Unreal Nature

February 5, 2018

Trying to Figure Them Out

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:46 am

… I see them as extraordinarily alert people actively trying to work things out.

This is from the introductory interview between Storr and editor Pietropaolo found in Robert Storr: Interviews on Art edited by Francesca Pietropaolo (2017):

[ … ]

Robert Storr: … For me the most crucial thing that [Pascal] says is that belief is separate from proof. And you should respect it in those terms. You shouldn’t try to prove everything you believe and you should admit it when you are making a leap of faith. And for what it’s worth, it’s exactly what Sol LeWitt thought.

Francesca Pietropaolo: That’s interesting!

RS: The first sentence of Sol’s Sentences on Conceptual Art (1967) is “Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.” It’s almost what Pascal says, right? A great deal of criticism tries to take artists like LeWitt and Bob Ryman — people who have made amazing leaps of faith and have developed out of them enormously important bodies of work — and try to rationalize them, and explain that each decision was a conscious, rational decision. That’s not only untrue, but it also violated the spirit of the work.

[ … ]

RS: There is a very strange thing called the “art world” — which is basically all about business — and then there is the “art community,” composed of makers, critics, curators and many others, including some dealers, with a hand in creating the focus of our collective attention. What one reads about, for the most part, in the papers and in magazines is the art world, not the art community. What I’m interested in now, as before, is the art community; I try to stay as far away from the art world as I possibly can, while at the same time functioning within it to the degree required.

[ … ]

RS: Well, interviews are ways for me to further my own understanding. I tried to use the interview’s opportunity as a way to advance my own thinking about topics I am not totally sure of. I have the same attitude about writing. You don’t just write what you know or believe; you write about what you don’t yet know, and by the end of the writing you have a better grasp of what’s what and where you stand.

FP: So for you writing is akin to thinking out loud.

RS: I start thinking out loud about something that I care about. After doing some significant research, it’s writing itself as a process — sorting materials, ideas, and evidence — that leads me to some working conclusions. But they are working conclusions. I think that that’s why I am such a problem for the academic establishment, because I don’t have a discourse. I don’t believe in having a discourse. I do have positions, but not a position. I don’t see artists as examples of a larger argument of my own or anybody else. I see them as extraordinarily alert people actively trying to work things out. My task as a critic, and in doing the interviews, is trying to figure them out while they figure those things out.




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