemaeckers, Marc Poirier dit Caulier en Paul Maenz is immers vóór de datum van 7 april 1973 geen enkel spoor van de manifestatie te vinden. Voordat de formele uitnodiging werd verstuurd, was er met andere woorden geen correspondentie over het congres, niet tussen de initiatiefnemers en al evenmin tussen de galeristen en de met hen in verbinding staande kunstenaars.
De formulering van de uitnodiging droeg onmiskenbaar de handtekening van Fernand Spillemaeckers, de drijvende kracht achter MTL, zoals blijkt uit de inleidende passage: ‘This is an attempt to stimulate an exchange of ideas between art and its cultural context. We are gathering ‘documents’ which could serve as a basis for discussion (a congress) between a) propositions within the art system with theoretical/analytical implications; b) related propositions from various fields such as logics, politics, semiotics,…’. Eerder, in 1970, nog voor Spillemaeckers met MTL was begonnen, had hij een manifestatie opgezet waaruit zijn belangstelling voor Franse filosofie, en met name de semiotiek van onder anderen Roland Barthes, het structuralisme van filosofen zoals Jacques Derrida en Michel Foucault en het marxisme van Etienne Balibar en Louis Althusser nadrukkelijk merkbaar was.  Met een verwijzing naar semiotiek en marxisme in de uitnodiging voor het congres zette Spillemaeckers zijn intellectuele handtekening onder de uitnodiging. Hij was het brein achter het ‘congres’ van ter Kameren, waarvoor hij trouwens ook de credits heeft gekregen naar aanleiding van de enige publicatie van een deel van de transcriptie van het congres. Die transcriptie kan worden teruggevonden in de verzamelde geschriften van Lawrence Weiner. We lezen er: ‘The three day meeting was organized by Fernand Spillemaeckers, head of the Brussels gallery MTL, in cooperation with the galeries Paul Maenz and Wide White Space, both of which had branches in Brussels at the time.’ 
De organisatoren wilden evenwel niet enkel kunstenaars bij elkaar brengen. Ze hadden de intentie om de kunstenaars in contact te brengen met wetenschappers. In een brief aan Hans Haacke vertolkte Paul Maenz de doelstelling als volgt: ‘Wir wollen versuchen, einen Gedankenaustausch zwischen Künstlern (hoffentlich machen nicht alle mit, die wir aus Gründen der Fairness angeschrieben haben; Gut wären ca. 10 Leute, damit wir nicht beim ersten Versuch ersaufen) und klugen Köpfen ausserhalb der Kunstgemeinde in Gang zu bringen, sofern (z.B. wissenschaftliche) Wissens- und Forschungsgebiete bestehen.’  Opmerkelijk is dat Maenz aangeeft dat hij hoopt dat slechts 10 kunstenaars aan het debat zullen deelnemen (terwijl meer dan een viervoud was uitgenodigd). In dezelfde brief stelt Maenz in dat verband: ‘Da keinerlei Budget vorhanden ist, werden diejenigen, die nicht wirklich sachlich echt interessiert sind, hoffentlich sowieso wegfallen.’
Om de discussie te voeden werden de kunstenaars gevraagd om teksten in te leveren zodat de wetenschappers zich konden voorbereiden op de discussie. Samen met het congres was ook een tentoonstelling gepland, opnieuw met als oogmerk om de wetenschappers verder te informeren. Enkel in het boek met de verzamelde geschriften van Lawrence Weiner vallen enkele namen van de ‘wetenschappers’ die men met de kunstenaars wilde confronteren: Leo Apostel, Jürgen Habermas, Jean-François Lyotard en Ernest Mandel, allemaal filosofen dus. Uiteindelijk raakte de brochure met de teksten van de genodigde kunstenaars niet voltooid, kwam de tentoonstelling niet van de grond, tenminste niet tijdens het congres, en verschenen de ‘wetenschappers’ of ‘filosofen’ niet op het appel. De reden voor hun afwezigheid is tot dusverre niet opgehelderd. Ook de locatie wijzigde op het allerlaatste moment. In de uitnodiging van 7 april was sprake van Deurle, zonder dat een specifiek adres werd genoemd. Ook in de oproep op 30 mei 1973 werd nog steeds verwezen naar een ‘exchange’ in Deurle. Pas op 14 juni 1973 werd aan de deelnemers gemeld dat het congres in de abdij van Ter Kameren zou plaatsvinden.
De lijst van de uitgenodigde kunstenaars is indrukwekkend, een weerspiegeling van het programma van de vier galeries, dat dus ook gerust imposant mag worden genoemd. Zowel John Baldessari als Giuseppe Penone figureren op de lijst, zowel Robert Filliou als On Kawara, zowel Hans-Peter Feldmann als Robert Ryman.  De vier genoemde galeries – Wide White Space Gallery, MTL, Paul Maenz en X-one Gallery – vertegenwoordigden haast alle protagonisten van wat nu bekendstaat als conceptuele kunst, arte povera en Fluxus.
De kunstenaars werden gevraagd om documenten in te sturen en aanwezig te zijn op het driedaagse congres. Eind mei 1973 hadden al 27 kunstenaars positief gereageerd. Midden juni hadden reeds 25 kunstenaars documenten ingestuurd. Op het congres zelf tekende een tiental van de geïnviteerde kunstenaars present: de Amerikanen Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt en Lawrence Weiner, de Britten Philip Pilkington en David Rushton van Art & Language, de Belg Marcel Broodthaers, de in Frankrijk woonachtige kunstenaars Daniel Buren, André Cadere en Niele Toroni en de Duitse kunstenaars Hans Haacke en Bernd Lohaus. Drie dagen, meerdere uren per dag, hebben deze kunstenaars met elkaar gediscussieerd.
Tijdens de eerste dag kwamen Carl Andre, Hans Haacke, Philip Pilkington, David Rushton en Lawrence Weiner aan het woord. Een andere opmerkelijk panellid was Albert Schuf, de directeur van de bibliotheek van het Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Keulen. De discussie is behoorlijk pittig. Dat geldt met name voor de steeds weer terugkerende vraag van Lawrence Weiner aan Philip Pilkington en David Rushton van Art & Language: of zij voor hun theoretische inzichten een plaats zien in de wereld van de kunst: ‘will you place this in an art context, for viewing’, vraagt Weiner. En nauwelijk enkele minuten later verbindt hij aan een eventueel positief antwoord vanwege Art & Language de volgende evaluatie: ‘And don’t you find yourself then presenting this research in an art context and placing this object which then is documentation of the work of two people or three people in a group, which makes it no different than the documentation of the traces of a masturbator or body artist, or something, who present their traces on the wall or in a book form, that here on this day I worked out a very complicated way of masturbating instead of masturbating with your genitals.’ Het congres was duidelijk geen avondwandeling. Er werden spijkers met koppen geslagen. De gehele tijd praatten de sprekers ofwel naast elkaar ofwel tégen elkaar: er was veel verwarring, maar ook oprechte dissensus. Het is heerlijk om dat onbegrip of die tegenstellingen van het blad te kunnen lezen. In Ter Kameren was er geen plaats voor academische prietpraat, verstikkende eenstemmigheid, maar voor echt wanbegrip en regelrechte animositeit.
Fernand Spillemaeckers zelf haalde de volgende herinnering aan het congres op: ‘What was said on the last day of the congress, between Jean Claude Garot on one side and Carl Andre, Marcel Broodthaers and Lawrence Weiner on the other, was an unexpected description of the way their work functions and of the cultural situation in which it functions. If printed, it may help to change the situation.’ 
Zowel de tentoonstelling die een week na het congres opende in Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens te Deurle, als het boek met de door de kunstenaars ingezonden teksten dat in de zomer van 1973 het licht zag, zijn het voorwerp geweest van een lange en bittere polemiek, waarop we op een later moment uitgebreid zullen terugkomen. 
Achtendertig jaar na de feiten presenteert De Witte Raaf een transcriptie van de eerste sessie op de eerste dag van het congres van Brussel. Deze exclusieve publicatie was enkel mogelijk met de medewerking van Lili Dujourie, Anny De Decker, Gerd de Vries en Paul Maenz, die we hierbij hartelijk willen danken. Onze dank gaat ook uit naar Jason Poirier dit Caulier en Faby Bierhoff.
1 Galerie MTL opende in 1972 een dependance in de winkelgalerie Le Bailli, waar op dat moment reeds Galerie d gevestigd was. Paul Maenz opende zijn dependance in februari 1973, gevolgd door de Wide White Space Gallery in april 1973.
2 Reeds begin 1973 hadden MTL en Art & Project een eerste samenwerking op poten gezet: beide galeries wisselden twee tentoonstellingen met telkens vier Italiaanse kunstenaars uit. De acht Italiaanse kunstenaars waren: Giovanni Anselmo, Giulio Paolini, Giuseppe Penone, Salvo, Alighiero e Boetti, Gino de Dominicis, Mario Merz en Gilberto Zorio.
3 Referentie voor een marxistisch formalisme, samengesteld door Fernand Spillemaeckers, vond plaats op 10 januari 1970 in Celbeton in Dendermonde.
4 Gerti Fietzek & Gregor Stemmrich (red.), Having Been Said: Writings and Interviews of Lawrence Weiner 1968-2003, Ostfildern-Ruit, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2004, p. 57.
5 Brief van Paul Maenz aan Hans Haacke, d.d. 24 april 1973 (Getty Archive).
6 De uitnodiging was gericht aan: Carl Andre, Terry Atkinson, David Askevold, David Bainbridge, John Baldessari, Michael Baldwin, Robert Barry, Joseph Beuys, Marcel Broodthaers, Stanley Brouwn, Daniel Buren, Victor Burgin, Ian Burn, James Lee Byars, Hanne Darboven, Jan Dibbets, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Robert Filliou, Dan Graham, Hans Haacke, Douglas Huebler, Harold Hurrell, Will Insley, On Kawara, Joseph Kosuth, David Lamelas, Sol LeWitt, Bernd Lohaus, Richard Long, Guy Mees, Panamarenko, Giulio Paolini, A.R. Penck, Giuseppe Penone, Philip Pilkington, Anne & Patrick Poirier, Mel Ramsden, David Rushton, Robert Ryman, Salvo, Niele Toroni, Ger van Elk, Philip Van Snick, Lawrence Weiner en Ian Wilson. André Cadere ontving deze collectieve uitnodiging niet, maar werd persoonlijk door Fernand Spillemaeckers van Galerie MTL geïnviteerd.
7 Fernand Spillemaeckers, Answer to the ‘Notes’ of Paul Maenz in Flash Art, December 1973, in: Flash Art, nr. 44-45, april 1974, p. 62.
8 Van 18 januari tot 29 februari 2004 liep een tentoonstelling over het congres, de tentoonstelling en de publicatie in het Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Deurle, samengesteld door Edith Doove. Tijdens deze manifestatie kwamen de ‘tapes’ van het congres evenwel niet aan bod.
Transcription of the first day of the congress, 1 July 1973, Ter Kameren/La Cambre, Brussels. Participants: Carl Andre, Hans Haacke, Philip Pilkington, David Rushton, Albert Schug, Lawrence Weiner
?: …Contre l’académie, et pour lutter contre les processus de reproduction. [XXX] C’est pour moi un vif plaisir d’accueillir les artisans des productions les plus avancées de l’art actuel. Je suppose que la plupart d’entre vous connaissent les trois grandes articulations de ce symposium, symposium au cours duquel les artisans de l’art conceptuel confronteront leurs idées, confronteront leurs positions, d’une part, et d’autre part tenteront également de les confronter à celles de certains spécialistes des sciences humaines, et en particulier à celles de Lyotard, que nous entendrons demain. Cet après-midi, qui sera consacré à l’analyse des positions d’ Art & Language, devrait en quelque sorte permettre d’engager le dialogue entre les responsables d’Art & Language et le logicien, notre logicien Apostel. Malheureusemt il doit encore arriver. [XXX] Nous attendons demain Sol Lewitt et Daniel Buren, et après-demain [Georges Buyens?]. Je ne vais pas davantage m’attarder à exposer le programme de ce colloque et je donne la parole à Paul Maenz
Paul Maenz: Yeah, that’s not… I have to speak English because I cannot speak French, but there is not so much to say about this because you all have the information what it is about and why we did it and so, because you have been invited, most of you, I suppose. Anyway, I mean it is interesting to see that we have invited, I don’t know exactly how many what we call outside people, speech scientists, professors and so, the ones who, well, so to speak, produce the knowledge with which a lot of our artists work. Anyway, the result is that we have basically only artists, and people who are interested in what’s going on. So it’s a little bit difficult to – well, we found this is in the first place – it’s very difficult to structure this too much. So what here looks fairly disorganised is in fact the situation, because we cannot structure it too much, we cannot give too many directions, so it’s really a dialogue. And since nothing like this has been done before, at least I think it hasn’t been done before. So it’s fairly open, the form it takes and also the results it takes, and it’s up to you now to ask, to find something which is constructive and interesting, and just go ahead.
Philip Pilkington: Okay. Want me to go ahead? Something that has been puzzling me…
Paul Maenz: Oh yeah, maybe I should present the people, in case you don’t know. To start, Dr. Albert Schug from Museum Wallraf-Richartz in Cologne, Lawrence Weiner, Pilkington and Rushton, are both from Art & Language in England, Hans Haacke and Carl Andre.
Philip Pilkington: Okay. There was something that was puzzling me about this sort of invitation. It said: we are organising a congress with a proposition within the art system, with theoretical and analytical implications and, being related, propositions from various fields, such as logics, politics, and semiotics, I would have thought that… and a propos the introduction to this sort of congress, where the introduction was about the avant-garde, conceptual artists, and so on. I would have thought it would be fairly futile to start talking about artists within analytical sort of structures or logic and so on, but try and think of, in fact, a sort of edifying discourse where…
A member of the audience complains.
Philip Pilkington: You can’t hear then? I don’t think it’s… It’s just a recording. I’ll try and speak up.
Same member of the audience: That’s why you should sit in front.
Female laughter, extraneous noises, chairs being moved, subdued chatter, general rumblings
Philip Pilkington: Well, the real problem that I was sort of thinking about with this letter of introduction sort of thing to this congress, was the fact that there were sort of categories delineated between people who were working with propositions within the art system. There was the idea, in fact, I thought it was sort of implicit with the congress, that there were philosophers, there were logicians and so on, and then there were artists. I thought it would be better that we started off in some way with a nexus point from an edifying discourse of some kind which, in fact, I would have thought was logically prior to any discourse that would take place about art, about logic, about propositional calculi, and so on. That in fact that we could think about some of the work that some of us have been doing over the last few months, which, in fact, sort of tried to get to the point of the foundations, if you like, of things like language, things like what in fact is merely conventionality, such as logic, such as semiotics as it is down here, although I don’t know of any semiotics that is worth talking about. And I would have thought that, in fact, something that occurred quite recently in Art & Language, as an edifying nexus point, was in fact the notion of Søren Kierkegaard, in fact, of the notion of faith. And faith, as it were, as some presupposition of some kind, some existence presupposition of some kind, not the existence presupposition of quantified logics, not of Russell, not of Frege, not of Wittgenstein. But the existence assumption spelled with a k, that is, of the Heidegger eksistence assumption. And think about, as it were, or try to think about, for this congress at least anyway, for the moment, try and think about it in the work as well that we’ve been doing over the last few months, of the pragmatic parameters that may, in some way, articulate what in fact our existence assumptions are – what our dasein is, in Heidegger’s philosophy of ontology, in fact, not being a problem of taxonomy of the categorisation or classification of set theory and so on, and of all the sophistications that have developed over the last fifty years. But in fact some sort of circumspect look at what in fact it is to acknowledge one’s place, one’s time, one’s culture, and so on. Now, I think one of the things we’ve got to, I think, appreciate here, that any sort of questions that are raised about what are the pragmatics, what are the pragmatic parameters that surround me, that I can in some way describe, and so on, are eventually gonna be involved with some dissatisfaction of some kind. That is, the questions are not going to have answers to them. Or, at least they are not, at least, gonna have answers that are in some way exhaustible, to the state of affairs that someone may be asking. So I think it’s rather – I think we’re rather, like, in a situation, all of us here I think, and this not only applies to, sort of, artists working, but to anybody at all who’d care to think about existence assumptions, or ontology, or language, or grammar. And all the, as it were, the points that come together at this nexus point of faith, of the existentialist point of existence. And that is in some way, how can we describe the minute that we are in fact in, and in some way that we are talking about, when we explain anything whatsoever, whether it’s teological explanation, whether it’s simple explanation of the sciences, that we’re in some way involved with something rather like a paradox of some kind. That is, whatever one is involved in, one is always involved with some self-referential problem of: okay, I have this methodology of some kind, however, it is always hoist by its own petard, to some extent; that is, the methodology is reflexive upon the person who is operating the methodology, and sort of a more vicious sort of notion of Bridgman’s operationalism of some kind. You know, I think that one of the ways out of this probable, you know, probable notion of a paradox in this situation is not to sort of think about the rationality assumptions that are implicit in operationalism, or the rationality assumptions that are implicit in any of the positivistic notions of grammar, language, existence, ontology, and so on, but rather to think about it as a very intuitive notion of existence, intuitive notion of articulation, intuitive problems about the non-exhaustibility, intuitive notions about the modalities of one’s pragmatics, and so on. One is involved in, I think, it is rather like saying: okay, I can explain what I am doing now, or something like this, or in some way trying to get hold of the dasein problem, that is, I exist at a certain time, certain place, I have a certain pragmatics of some kind that I operate with, in some way I am dealing with a praxis of some kind, some kind of activity. I think as soon as you start to talk about activity you are then involved with at least some sort of agreement with what people have said about activity; that is, that one does it but one doesn’t necessarily understand fully what that activity may involve. [momentary pause] Now, if we think of things rather like the classical things that in fact this Leo Apostel may know about, about the ordered pairs of language, about things like trying to have set satisfaction; that is, in some way trying to have some rationality from one point in time to another point in time. Or think of rationality in sections, in a Carnathian sense, in some way, is something rather like, I suppose, the identification of one individual through various time slices of some kind. However, I don’t know how we may articulate these [XX] but I think they’d be something rather like that. But the fact that the indexical point that they usually talk about, people like Richard Montague, people who have been dealing with pragmatic presentational languages and so on, they usually talk about a very, very limited, ordered, indexical point, usually related to something like the speaker and the utterance that is, as it were, a part of one’s phenomena of some kind. It appears that there is sort of… things that we can get, I think, from Chomsky and Katz and Postal and their dictionaries and their studies in grammar, plus a lot of other logics, I think, that would run into the dictionaries that Katz and Postal have been trying to construct. Where I think we can, in some way, intuitively, and I suppose I ought to express the point that intuition here is used in a sense in connection with, I think, Kantian intuition, where he deals with… where Kant deals with an aesthetic of some kind, a transcendental aesthetic, where he talks about the possibility of experience. I think in some way we’re talking about the possibility of the ability to express ourselves, the ability to express the situation that we’re in. In that sense I think we’re dealing with intuition. So I think that – to go back to the Montague sort of problems about the pragmatics – I think what we’ve got to deal with, as far as our language is concerned anyway, as far as I’m concerned. I think that we have to in some way order some depth structure of some kind that may be non-exhaustible, that in some ways may be defeasible, or in some way may be non-transcendental, that is, in fact, we are saying something rather like the fact… we’re not trying to revise ideology to an extent, but we are trying to find what in fact may be the possibility, or what in fact may make up the possibility of some transcendental aesthetic or, if you like, some possibility of experience. And if we run through these semantic markers that are in Chomsky and Katz, and so on, where they talk about semantic markers of some kind, it’s very apparent that all the semantic markers that they may put into their grammars and their dictionaries, and the transformations from one fragment of language to another… That in fact the depth that we may, in fact, think about, about a deontic relation of some kind, obligation of some kind, the notion of teleology, that is the notion of purpose of some kind, are completely ignored. They are simply spoken about as a semantic feature of some kind, that is, a simple, if you like, I suppose, meaning postulated, in the Carnathian sense. So I think maybe the edifying point about what I was trying to say, is that the Chomskyan dictionary, in some way, may be able to help us if it is, in fact, developed in some way, or articulated in some way, underlined with a Montague ordered pair of a pragmaticism kind. That is not of the simplistic type of Montague, nor the simplistic type of an ordered pair, or an ordered triple, or whatever, or simply thought-up of a very simple logical function of any kind but of a non-exhaustive function of an end-parameter inducted logic or an end-parameter or end-valued modal logic of some kind. But I think that we may, I think, begin to understand, at least only the difficulties, not only answers to transformations from one state of affairs to another state of affairs, whether they be linguistic, phenomenological, experiential, or whatever.
Philip Pilkington: I hope… Did any of you get that? That’s sort of… the only way I can sort of express it at the moment so that all these problems sort of are coming off the top of the head. I wonder if you also have some questions and I may be able to articulate a bit better.
Philip Pilkington: Do any of you… Do… Is Leo Apostel here, for example?… He’s not here?
Chair: There’s no point. The first to speak to, in your case, would be that what was planned, would be Apostel, so… Does any of you… ?
Philip Pilkington: For example, can I ask a question -do any of you think that you speak, in fact, a language? One language only… French, Walloon, English, German, whatever? Or do you think of yourselves as speaking fragments of language, fragments of grammar?
Member of the audience: But I didn’t understand you. I didn’t understand your English.
laughter from the audience
Philip Pilkington: That’s the problem… that’s the problem. [Audience mumbles and shuffles] It’s phonetic.
murmuring from the audience
Philip Pilkington: I think so, I think so, yeah.
murmuring from the audience
Philip Pilkington: That’s the problem reified.
murmuring from the audience
Carl Andre: I have a question about these matters which this gentleman was discussing. My disadvantage is the fact… is that within the language of this discourse, what he was talking about, I know absolutely nothing. I have not read any of the authors he spoke of, I have not ever studied any of the disciplines he spoke of, I really didn’t understand very much of what he said at all. But I do think I do understand what we may say is the foundation, or his need to analyse things in these terms, because I don’t understand the terms at all, so I cannot really say what he is saying or paraphrase or understand at all. But I wonder if there is not a need to believe that fundamental to reality is language, as fundamental to the reality of art is language, which I think that ultimately is a religious view because that means the universe has been written as a message to be read by some.
Philip Pilkington: I take your point, yeah.
Carl Andre: And this is a view I do not share at all. I think the universe is indifferent to language. Language is an accident in, in…
Philip Pilkington: Yeah.
Carl Andre: And I don’t think… I also don’t believe art is a linguistic system.
Philip Pilkington: Let’s, let’s…
Carl Andre: But that’s…
Philip Pilkington: Yeah, sure, I understand perfectly, and it’s quite a common sort of occurrence in myself to sort of think of that problem. Nevertheless, I think in some way I wasn’t saying that language was, as it were, the logically prior thing that occurs to oneself and, you know, it determines in any way what one’s life is. I think a lot of people have said that in the past, and a lot of influential people, especially in philosophy and in logic, and people who have said this, that, and the other, very categorically about ourselves, especially the positivists in the 1920s, you know the scientists as philosophers, where in fact they say: yes, of course there is a meaning to this sentence. Now, obviously, what I have been trying to say is in fact, that there is, in some way, to use the words of Teresa M Cheng, a linguist who has been sort of working quite recently with the problems of translation, and if you think of the translation of the problems that she deals with from Chinese to English, she says something rather like, well of course the problem of transformation from one language to another is in fact rather like the transformation of culture; in fact it uses up, in some way, the generation of language, the generation of grammar, it uses up the reservoir of one’s experience. Now what one’s sort of asking, I suppose, in a very sort of phenomenological way, is what on earth makes up one’s reservoir of experience? Or, what is the possibility of one’s experience? It’s a sort of a prior sort of problem I think, in many ways, to know what is [interference], what is… [interference], you can get… some [interference], some understanding… and this is why I think it’s an edifying discourse, it may be an edifying discourse to think of these problems, edifying as the only true problem, as the only true solution, in some way. And in some sense you’re right about it being religious. Although it’s non-catholic, it’s non-protestant, it’s in many ways the religion of the existentialists. In fact it’s very sceptical about the society at all being able to exist with a priori and religious notions whatsoever. So the question really is not simply that, let’s say: okay, we’re using language, which is a [XXX] language is the foundation of our world. We’re saying something rather like: okay, let’s take it for granted that Wittgenstein is in some ways rather, you know, rather right – he’s hit the nail on the head, to some extent. Nevertheless, what is language? And all the things that are written in a philosophy of language, always seems to take for granted, in fact, what language may be.
Carl Andre: I think that it’s something beyond that. Language may very well be the foundation of our world but our world is not the foundation of the world.
Lawrence Weiner: That’s it. That, if I may interject, is the whole crux of what you’ve been leading to. One must accept the, I’d almost say, Chomskyan worldview, that there is no ‘I’ without a language to realise the ‘I’. But what you are asking for now is a causeality of faith. In what essence and for what purpose is this causeality of faith and what relation does this faith have to do with art, other than the age-old, time-worn thing of: the artist is somebody who deals with the inner awarenesses of other people? Then you are preaching, if I read you correctly, and I must lead myself away from my esteemed colleague, Mr. Andre, that I am versed in this subject, and if you are leading to that, then you are justifying and asking for totally an expressionist ethic in art. That art therefore is the expression of quote-unquote: a separate class artists, their relationship to the society then, in pragmatic terms, will be above and beyond, almost, in a sense, the old-fashioned idea of the romantic priest-artist, which I must again, you know, if from a Marxist view must, you know, like, counter.
David Rushton: I’ll try and sort-out some historical account of the way that some of these conclusions have been reached. That might answer some of the problems.
Philip Pilkington: Nevertheless, it’s no justification. I mean, in no way are they dialectical conclusions.
Lawrence Weiner: Well, I am not making an accusation. I am merely asking it as an open-ended question.
Philip Pilkington: In a way Dave’s remarks will probably be like an index of our history, if anything else.
Lawrence Weiner: Please.
David Rushton: Well, the point was to do I suppose with Chomsky’s problems with universal grammar. And also, and countering that to some extent, the confrontation with the notion that arises out of, I suppose, originally out of semiology, from Roland Barthes, that the idea of an idiolect… now, when I looked at the prospect of the artist, to some extent being a possessive individual, or being, to some extent private, with respect to his sort of way of approaching things. And what the public got out of that was really the residue of the artist’s activity and there was very little dialogue between the artist and society or culture or whatever, prior to the sort of construction of an idiolect. Now an idiolect consists of, perhaps, something that derives out of, say, a group of individuals who interact, with the potentiality of that interaction being mapped onto a social language or ordinary language, or whatever way you would like to sort of paraphrase that. Now the way that Art & Language started looking at the idea of an idiolect was something that got thrust upon them to some extent. There was a group of people who were working more or less in the same way, who happened to live in the same area, who happened to see and talk to each other more frequently than they talked to other people, who happened to read fairly similar sort of books, whose terminology arose in a similar sort of fashion, and so on. Now, it became fairly secular, to a degree, with respect to, you know, the ongoing norms or modes of behaviour of other people, with respect to something like the art world or ordinary discourse of that world or whatever. Now, out of the notion of the idiolect, the thing is, that if you construct the possibility of an idiolect, then Chomsky’s grammar presumably will have to take account of that. Now either it would take account of it as a separate language that used words that were phonetically or morphologically the same but nevertheless the constructions put upon the semantics of those words was entirely distinct from the ordinary discourse. Or one had the notion of an idiolect such that and one had a semantic tree constructed out of Chomsky and Katz, such that one had various branching of that semantic tree which took account of various sorts of idiolects. Now when one looked at that position of, say, Art & Language as a group with a particular sort of problem, a particular sort of input for terminology and problems which arose out of a discipline that was historically considered to be discreet from it – philosophy, science, or sociology, or whatever. One looked, as it were, internally at the way those terms came to be used, and one tended to sort of construct the dictionary of those terms in terms of the use that the particular members of that group put upon them. Now, what arose out of that, in a sort of macroscopic way, was to say, well, all right, we’ve got an idiolect here. Now Chomsky, if he’s gonna construct a universal grammar, would have to take account of that idiolect. So then one would say: well, are there any other idiolects around? And one turns to science and one turns to philosophy and one turns to, you know, Oxford philosophy, and one finds that various groups of professionals of a certain sort, are behaving in a fairly similar sort of way. Now, one then tries to sort out whether there’s any traceability of those with respect to other groups who are working, i.e. distinctions between, for instance, existentialism and philosophy of language, or distinctions between Roland Barthes’s studies of language and Gries’s studies of language, things of that sort. Now, that sort of model became a problem that we had to tackle, to some extent. What was the way that we could describe our interactions and maintain those interactions as fairly fruitful? And also try and sort out some mapping of those interactions onto ordinary language. Now the way we looked at that, as I sort of mentioned earlier, was to sort of treat the notion of the semantic tree as one that was ongoing in the philosophy of language, but one that was not sufficiently well-developed, i.e. they had taken the history of language philosophy in England, at least they had taken fairly ordinary demonstrative terms, descriptions, or man-in-the-street sort of sentences, and applied Gries’s, for instance, Gries’s cooperative principles, such that there was a sort of ethical code between these people and their behaviour. And that behaviour was very, very shallow, to some extent. For instance, the notion of irony was an example that we looked at, insofar as the notion of irony doesn’t really operate for any two people who are interacting, who are dealing with something like street directions. Now when it comes to looking at irony with regard to an idiolect that might be fairly rich, or that the members interact socially, language-wise, etcetera, their inputs are fairly similar and so on. The notion of irony might well be something like ordinary language, with regard to that conversation. That is, fairly standard sentences uttered in the streets might turn out to be ironical in that context. Now, Gries’s language philosophy couldn’t really take account of that problem. So one had to again look at the semantic tree and the possibility for branchings on the semantic tree that one might, as it were, fill-in, as members of that, and hope or assume that, or look for studies that allowed for certain sorts of branchings, certain sorts of deviations to occur. It was not categorical with regard to a sort of concept of a universal grammar of any sort that is not sort of a [XXX] academy approach to it. And one looked at oneself sociologically to some extent, in that position. Now where the object of faith, the idea of faith, where Kierkegaard religious or theological problems arose, was to do with… here we seem to have a state of chaos, to a degree, because inside this idiolect, one’s using terms which are applied differently in some way. They have a different semantic branching outside of one’s own conversation. Nevertheless, one might not understand what one is talking about internally, or one couldn’t talk about correlations of an extensional sort between parts of the conversation internally. But, nevertheless, there was some desire, or whatever, or some process, or some possibility, or implication within that structure, such that that conversation could be ongoing. Now, out of that arose the idea of looking at what sort of power structures would be applicable inside an idiolect, by looking at [XXX] form, or looking at standard logical notions of implication, or looking at theological concept of acts of faith or objects of faith. But it was a case of looking at the problem of religion or looking at God or sort of looking at the God problem, rather than looking at the notion of a religious belief. It was a case of saying: it’s a possibility that it is a religious belief, but we are looking at that possibility rather than actually acting necessarily within that. The reflexive paradox might well be that it might turn out that there is nothing else which binds a set of people together for some sort of interaction, while the conversation remains in such a chaotic state that it does, i.e. the conversation inside in relation to the conversation outside. So… yeah, there might be a religious act of faith involved there, but one is not committing oneself to assuming that that is the case; one’s really assuming that the semantic tree, well, the problem of looking at semantic trees is such that deviations, or looking at deviations, is not in a very rich state of research as yet. So that, you know, one’s having to look for other possibilities of that semantic research, or whatever our sort of research or our sort of inquiry might well move into, and that might well be one of them.
Lawrence Weiner: May I take on that then and not to be facetious… What you are saying then is this idiolect society, the idiolectuals, which we must name them then if by turns are not secular, they’re sectarian, rather than secular. Sectarian, there is a historical precept for this sectarian language, and that’s the society of Jesus, the Jesuits. They built a sectarian dialect of Latin, for utilisation of discussing the same God problems. So these idiolectuals then, what you are saying, are then claiming what they are asking for is that Chomsky and other students of language, or other precepts of language and artists utilising language, accept this dialect within their researches as a normal and equal dialect. So it’s a class problem you are pushing, you’re saying that your class, your sect, your religious sect, is asking for representation, because you have a rich language that is not being utilised. You have made, you know, many mentions to the inside and the outside, which is a typical Jesuit problem in relationship to God. It’s a standard Jesuit problem, it’s the standard Jesuit thing. It’s the reason that Jacques Maritain had great difficulty with the society of Jesus when he began to teach in the new world, when he began to teach in the States, because he refused to accept the inside and the outside, and for an existential philosopher not to accept that, for a Christian existentialist, was a major problem.
Philip Pilkington: Can I answer that?
Lawrence Weiner: Please.
Philip Pilkington: I think that there’s a simple misunderstanding. I think that sort of upshots that occurred with the interest in existentialists from Kierkegaard, Heidegger and so on, the problem with [XXXX] like that situation which is in fact the culmination of the problem about God, in fact, used as an analogy for Art-Language, was in fact it came up as – I think it was reified as – not a problem about sectarianism and all the upshots of sectarianism but what in fact that sect may catch or what in fact may be the members of that sect. If we thought of Art-Language or any group whatsoever as a group or well-formed category, a set, then acknowledging the problems that we’ve been talking about, about what on earth are the resources of one’s expressions, the reservoir of one’s experience – what are in fact the pragmatic parameters that catch our lives and to some extent, catch our ontology and so on – when all those pessimistic Cartesian problems are shared, one is not dealing with sectarianism at all. One is dealing with a problem of what on earth is a group, what on earth is a group when it comes together.
Lawrence Weiner: But at the same time you are propounding a group so therefore you are a class within a structure within a society that is asking the classic question why are we here, what is our activity, which is really not the questions of this symposium. But I will accept it of course, it is your choice and it’s your right asking those questions. But you are at the same time asking for recognition as a class. Being in Belgium is a very good example of this. You are saying that there is a rich class that is speaking a dialect that has a rich culture.
Philip Pilkington: I don’t know.
Lawrence Weiner: Perhaps a new culture.
Philip Pilkington: I don’t know whether they understand me or not.
Lawrence Weiner: The idiolectals? You’re speaking – the idiolectuals are speaking…
Philip Pilkington: [inaudible interruption] are successful…
Lawrence Weiner: …Well, this is what you are basically saying. And this rich culture, therefore, must be accepted within the whole.
Philip Pilkington: But I’m not suggesting-
Lawrence Weiner: But you are still pushing this whole within a socially acceptable, totally God-oriented I-Thou, why are we here situation.
Philip Pilkington: No, it’s not… not at all.
Lawrence Weiner: I am afraid in 1973 being an existentialist is a rather dangerous profession because you are dealing here with groups of people who are ex-existentialists. [laughter] No, I am serious, this is a basic aesthetic problem. This is not just a philosophical problem, it is a problem of aesthetics. The majority of people you come in contact with are ex-existentialists and an existentialist usually falls to the right or falls to the left. They never seem to fall in the middle. [laughter]
David Rushton: But I thought that the fundamental point we were sort of raising was a concatenation of different subjects we were raising was not at all a sort of nicely, well-formed existentialist point of view but a simple borrowing to some extent of what in fact someone may learn something from.
Lawrence Weiner: Perhaps you are at a disadvantage having grown up in England and not having the whole basis of American and French existentialism to not realise the full extent of how far existentialism weighed before its collapse.
Philip Pilkington [or David Rushton?]: Let’s not use it as a tag.
Lawrence Weiner: No, no I’m using it as a tag because of the problem of most of the-, especially, Quine’s references to existentialism. They’re references to a certain kind of- existentialism is basically a nationalist movement. Always. It takes into account only the national characteristics of those people speaking that language. So when I say French and American existentialism this is not you know chauvinism of any sort. It’s a fact that existentialism is by its very nature nationalistic.
Philip Pilkington [or David Rushton?]: Oh, sure, we haven’t been using existentialism… across the…
Lawrence Weiner: Totally on the basis of language. So that’s it’s totally nationalistic.
Carl Andre: Can I ask a question?
about ten seconds of several overlapping conversations, during which time Lawrence Weiner can be heard saying ‘Totally impossible. Only the French were capable of translating-‘
Carl Andre: What is the foundation of the relation between art and language in the title? I mean, what do you mean by that title? Does it mean that our language is our art or our art is our language or we use language in order to explain art or use art…?
Philip Pilkington: I wish there was a simple-minded answer to that question about art and language. I think it is a question of…
period of overlapping, largely indistinct voices, towards the end of which can be heard…
Carl Andre: It just indicates an area of interest.
Philip Pilkington: No, not at all, it’s a name…
Carl Andre: -a conjunction of interests.
Member of audience: Will you please take this question into account: What is a group and what is a group when they come together and who is coming together here? You? I may assume that you have interesting debate among yourselves. I’m not sure of that. Maybe you are just playing a game. But we don’t participate at all. And most of us don’t even understand your language. So if there is an art and language problem, it is the problem – maybe Mr Weiner took it into account – that there is a monopoly in language. Maybe this monopoly of language is what you call an idiolect.
Philip Pilkington: Anyway you participated by just simply performing.
Member of audience: No. I got maybe a hundredth or a thousandth part of your discourse.
Philip Pilkington: Now if you think of [XXXX]
Lawrence Weiner: Some of the people who speak English naturally.
Member of audience: Huh?
Lawrence Weiner: No, there is a problem, no, really, there is a problem of the manner. Most of the things, if I may interject, most of the things that you say are debatable and they are well thought out, but the language has a tendency to become convoluted. English English has a tendency towards self-convolution and that self-convolution has been one of the major problems of our debate with Art-Language. Language itself convolutes itself so the gentlemen from Art-Language are not criminals perpetrating something but they are victims. They are victims of the language situation itself that convolutes when you attempt to do this. And the minute you start speaking then in relationship to aesthetics or in relationship to pragmatic problems with an identity problem, an identity crisis, of course it will convolute because each person is dealing with their own identity crisis. So you are dealing then with expressionists. Expressionists first ask you the act of faith: ‘Please believe I am involved and then bear with me.’ So they are asking you to bear with them.
Member of audience: Yeah, but you should understand acoustically.
Lawrence Weiner: Acoustics are a matter of presentation. That’s the steal. [laughter]
Member of audience: I think at the moment it is more a problem of representation. [XXXXX] Why don’t you try to speak French, for example?
laughter followed by short period of overlapping, indistinct voices, during which ‘or Flemish’ can be heard
Carl Andre: You just said the great celebration of Pentecost. Speaking in tongues.
Member of audience: Beter dan Nederlands. Beter dan Nederlands.
Lawrence Weiner: Je kunt wel Nederlands praten, mevrouw [Zegels?]. Je kunt wel Nederlands praten, wil je dat? Ja, ik denk misschien in het Nederlands de woorden is dezelfde van Engels van filosofie. Is dezelfde woorden van Engels, van Frans en van Nederlands.
Member of audience: Dutch to English.
Lawrence Weiner: Ja, and so on. Wat ben je willen. But it’s the same words in English, French and Nederlands. They are not any different. They are all coming from the Latin root and they are all the same words in philosophy. There is no problem in philosophy between French, Nederlands, German or English. It’s a very simple question. It’s a question that’s been talked about for the last three hundred years.
Chair: Maybe when we have an intermission, we start a general discussion and then-
period of overlapping, indistinct voices, at the end of which can be heard a number of hand-claps, apparently in an effort to get the meeting to return to the main discussion
Hans Haacke: I am not a native English speaker but I have been living in the States for a couple of years. So I more or less speak English. I have- always when I tried to read Art-Language literature, I was run against the wall language-wise and I don’t know if this is because I am simply stupid or if what is written there is written in a deliberately mystifying way. And I would like to ask you if there is a design behind writing this style.
Philip Pilkington: No. I think the answer very simply is, very crudely and probably quite incorrectly, is that you have a different way of life to anybody who writes in Art-Language. Just as anybody who writes for Art-Language, X let’s call him, will probably have a very different way of life to the guy who writes for Art-Language called Y. And I think Lawrence Weiner is wrong about there is no problem about the words, they all mean the same and so on. Otherwise people wouldn’t get their knickers in a twist about the differences in certain philosophers between certain words. You know, they get into immense etymological, philological discussion about the semantics, the interpretation and in fact if you like the egocentric aspect, I think, of the interpretation of a word.
Lawrence Weiner: But could semantics… Is not then semantics… Would you accept as a premise perhaps – I’m not giving it as a rule – as a premise that perhaps semantics is a device of the bourgeois to retain the power of discussion, is a device of the patronaat to retain power. Semantics is almost a false science. Linguistics has taught us that. You people yourselves have accepted that.
Philip Pilkington: I think ‘bourgeois’ in a way is quite a good…
Lawrence Weiner: Yeah, you people, in volume 2 of Art-Language, have accepted that semantics is basically a non-science. It’s a bullshit science, it’s like, you know, the way…
Philip Pilkington: It’s conservatism.
Lawrence Weiner: It’s not even conservatism. It’s almost reactionary.
Philip Pilkington: Well, you could call it conservatism to the point, in a certain point it may turn out to be even quite fascist when they say: okay, the meaning postulate of this word is p and shall always be whatever context, whatever situation that bit of syntax, that bit of morpheme, that bit of spelling is used in whatever context, it always has that meaning postulated. It is always interpreted as that.
Lawrence Weiner: Yeah, but meaning has nothing to do with what words mean. Meaning has very little to do with what words mean.
Philip Pilkington: Oh, quite, yes, semantics…
Lawrence Weiner: Yeah, what words mean are a constant in a linguistic sense but meaning is a totally different thing. You’re getting again into your sectarian problem of…
Philip Pilkington: We agree, we agree.
Lawrence Weiner: Yeah, okay.
Hans Haacke: Are you then saying one either has to adopt your style of language or stay out of it and not understand?
Philip Pilkington: No, I think, it’s not a simple matter of saying: you gotta do this. We are going to give you a task and you must fit this task and you must do it well and so on. But I think the situation is, as far as I see it – and it is, I suppose, an apology in some way (that is, only as I see it) – as an index to me or to Dave and the transformation from Dave to me and so on is problematic anyway. For I think there are certain problems that have to be sorted out and they are the individual’s indexical problems. That is, the locutions that someone utters, the propositions that are supposedly made, the language and so on, can only, I think, be made sense of and interpreted as far as that person’s way of life – and however deep the structure he wants to make of a way of life (obligations, theologies, political obligations, whatever) then that structure, if it is in fact a structure of some kind, one can in fact artificially construct some instrumentality of some kind – an approximation of some kind of one’s way of life – then one then begins to see, I think, the problem. And I think in some way the problem may be what in fact is the difference between my articulation of the problem and your articulation of the problem. Or your articulation of the linguistic structure or of your way of life…
Hans Haacke: What I still don’t quite understand is, are you trying to communicate by way of language or are you trying to express your own personality?
Philip Pilkington: I don’t know what communication is. I don’t know what language is. I don’t know what exactly may be the background, the parameters, the exhaustible explanation of what purposes are, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Lawrence Weiner: Isn’t that simplistic? Every time you have to go to the bathroom in a strange place you know goddamn well what communication is.
Philip Pilkington: I don’t know whether- No, I am thinking of in our language or in a text or writing…
Lawrence Weiner: Oh, Art-Language is composed of still human beings even though they are sectarian and therefore if they can relate to each other they can communicate.
Philip Pilkington: Oh, then we beg to differ.
Lawrence Weiner: Yeah, they can still communicate, they haven’t yet transcended. [laughs]
Philip Pilkington: Yeah, but I don’t- I’m not simply thinking of things like- okay, communication may be in some way- my communication in the [XXX] I must get myself washed or must go to the loo or something like that. But if you think of communication the way in which people have been talking about communication…
Lawrence Weiner: How has anyone been talking about communication?
Philip Pilkington: Well, we’ve been talking about semantic surface and semantic depth and the distinction between the two and you can talk about surface, you can talk about surface separated from depth…
Lawrence Weiner: Right.
Philip Pilkington: That is that, you know, you live in 1973-
Lawrence Weiner: And also the cosmetic aspect of language. OK.
Philip Pilkington: -[XXXXXXXX] cultural backgrounds…
Lawrence Weiner: There’s a cosmetic aspect to language but-
Carl Andre: I have a question-
Philip Pilkington: So what is the problem about communication?
Carl Andre: -if I may ask. Why does Art-Language bother with art at all? Why has it situated itself in an art context? To my mind, since most of my adult activity has been involved in art and yet – although I am not saying it’d be a necessity – the overlapping between my activity and my experience and your statement is null, is zero. And the point is I do know various, erm, which your overlap with this ninety-nine percent. Now the point is, why is it that you bring this kind of analysis to art where there is no competence to deal with what you are doing? In other words, to put it another way, is it possible that some people talking together incomprehensibly to another group of people constitute an art movement?
Philip Pilkington: Well, I think the picture of this situation is a very simple one of [numerous?] circles in a way. I think that the linguistic problem, the one [XXXXXXX] is a horrible phrase. Language problem I think overlaps in some way, it envelops in some way any practice of any kind. That would include art, that would include any other defeasible category whatsoever…
Lawrence Weiner: Lack of qualifications, though, from speaking to academics, lack of qualifications would not allow you to enter into a linguistic world, though.
Philip Pilkington: Yeah, yeah. Sure.
Lawrence Weiner: And a total disdain, then, for art as an expressionist means would allow you to enter into any art world because in art there are no qualifications. It’s the last bastion of so-called educated people that you don’t need a ticket of need to get in. They can’t enter into a discussion with Quine. He won’t have it because they are not qualified. They are in the position of students in linguistics, but they think that because they are in the position of students of linguistics – they’re men of good will – that means that they can just as easily be artists. I disagree with that totally…
Indeterminate Speaker: [interruption apparently agreeing]
Lawrence Weiner: As well. Yeah, I disagree with that totally as well, Carl. I don’t see any relation between the writings of Art-Language to legitimate aesthetic problems.
Albert Schug: Yes, but there is a relation between art and language and this relation, I think, should be expressed more exactly here. For as far as I see, in art itself there are problems of language too and there’s the relation that art itself has its own problems of language. And I think it would be very good to begin with this relation between art and language in this discussion for all of you are, as far as I see, very far in linguistic problems and down the step into linguistic problems beyond art probably. And I think we should begin in the first place where art and language are related, where art problems are language problems and where language problems are art problems, and why, how these problems are discussed here. It would be very good.
David Rushton: Yeah, I think you may want to a botanist who would be a very good taxonomist to be able to split off various objects in a way. I’m just trying to think of- I can’t think of a relation, I can’t think of an articulation of a relation between art and language or language to art. I’m trying to think of how on earth you would approach it, you would think of art as a very settled collection or category of objects that may be in some way captured by that categorisation. Now this is, I think, ludicrous because one thinks then, of course, that there is in some way there is a background to that object – if it is in fact an art object, a painting, a sculpture whatever – coming into existence. There’s a cultural background of some kind. There is a history of some kind. Now that may in some way be captured along with the object by some circumspect look at the culture, look at the language, look at the way you come to a language and so on. But I think – I’m trying to in some way answer your question – the idea of uttering in some way a relation that will stand a priori for the identity, or in some way the set theoretical relation between language and art is absolutely ludicrous because as soon as you start in some way to sort out that relation, you are then again involved – to go back on the [freight?] of the existential point of view (the ek-sistence with a ‘k’, not with an ‘x’) – you are then involved with the indexicality of that relation of language to art.
Lawrence Weiner: Are you not [turning to?] your faith problem again? You are an apostle- [Rushton attempts to interrupt] No, you are an apostle of Art-Language. Art-Language precedes your development. [Rushton comments humorously on the use of the word ‘apostle’] No, an apostle. You are an apostle, you are an apostle of Art-Language. And yet you are saying that you yourself are not really aware of it but yet when the art-language dearly touches you, you can feel the power.
Philip Pilkington: Yeah.
Lawrence Weiner: So you are then asking, of course, then- That really justifies why you spent so much time at the beginning asking us for an article of faith because you are telling me now that you have felt the power but you can’t rationalise where this power comes from, what it is. But if one joins the church they will learn the language and- It sounds very much like Scientology. [Laughter. One person quietly applauds.]
David Rushton: Rationality [XXXXXX]. I mean, rationality, the idea of-[XXXXXXXXXXX]
Lawrence Weiner: I don’t mean to be funny. I’m really not doing-
David Rushton: I know, I know.
Lawrence Weiner: -but it does fit logically as Scientology.
David Rushton: -[XXXXXXXXX] There are [XX] notices in England…
Member of audience: No but artists have used language in their art. What are you trying to tell us now?
Philip Pilkington or David Rushton: Well, one of the things I will say, I can’t separate one activity very easily from another activity in my day-to-day life. There is art and the other activity is not art. I can think of methodological procedures. And in a way this is an attempt at revision, an ideological revision of some kind in Art-Language. But the only methodology we had was not especially with canvas, was not the- whatever the construction [of speech is?] in some way a conversation was the only methodology we could cling to.
Philip Pilkington or David Rushton: Again, reflexively and again apologetically, going back to existentialism, this reflexivity was not a paradox of any kind. It was simply seeing one’s history and trying to explain what one was doing in the past and trying to help oneself, what one would do in the future and what we are doing in the present. We are very simply trying to make sense of one’s own activity, acknowledging the fact that activity in some way could not be explained exhaustively.
Lawrence Weiner: It doesn’t reflect out. It’s purely reflexive.
Philip Pilkington: I don’t know about purely reflexive. If you think that your day-to-day activity and you think: ‘what did I do-?’
Lawrence Weiner: The application of your researches seem to be purely reflexive. What is your rational, then, for an existence within the society that feeds you?
Philip Pilkington: I don’t know about society feeding us.
Lawrence Weiner: So society feeds you. You eat every day. [interjected at this point are ‘Sure’, ‘I hope’ and ‘Not today’, the last probably from Pilkington] You look quite healthy and well-clothed. What is your own self-rationalisation for your job? Each of us work for a living and what is your rationalisation that you do? May I ask what you think at the end of the day you have done for eating? What you have done to justify the society supporting you?
Carl Andre: [XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX] you for a professed Marxist, I think. [laughter]
Lawrence Weiner: I’m playing devil’s advocate here now, Carl. I am asking, really, I’d like that answer. What have you done?
Philip Pilkington: As Leonardo de Vinci said…
Carl Andre: That’s God as employer. I won’t accept that either. I think art is very much like- Now, earlier, in your initial remarks you- I thought you said something in the course of the argument about sex satisfaction and I was getting hot on that and then I realised…
Lawrence Weiner: Sex?
Carl Andre: Sex satisfaction.
Philip Pilkington: That’s not problematic.
Carl Andre: I think art is an area very much like sex satisfaction, eating, drinking, laughing, jokes, having a good time, sitting around here. I don’t think it’s much like lectures in a lecture hall. I don’t think it’s much like text books. I don’t- [interjection: ‘I think that’s appalling’, possibly Rushton]. I think that’s just a drag. I dropped out of school years ago because I didn’t want to sit in seedy places listening to seedy people telling me seedy ideas which have no application to any sense I have of the world. That’s all. That’s my relationship to, also the concept of- no thoughts. I don’t have ideas, I have desires for art. And I usually get them in a gratifying way.
Philip Pilkington: [XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX]
Carl Andre: Well, I’ll tell you. Art for me is a form ofeating, making love, doing all these things. It’s like those activities, it’s not at all like an activity of- Santayana summed it up perfectly for me, I have never read him, but I have read the title of his book Scepticism and Animal Faith. I think that’s, that’s enough.
Philip Pilkington: So this is just a piece of masochism.
Carl Andre: No, what I’m telling you is- No, no, no, I’m just telling you my temperament.
Philip Pilkington: No I meant that structurally or methodologically or whatever in terms of your feelings or however you would interpret this activity or relation to art. If your role in it would be somewhat masochistic or-
Carl Andre: In relation to art?
Philip Pilkington: No, in relation to this activity here.
Carl Andre: Oh no, meeting with people and talking to them is fine.
Philip Pilkington: [XXXXXXXXX] It really is.
Carl Andre: [laughs]. Well, people have a different scale to reality, you know.
Philip Pilkington: [XXXXXXXXX] all the good things in life are good, are great.
Carl Andre: Oh, no, no, a lot of good things in life that people like that I don’t care for at all.
Philip Pilkington: That’s a bit better. Pretty much exclude things I would have thought about a moral life.
Carl Andre: Anything involving decisions. You can call it taste, you can call it morality, you can call it ethics, you can call it anything else, but it’s the- what can I say, I’m interested in the unnameable. Really.
Philip Pilkington: Join the club.
Carl Andre: But also, could I ask you, like what is- what would you say was a first axiom? I mean, take me to the beginning. What would you say is a first axiom of your interest?
Philip Pilkington: The first axiom would be there aren’t any axioms. I mean- [Andre attempts to interrupt] I think- Lawrence’s theory that [XXXX] would never talk to [XX XXXXX] is quite a good point. But it also bears on things like- You know, you can’t rationalise your day-to-day activities. Why can’t you rationalise it? Why can’t you tell me this, that and the other? In fact that is rather like being in Quine’s position, by explicitly requiring some conventionality. [XXXXXXXXXX] that sort of activity [XXXXXXXXXX].
Carl Andre: I like very much the idea that you said earlier that the peculiar style or [XXXXXXX] the parochial style of Art-Language comes from the fact that typical people meeting together and talking together and building a common body of experience for them which does- it’s contained within the general body of language but is not as immediately accessible as to that group which are constantly transacting. Now my difficulty with that is the people I transact with, let’s say the fellow artists I meet, we’re hardly ever sober so we could never carry on a conversation very long on what you’re talking about.
Philip Pilkington: We stay drunk and carry on the conversation.
Carl Andre: Alright. Yes, Michael Baldwin I’ve heard do that. I finally had to ask him to stop. It’s like the sea breaking on a rock. But is there an initial axiom, an axiom of interest, if not an axiom of analysis?
Philip Pilkington: Well, I understand, yeah, if you think of axiom as how do you start off, rather than ‘This is true’…
Carl Andre: Exactly. I mean we all start with temperament-
Philip Pilkington: Yeah, suddenly- yeah I think something like that. Suddenly we’ve realised, I think, that we’ve been engaged in some heavy-scale intellectual activity of some kind, in scare quotes, and realised that in many ways that intellectual activity has been fairly futile, looking back at the people that we’ve borrowed from – David [XXXXX] and so on, [XXXXXXX] and so on –
Carl Andre: But aren’t they always doing that anyway?
Philip Pilkington: Yeah, but a lot of the people miss the point [XXX]. That is, you know, it’s like a part of our history that had to be explained. I think that is the only action, if you like, [XXXXXXX] explanation that I could, sort of, articulate. Simply that, that we found ourselves in the position of doing something that may be quite wrong or quite incorrect or quite unable to capture to what in fact we should be doing. However, what we should be doing is [XXXX] another problem.
Albert Schug: But as far as I see, in your language problems, which are, first, art-linguistic problems, you exclude the relation between language and the exterior world.
David Rushton: No, no-
Albert Schug: As I understood it.
David Rushton: I was trying to outline what appeared to us to be – if you like – the sorts of things that cropped up when one talked to some people and the sorts of things that cropped up when one talked to other people, even though in some sense the subject matter might well have been the same. Now if one was talking to Leo Apostel and I went along as a student or whatever, it might well be a different sort of conversation than one would have if one was talking about Leo Apostel’s papers to Philip or Michael or whatever. Now, what I was mapping, and where Lawrence went off on what appeared to me to be a tangent, was that the going-on relation or the relation which (whatever) appears at the moment [reflexively to bind one together?] which might well just be the fact that if you speak- if your interests are such and such then you mix with people whose interests are much the same, so you can talk to them. It might just be like that. [interjection: ‘That’s a massive assumption.’] The explanations or whatever one might start to look at, I started to construct a list of logical implications or concatenations or whatever and Kierkegaard’s act of faith was one part of that list that one might start looking at – one that Philip has been looking at, for instance – in a way to sort out this problem. Now, what I also suggested was that if one were to have a dictionary or a Chomskyian dictionary or whatever of a sort that various- that it’s going to be made up of various sorts of idiolects. It is going to be made up of the idiolect of me bearing in mind my pragmatic context talking to Leo Apostel. It’s going to be made up of me talking to him much on surface-level, much the same subject matter possibly. But these- There is going to be a branching of the sort between these two things. Now, what one’s interested in looking, having arrived at this position – and it’s an historical account of to some extent the chaos that we find ourselves in – is what are (if you like) the relations between the various parts of that dictionary, that hypothetical dictionary that could be constructed such that it could trace itself back onto various possible notions of what an ordinary discourse might be, an art discourse might be or whatever sort of possible discourses one had in scare quotes. And one might limit them to something like a dictionary of a lecture or a dictionary of a meeting between several different sorts of people. One’s not being universal.
Albert Schug: Yes, it is very interesting that you always say internal logic and dictionary. You always work with things in which words and language are completely abstract. As far as I see, Carl Andre too has language problems which are completely different from these language problems discussed here. They are language problems for the communication with the external world, with the formation of I don’t know the word – Begriff we say in German – and this relation between things you see in the external world which form the Begriff and then you can relate by aid of this Begriff with the external world. This concept is completely different from a thing that is in a dictionary for it has an immediate relation to the external world. It is for instance [XXXXXXXXX]. You can see it can fall on your head or something like this. And there is a relation which is emotional too and as far as I see relations from art and language to the external world are completely free of emotions. And for Carl Andre, as far as I see, this relation between the concept and the external world is a relation in which you involve emotions.
David Rushton: Well, I would suggest that of lot of Art-Language and one reason the magazine of Art-Language which is I suppose the external organ, which is what one might say was an early attempt at saying what is the relation between this body of people and that body of people, a public magazine – The mistake with that was, I would say, largely was that it contained pieces of rhetoric which to me would have a very strong emotional content on one level. I.e. they would have to do with perhaps influencing on the basis of a [XXXXXXXX] charismatic authority or whatever in the absence of certain conventions that were available. And I would say that what got- where that got messed up was that either the rhetoric was incomprehensible or the magazines themselves were looked at as philosophical, quasi-philosophical journals and that if a term occurred like hermeneutics in that, it would be traced back to a standard philosophical interpretation. I.e. a lot would be forgotten or passed over with regard to the rhetorical force that a lot of it was intended to have. So it became a bit sort of atrophied as a quasi-philosophical magazine, which it was not what it was intended to be. It evolved into that position simply because the group as such was not- the group as such met under the auspices of constructing a magazine. Now the group meets because they have a common interest rather than the other way around. So how one would construct proceedings or whatever or publications or something that externalised itself from the group in some way would be to take into account either a fairer mirror image of that internal interaction – such that it would have a mirror image in the external world (so that there could be some correlation between them) – or one would give up proceeding altogether. Now, one’s looking into the possibility, I suppose, of seeing whether- of (bearing in mind some semantic) looking into the deviations of a semantic model of a sort where or how those proceedings will be caught, where one draws the line about proceedings, interactions, conversations and so on, and how one can present that in a fashion such that it’s not for a start-off taken simply as bland rhetoric – which really it never was but partly should have been – and on the other hand not taken as a sort of pseudo mind magazine or philosophical journal or whatever. So one’s looking into the – if you like – display problems to an extent, that is problems which I suppose Carl Andre or any other- a painter would have to deal with to some extent. So those problems do occur. I think a notion to say that Art-Language magazine is sterile of emotion is- I suppose exemplifies some of the points insofar as a lot of it was essentially political on a charismatic rather than a conventional level.
Carl Andre: But there is a psychological point I think here to take in. That it could be amply true that, well, to begin with – to respond to your observation – I have never been able to differentiate myself between an idea and an emotion at all. They are not separate to me, I cannot see them separate. If I suddenly discover something or have a realisation, it’s a thrill let’s say – what I call emotional life. When the emotions are low-grade, the thought is low-grade, I’ve found, when you are down, bored or when you’re roting – when you’re doing by rote rather than by construction. Indeed, I do not doubt of course your emotion involved in this, your satisfaction – I’ll just say sexually rooted from a Freudian point of view but just say your satisfaction from this thing. But to others it may appear a kind of fetishism. To me it does. Like, I’m not interested in boots but some people are interested in boots and there’s a tremendous process of sexual satisfaction with something that for somebody else there’s no satisfaction whatsoever. I’m saying that my temperament, confronted with arguments such as those of Art-Language, especially in the writing, I’m completely turned off. I mean I don’t- Perhaps I have a negative fetish. I’m certainly not an intellectual. So, I’m just suggesting that I do not doubt your own satisfactions because the person who does not pursue their own safisfactions is, I think, unfortunate. But, it’s very hard- In art the point is you are for what you do and I have the same problem with my own work. If people come by, they say that’s not art. [XXXXXX] Don’t worry about it. Art is not to worry about. If it was to worry about, I wouldn’t be interested in it, to offer possibilities of pleasure, of joy, of whatever you like to term it. If people don’t like it – and it could very well, as far as I’m concerned, with my own work – then it is inadequate for their needs. Art should be a various activity. But I’m still interested in this idea of a first axiom or a first definition or some- But you’re not interested in that anymore.
Philip Pilkington: But you think of [XXXXXXXXXXX] or whatever question you ask. I wonder, does he come to construct that axiom?
Carl Andre: Oh, yes, of course.
Philip Pilkington: That’s the simple answer to the problem about this is [XXXXXXXXXXX]. In that in a way answers your question about there is no emotion at all.
Lawrence Weiner: I never said anything about emotion in general. Could I interject a question? How am I as an artist then supposed to relate – this is a legitimate question – to the things that are exhibited by Art-Language for sale, very often which I have seen signed and numbered? How am I to relate to them as manifestations of what is then the theory of Art-Language because they are contradictory to the idea itself of Art-Language. The idea is that I have been able to cull from reading what Art & Language has written, which I have done.
Philip Pilkington: Most of the- sort of the [guff?] we have been talking about has been very, very recent sort of revision.
Lawrence Weiner: It’s a revision then. Then it will have to be a revision. There will be no further presentations of signed and numbered editions?
Philip Pilkington: Oh, no, no, no. The only problem really now is to sort of face people and say, okay, what is your art? OK, you’ve told me what your problems are. Now what is your art? Presumably, the way we get around that is simply by sampling in some way what our activities are. As we’ve said, we cannot- or at least not at this stage- I doubt whether we will be able to raise the massive methodological edifices to explain what our activities are, so that we would in fact be able to say, okay, here is the axiom, here is the set of axioms and so on. I think we would simply have to-
Lawrence Weiner: Could you help us a little bit and offer what the intent is aside from self-revelation? Because that is the intent common to most people in the world – I would say that almost all self-realisation is the intent – so that would not then justify its existence within the art context nor within the philosophical context. I don’t see any reason for you having – out of any sort of humility – to put parentheses around it or quotes around and say quasi. Say philosophical and if it fails as philosophy it fails as philosophy. But it’s …
Philip Pilkington: … good.
Lawrence Weiner: Yeah, I mean, there’s no reason to clothe it. I’m not accepting the conventions that you seem to be stuck by. The total academic conventions of …
Philip Pilkington: Oh, Christ, no …
Lawrence Weiner: So then don’t say quasi. Say you are involved, then, in philosophical involvement. But are you involved in aesthetics?
Philip Pilkington: No, philosophers don’t talk to us-
Lawrence Weiner: Yeah, I know, but you are internally in your sect. But are you involved with aesthetic problems?
Philip Pilkington: Well, if you can explain to me in five minutes what you mean by aesthetic then I may be able to answer yes or no.
Lawrence Weiner: Why does it necessarily have to be five minutes?
Philip Pilkington: Ten minutes, a quarter of an hour.
Lawrence Weiner: The relation of non-utilitarian objects produced by people for another purpose. Okay?
Philip Pilkington: I see.
Lawrence Weiner: Standard. Which is just a conglomerate rephrasing of what has been said well by Donald Judd, which is art is what artists make. That’s not an act of faith statement either because artists can classify themselves then as dialecticians, as object dialecticians, as idea dialecticians and that’s their prerogative. A man making sculptures or a person making paintings is, then, an object dialectician dealing with the dialectics of placing another object into the environment, an object that they have constructed. It’s a legitimate- legitimate units.
Philip Pilkington: [XXXXXXXX] because I don’t think we are dealing with dialectics. I don’t think that one should talk about it.
Lawrence Weiner: If you are dealing with conversation dialectics, dialectics and conversation are synonymous.
Philip Pilkington: Ah, I doubt it.
Lawrence Weiner: Yes, they are. They’re synonymous.
Philip Pilkington: I thought dialectics was, you know, something that was dead and buried with Hegelianism.
Lawrence Weiner: No, dialectics and conversation are synonymous. Conversation on a certain point is a dialectic.
Philip Pilkington: No, I don’t think…
Lawrence Weiner: [laughs] That’s really a standard definition of dialectic.
Albert Schug: But you introduced the word which is very interesting for artists. You just introduced uttered the word aesthetics. What’s this in actual art?
Lawrence Weiner: In actual art? You’re asking- who are you asking? Me? Hang on.
Unidentified speaker: There is no existence, then, other than aesthetics. There is just the rules of the game.
Lawrence Weiner: [XXXXXXX] Introducing objects or ideas within a certain context. That’s simple. That’s what aesthetics are. They’re the rules of the game, they’re changeable rules, but they are the rules of the game. They can change instantly with the introduction of a new object or new idea, but they are the rules of the game. They are the history of art, are aesthetics, the history of what has been done in art, are aesthetics. They are nothing more and nothing less.
Carl Andre: I have a question that perhaps would enlarge the interest of the discussion, because it would really be a question to those of you who face- Let’s see if that’s west- Some of us face north and some of us are facing south. Which way is north and which way is south, does anyone have- That’s east and west, obviously. That’s the north. Alright, the north-facing people, I have a question for the north facing people. In fact, it seems to me that a great deal of our experience of art or what we substitute for our experience of art is conveyed in language. This is certainly an American. I recognize it as an American art heresy I think, the substitute of information about art and reproductions of art and-
Philip Pilkington: [XXXXX] Catholic.
Carl Andre: …this old business about the experience of art itself. So I would wonder, I would ask anyone what are your problems or thoughts about Art-Language, especially to this tendency which to me has finally become manifest in art itself in what is called – and I would say [XXXXXXXX] little [XXXXXXXXXX] the whole conceptual art movement seems to me a way of moving away from art and the inconvenience of actually having to have art and move only into the databank, as you will, or the file of photographs or the slides or the- you know, turn it exactly into information. Do you people have any art language problems except the fact we speak English?
Carl Andre: I don’t know. Would you turn around? No one will have any problem.
Member of audience: Not before meeting the Art-Language people.
further pause and murmuring
David Rushton: Can I ask you something, Carl, about your question? If I was a rather thick-headed person [XXXXXX]
Member of audience: Could you speak up?
David Rushton: If I was a thick-headed spectator coming to one of your exhibitions or coming to terms with your objects, do you think that you would be appalled by the idea of my in some way saying: This is a Carl Andre work? This is a work of art. This is an object. This is something that is discreet from my past experience or [XXXXXXXXXX], which is different from a Donald Judd. This is good art. This is bad art. This is art etcetera, etcetera. Because I think once you start to ask what in fact the basis of those decisions are, again, bringing in, in fact, a fragment of emotion in those decisions – because presumably one is always involved in some way with the, I suppose in some way the ontology, moral situation, with decisions – would you not then think that you would either exclude all those questions, exclude all those evaluations, exclude all those identifications with your object, or it being in fact your object at all, or would you then say, okay, this guy must in fact identify this thing in some way? He may evaluate it, it is permissible for him to evaluate it. Because if you then start to do that, then I think you then start bring – accepting that is problematic for all those evaluations – you then start to bring in the problematic of any influence whatsoever or of any object whatsoever or of any evaluation whatsoever.
Carl Andre: Yes, except you’re saying that there’s a piece, as if…
David Rushton: No, I’m simply seeing your thing as a bit of phenomena, that’s all. Very basic bits of phenomena, your objects-
Carl Andre: Any work of art, if in its material presence – There are no works of art here, I guess, unless somebody’s been signed. I think perhaps there is a work of art and I don’t know if that’s a work of art or not. It seems to resemble a work of art, in colours and-
David Rushton: You know, this is part of the problem that Lawrence brought up and you brought up. It has to do with the conventionality, it has to do with saying, well, look at the conventions by looking at the objects that are around us in some way and saying, well what are the objects? Something that somehow fits into that category of object on some level will be an art object and there’s no problem. Now what Lawrence brought up was this problem of Don Judd what the artist calls art is art and the liberalness of that, the openness of that with respect to Robert Barry or any other sort of assertion about past [XXXXXXXXX] or whatever and that anything theoretically under that sort of rubric comes up as an art object if it’s asserted to be an art object by an artist. Now, therefore, the artist comes before the art object on that basis. What looks odd about that is that you have a problem where somebody who is one day not an artist unless he asserts something that somehow fits into the conventionality prior to. That is, it’s in some way normal with respect to the other convention and then he may well be – and this is only a possibility – he may well be assigned a title such as artist such that he can then assert what the damn hell likes on the basis of his prior act within a conventional system. Nevertheless his tag artist will continue with him. It will follow on from that. Now, one disagrees with that because there are problems- there are problems to do with dialectics, which are to do with the problem of intention. They’re to do with the problems of only taking a surface sort of assertion, not taking performative aspects or competent aspects of that assertion, or taking constructions in plays, hypothetical contexts and all that sort of stuff, such that the conventions up till now have only dealt with that surface issue. It’s been- Asserting has been much the same as pushing into a gallery.
Carl Andre: Yes, but I think your problem is exactly this. You might say that all the art that has been produced – and how can we say ‘art objects’? We’ll have to say what we call art objects because we don’t know about other cultures, previous cultures. The word art itself is a recent invention, as you know – but within the conventions of our view there is a category called art and it’s not empty, evidently.
David Rushton: Yeah, and you’d list a lot of objects as a way of describing that category, rather than listing some-
Carl Andre: Well, no. I wouldn’t list any objects at all. I would take you to a place where I knew there was a work of art and I would point it out to you. And this would be my condition. I wouldn’t have to say anything to you at all. This is the point. I think you can carry on art perfectly well without saying anything at all.
David Rushton: Oh yeah, but we’re talking about language as sort of problematic [XXXXXX]-
Carl Andre: You can’t carry on the discussion about language, for god’s sake.
David Rushton: Listen, you could say rather something like: people use language to put categories on my work, your work, anybody else’s work. It’s a phenomenon. And what on earth are the backgrounds to that utterance, to that locutional [XXXXXXXXX]-
Carl Andre: I think there’s a great controversy between the nature of the art object and- or, to put it another way, art is what we do and culture is what is done to us and I think that a lot of the- Because art is not language, although you can talk about art in language, obviously. Art is not language and its relations to people are not linguistic any more than you can say the bullet from the enemy that pierces your heart and kills you, that’s not a message, really. I mean, you can think of it as a message but it’s trivial. It kills you. The great line: death is nature’s way of telling to slow down. I once saw that written in a john. We don’t live in a world of messages, we live in a world in which language- We employ language in order to facilitate our gratification. I mean, language is a tool. It is not-
David Rushton: Solely a tool of that sort?
Carl Andre: Pardon?
David Rushton: Solely a tool of that sort? An aid to a [state?] rather than- You mean you’re not allowing for description of other parts of language.
Carl Andre: Sure, that’s a tool used to describe the tool.
David Rushton: Fine. Yeah, sounds right. Phenomenology is phenomenology.
Carl Andre: I don’t know. That’s something you have to say. To me, I think the reason why I am involved with art is because of- Art is a way of myself mediating between a subjective world and a world of privacy and world of oneself, and both the social world of other people and their individual subjectivities and a material world which extends far beyond, let’s say, our world, if you see what I mean. And somehow art serves my psychological needs of mediating with this, breaking down the isolation, both the social isolation of the individual and the isolation of the individual as a complex biological organism with a situation which overall seems hostile to biological organisms of any kind. Like, we found nothing on the moon, identifiable. So, I think somehow art for me subjectively serves the mediation both with other people and with stuff, inanimate stuff that has no care for man or existence.
Philip Pilkington: I think it is a sort of paradigm [XXXXXXXX] You’re saying something rather like ‘My work is involved with, in some way, some transformation, some transcendence from our world’. [XXXXXX]-
Carl Andre: No, no, no. Not at all. You misunderstood. You see, what I’m saying it’s a mediation for me. I think one- Gratification is a matter of trying to go from high levels of tension to lower levels tension. Art serves to release tensions for me which are involved with the fact that I am one person and there are many persons. I am one person and I am going to die and become, you know- A work of art is dead and yet it is mine. So somehow perhaps in a deep unconscious pre-linguistic or unlinguistic way, it helps to reconcile me to the fact that I am going to die. And I don’t mean the immortality of the artwork, I think whether it’s going to live after me [XXXXXXXXXXX]. That’s nonsense. I mean between something relates to me in stones, to reconcile the fact that insofar as I am like a stone and not like a stone, insofar as I’m like other people and not like other people. It’s a way of reconciling oneself to one’s own fate.
Philip Pilkington: [XXXXXXXXX] A redemption through…
Carl Andre: Oh, it’s not redemption. No, not at all. I don’t think there is any redeeming. But that’s the whole thing that you won’t become like a stone. You want to be saved from the condition of stones. You want to be saved from the condition of other people. No, I don’t want to be saved from it. I want to be at peace with it. Put it that way. Not peace with it all; if somebody throws a stone at me, I don’t want to be at peace with that, I want to duck. But that- I mean that’s what art- I think how art functions with me.
Philip Pilkington: Or how you make up something.
Carl Andre: Could be.
Member of audience: One objection I would make to other members is that, for instance, in the text you published in the catalogue for documenta, you are always speaking about a method, about means of communication in making the art. Every content you’re introducing into your messages [XXXXX]. But it’s only speaking about method and never about the content you want to communicate about. And so I don’t see how you can give any opportunity to your readers to realise what you are speaking about. What is your message or what is the part of the public to have dialectics with your thoughts?
Philip Pilkington: Presumably, the problems that are iterated in the documenta catalogue- I can’t remember, I probably haven’t looked at it, haven’t read it-
Member of audience: Well, there’s a very simple thesis which is about communication with known animals-
Philip Pilkington: Hmm. Well, presumably that is reflexively the communication. To talk about this methodology is the talk, the content. But also it would depend on what you wanted to make of it, I would have thought. It’s as simple as that. It would also depend on what you wanted to make of the meaning of, the content of the text.
Member of audience: But I just asked about the content, which may be speaking about methodology.
Philip Pilkington: Well, I think that whatever one wanted to say to modify your interpretation of it would merely be a modification of your interpretation, nothing other than that. That is not unless you would- [audience member attempts to interrupt] That is, you would have a Gestalt of some kind of the content of the text and any modification would nevertheless be in some egocentric way a modification of that Gestalt of yours, of the text.
Member of audience: Then it’s something like gymnastics.
Philip Pilkington: Glad you noticed. How true!
silence, followed by murmurs about a cup of tea
Chair: Shall we have a break and then [XXXXXX] we continue?
Transcriptie: Petra Van der Jeught
Correctie: Jodie Hruby / Jim O’Driscoll