Criptic Critic Conscience and Known for it

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chris Kraus/ Tao Wells - conversation transcript



Art Symposium Massey University 2011


Chris Kraus:  I was really, Tao, I was really eager to talk to you when I came to Wellington, cause we've been emailing back and forth now for almost a year, I guess you facebooked me at one point last year when you were doing the project called "The Beneficiary's Office" with Laura Shepard and the Wells Group right?

Tao Wells: Out of pure desperation I face-booked you, yeah

Chris: yeah

Tao: yeah

Chris: can you talk…

Tao: I'm alone in the universe, I need some friends

Chris: The whole hearing thing…

Tao: Oh sorry

Chris: …is a bit of an issue, when you talk to me…

Tao: talk straight to you

Chris: …could you talk …

Tao: yeah sorry I forgot, I forgot

Chris: …directly to my ear and a little bit louder that would be really helpful…

Tao: Ok

Chris: Ok, thank you

Tao: sorry (laughs)

Chris: (smiles)

Chris: anyway I read, when you emailed me or face-booked me and we, you know,  you told me about your project and then I read all about it and I was really blown away, I mean it really kinda struck a nerve with me for a couple of reasons, I guess first because it's like oh they're at it again in New Zealand.

I had written part of the catalog for the artist et.al when she/ they did the, represented New Zealand in the Venice Parvilion in 05 and it's an artist that I follow, that I have followed this artists work for a long time and it never occurred to me that it would be controversial in New Zealand in the way that It was. I mean to the level of like the participation of this artist. I mean I guess you are all familiar with the sort of quote unquote, scandal, right of et.al? 

The problem that people had with et.al was that it was a pseudonym, the artist had chosen to work under the a genderless  pseudonym that implies a collective of artists and pretending that the last hundred years of art history haven't happened, they had I guess…  not so much Creative New Zealand who were paying for it but Parliament had a terrible problem with the idea that a person would present work not under their regular name and this was debated in Parliament, it was a huge scandal that some one would have the nerve..

Tao: in the, in the guise of transparency

Chris: Right! Right, I mean Venice is the Olympics of the art world

Tao: We have to have transparency here (mockingly)

Chris: Right, it was totally absurd

Tao: yep

Chris: Good for the artist, but also bad for the artist.

Tao: I thought ultimately really bad.

Chris; Yeah, actually it was ultimately really bad because she got known or they got known, but in not  the most interesting way at all

Tao: Exactly and for me the exciting parts of her practice which are,  have always conceived of a public, there are characters within, or people within the group of et.al,

Chris: Yeah right,

Tao: that are public entities, that are public translators and intermediaries between other aspects of her, the collective,  so the fact that that was down played and fumbled in a public forum, as the news paper for example, not having, not, kind of put her in a weakened position rather than in an aggressive pro active position, I thought was a major… not just a catastrophe but it was like a designed institutional problem… (laughs)

Chris: right

Tao: that we are perpetuating.

Chris: well when I read the kind of things that were coming out of the mainstream media about your work I thought ugh they're at it again and the project really struck a nerve with me, "The Beneficiary's Office"  because it seemed so brilliantly to kind of speak to the ideas in two of my favorite philosophical works; at Semiotext(e) where I am a co editor, that Semiotext(e) has published in the last three or four years. "The Coming Insurrection" which i want to read a little passage out of, for you.  Also "The Soul at Work" Bifo Berardi and also I guess a text of Baudrillards, where one of the most memorable Baudrillard quotes for me was about the Regan/ Bush years  and it was "the poor must exit", you know that's like the road sign, this lane must exit, the poor must exit. 

They're not even being reviled anymore they are simply invisible, poverty is off the table it doesn't interest us these people have no subjectivity these people aren't even a blight anymore they do not exist. Or as Barbra Bush said "Why would I bother my beautiful mind"  thinking about the torture in Iraq.  So, what you did Tao was I thought incredibly courageous and profound, given the fact that at the time you your self were a beneficiary, so it was not like you were coming to this completely outside the mix you were depending on this benefit for your own lively hood. So to turn that into,..

Tao: Well I was also…

Chris: To be both dependent on that system and so publicly expose the issues around that system, was very brave I thought because you were a participant yourself it wasn't like you had no role at all, I mean I have always thought, and Semiotext(e) my co-editors, the three of us have always thought that institutional critique is very easy when it is done by people within the institution, it's another thing altogether when somebody outside the institution is taking it on because they don't have the same…

Tao: right

Chris: legitimacy, and support to protect them.

Tao: Yes that…

Chris: I want to cut, wait can I say a few more things about why I love the project

Tao: yep, please

Chris: It reminded me also of the work of a Philosopher Simone Veil, somebody I've written on and done a lot of study on, she was a very important mid century well twentieth century activist and philosopher. She, I mean some of you probably know of Veils work but it has incredible broad scope. One of the things she did while she was teaching Philosophy in a French Lycée, and she was a Marxist who eventually had to go entirely outside politics because she so much wanted to access the experience of the industrial worker. 

She believed that the French left, made largely of professors and professional people were so utterly incapable of not only representing the experience of the workers, of the industrial worker but of even accessing it; that she spent a year, she took a year off from her Lycée professorship and she went and worked in a Renault car factory. And she wrote a book about it called A Journal of Factory Work, A Year of Fact… I mean she didn't write a book, she kept a journal that like most of her work was published post humorously. But one of the things she did while she was still teaching, she was in a little provincial town called Le Puy and it was the depression and there was a lot of legitimacy at that time for the trade unions because the trade unions and the left were so closely aligned. But there was a large group of unemployed people in Le Puy who had no presence at all. 

I mean the unemployed can't be mobilized can't be activated they can't be represented; so she lead the march of the unemployed to city hall and she was widely criticized for that. So to be a public beneficiary that's about as bad as it gets.

Tao: yeah it's..

Chris: I mean I haven't lived in New Zealand for a while, I'm just imagining, and certainly in terms of American culture. Even to collect unemployment which is you know, one state away from being on the welfare benefit, is incredibly stigmatized. So to even to engage with it as legitimate, to recognize, that there are people living this life and then to sort of say "and I am one of them", that's an incredibly important thing to bring forward.

The other thing I love about, I'm going to take all our time valorizing you Tao  (laughs)

Tao: That's not going to happen, um cause it's really important to remember that this category of unemployment is an artificial construction, it's created by the Government to solve it's "economic" problems, it's not The solution it's a very easy solution. It's this artificial construction of a group of people, to demonize, to take the eyes off the point that the system needs a different configuration. 

That I've really felt that, because of my experience as an "artist" and someone who has worked in the institution of Universities for the last; for a kind of ten year period both in and out, in and out because it's always short term contract work and as an artist you get short term contract work as well. That I would often work in factories or farming or stuff, so there was this, I was part of this circle of movement up and down the social hierarchy, and so to see, what a construction this play of "society", what a construction it is. You've really got a chorus that is just a complete fabrication, by people standing in the wings saying "right, we'll send on the unemployed people, do your role, right we'll send on the bankers, right send in all the middle"  It's just a joke, of course we all see this, but what do we do about it,

Chris: right

Tao: I had to put my body on the line and actually do this transparency thing that we all, you know.  I had to, it was too begging, it was too obvious given the times that we are in.

Chris; right, it was a kind of performative philosophy

Tao: yeah

Chris: and that's why I felt this great affinity with you, because maybe I made that term up, for myself, to just describe my work when I got all this shit about writing "I Love Dick" but it's like "Oh Yeah, that's the,… I mean

Tao: Well it's, it's,...

Chris: … that's the important thing."

Tao: It's the anchoring of all that rhetoric and all the poetry actually in the body, the body has to, it actually has to connect with what your actions actually are.

Chris: That's right. That's right and I put myself there.

Tao: Yeah, how you actually live, what function what activity do we do that puts food on our table,

Chris: right

Tao: to eat, to shit, to fuck again. That is part of these, brilliant ideas that we have, it's not a separate thing. And that is where your writing, so profoundly, well why, why I felt that I had to connect to you on Facebook, oh it's so embarrassing, but I had to. It was like you know, since as far as I can remember, in the Beats, there was no, no perspective of that, (a womans' perspective) that you brought to the table and suddenly there was that perspective, again and

Chris: right

Tao: we talked about it, that it was, that holy, the Allen Ginsberg, the holy sentence of the holy cock sucker. You know, the combination of the profane and the profound in the same sentence.

Chris: right, it's funny when I wrote "I Love Dick," I had no idea it was going to be controversial in that way I was really naive, you know,  I mean what's so shocking, what haven't we heard before. A woman leaves her husband, she has an affair, the husband knows about the affair, I mean big woop. 

Tao: yeah

And it elicited such an incredibly strong response was such a mirror for the culture conservatism of the art world. I mean I guess really,  l found out later going around with the book that what was so deeply shocking, to people was for someone to presume to do Theory, on any level at all, especially as a woman, to do theory, but then talk to about your own, god forbid, sex experience, in the first person, I mean that was just really off the map,

Tao: yeah

Chris: really off the map.

Tao: Yeah but the fact that you used the function, well, I don't want to say metaphor of S & M, in terms of the, there is a receiver and a giver and the person who is often the receiver is actually the one that is actually in the more powerful position. Because you are actually saying to this, you're actually controlling, you're actually saying to this person, "do your worst, but  I can take it".

Chris: Well, it's a tautology,

Tao: Well yeah, it all sits within a safe understanding of certain limits and rules, but I thought that, that the way you presented a vulnerability in the novel by showing…

Chris: Ah!

Tao: …you…

Chris: that wasn't "I Love Dick" that was in "Video Green" and "Aliens and Anorexia" in those two books.

Tao: ok well I have definitely fused those three books.

Chris: yeah, in "Aliens and Anorexia" and "Video Green", that's kind of,  well, shall we move and should I talk about my work a little bit,

Tao: please

Chris: In "Video Green", that came out in 04 and I had moved to L.A in 95, the book came out in 04 but the pieces were written around the same time I was writing "Aliens and Anorexia", around say, between 98 and 2002, and I found L.A after living in New York an extremely confusing and disconnected place and all the values of the art world were different from the values of the art world that I knew in New York, I had lived in the East Village forever and it was all kinda like you know, 80's early 90's blood, gore, blood splatter, cut the head off rats, H.I.V blood, like how transgressive can you be? And then I moved to L.A and it was just this incredibly sort of like post structuralist neo-minimalist formalist scene that centered around…

Tao: You called it famously "neo-conceptual corporatism", I loved that

Chris: Right!

Tao: I thought that was really nailing it.

Chris: And yet I had been invited to teach in one of the most prestigious programs  in that system, god knows why, so people sort of assumed that I knew something about it, so I started getting all these invitations to write and talk about art including a column for "Art/Text" magazine and that was where most of the "Video Green" writing came from. Four times a year, I guess quarterly, that means every three months I would have to write some essay about some, something that was happening in L.A art. And the only way I could think of doing it, because I had no  particular interest in and or training in curatorial studies or art history or art criticism per se, was to talk about my experience of the work sort of in the context of my over all experience of my life, and I was trying to figure out L.A and my place in the city and the disconnection of it. So the kind of recreational sex experiments that I was undertaking in my own life at that time, for me it was so incredibly philosophically bound with the anonymity of the city, and you know exploring this idea of surface and surface was the big buzz word at that moment in the art world, so what are we really talking about when we are talking about surface…

Tao: Yeah but, you gave a plan a map for someone like me a guy to explore what is normally a patriarchally colonized space through a feminine perspective and I thought that the fact that you were able to so sharply able to create a perspective, a position of criticality...

Chris: Right

Tao: in that position was a revelation.

Chris: (laughs) Right

Tao: We've been talking about this happening for a long time but no ones done it, suddenly it happened, you did it.

Chris: Right

Tao: but then something changed, (laughs)

Chris: ah, we'll get there in a second,

Tao: sorry

Chris: you see Tao,

Tao: what

Chris: I was very naive, you know I  thought with telling the sort of like sex stories, also I mean like sex is every where, what isn't porn, who doesn't talk about sex and dating all the time it's completely permeated in the culture, so

Tao: It's part of the sentence that is there

Chris: You know, so my idea of like recounting little anecdotes from meeting people anonymously for these kinky sex adventures, was like ok, I'll tell a little funny story from my life to kinda get peoples interest and then we'll talk about the art, it was really light and anecdotal, I mean it wasn't some kind of Papian, heavy, sort of like sacred sex kind of thing, it was just kind of a goof.

Tao: But it showed power

Chris: Right, but I had no idea people would take it so literally and so seriously, but what you were saying is that I don't do it any more, right?

Tao: Well no no, not that you don't do that (both laugh), it's not a swing of the pendulum, it's a, well, what has changed? There seemed like, I had quite a strong reaction at first, to your new book. We are talking about the latest book "Where Art Belongs" and in previous books and even in this book you talk about your economic position. It was always quite tenuous and now, in this latest book there seems to be a solidification, or a more of a security, that you've found and that's great. And but what I was interested in was that when you write about some of these artists that you are involved with there seems to be opened up a gap now between you and them. Where as previously when you were writing about the um, there were so many names, you know, a lot of the unsung heros that are in your books, there's an immediate affinity to the fact, to both their economic situation and their kind of cultural positioning in the bigger machine. And now you see yourself, do you see yourself as more of the institution and so, I'm kind of fumbling..

Chris: yeah I know exactly what you are asking me and I agree with you. I guess when I was writing "Aliens and Anorexia" and "I Love Dick I was really struggling, I was fighting my way out of paper bag of years of silence and feeling incredible repressed because of my life situation you know. Like being the younger wife of a very famous philosopher and being kind of fly on the wall observing all this stuff, but my opinions not mattering at all, so I was really kind of looking for my art heros in writing those books and finding people like Hannah Wilke, Paul Thek and Carolee Schneemann, I mean I was really looking for my spiritual guides and finding them, and these people were all dead, so it was a different kind of writing that you do about someone who is no longer alive, definitely a different kind of writing. 

When I came to write "Where Art Belongs" well first, I was no longer such an outsider. I mean I was, you know was writing in "Artforum" and "Texte Zur Kunst" and all of these much more mainstream art magazines you know and thankfully people were taking my ideas seriously and I was no longer sort of having these adventures I had a more stable domestic life, with a partner; so my situation had changed . 

And also I'm meeting these people at "Tiny Creatures", are twenty two, I was considerably older than them and I couldn't really pretend to be like that any more I mean this was not my life and so I thought the less I presumed  to know about these people when writing about them the better. And I should start as if in a blank state of ignorance and ask them to tell me what's important and just write it down. 

So that I would act as a sort of historical chronicler of these peoples experience rather than when I'm writing about Paul Thek and sort of all my dead heros, who never really had gotten their due. That was more of a blood crusade, you know, how can I get people to pay attention to these people, they were so important, it was such a crime they were over looked. But I did the ones that were most important to me and now writing about artists, it's a much more kind of anthropological enterprise, I only write about people who interest me…

Tao: yes

Chris: …for some reason but I really want to bring them out bring the person out in their own terms and in their own words and so that's the writerly thing to do that's a kind of novelist art

Tao: But with "Tiny Creatures" for example the reading you gave last night, you changed the ending to the way it is written in the book. And that's great, but can I just respond to that?

Chris: yeah

Tao: Because the idea there, well the way that I read the ending in the actual book is that, is it Sue?

Chris: Janet Kim?

Tao: Janet Kim, sorry. Janet Kim paid for this cultural experiment with her credit cards, it came to a conclusion of some sort or it went to its, it ran out of steam and fell apart and bla, ok, but,  she had recovered her creativity and was, you know, it's an on going thing, now that's how you ended the talk. In the book you end it with, it's gone completely quiet, um, and I mean this in a playful spirit, that she is now getting jobs as a curator representing "Tiny Creatures" and the idea that I read from that was this idea that now she, her effort has now been qualified by the fact that she has now created a career from it that will perhaps pay the bills. So, it was for me, it was, that was a sign of a shift from, seeing art as or the production of cultural stuff that people do as a normal activity to something that needs to be qualified as an economic, success, on going career-ism.

Chris: right, well it was just a matter of timing. When I finished the text and handed it in..

Tao: no there is, but that, I want to say that, there is this quality to your writing in this book that even though I take that kind of critical position, the whole thing is so transparent

Chris: right

Tao: that it's ironic.

Chris: yeah

Tao: yeah

Chris: well when i finished the text she hadn't gone back to curation...

Tao: You could be laughing at that, you could be going, oh now she's a success

Chris: These people, you know, I let them say what ever they wanted and they let me write what ever I wanted but they got to revise themselves like four times, I can't tell you how many times I went back and forth with Janet, to come to a final version, and that was the second to last version, when she was teaching early music and I thought that was the more beautiful ending, but in the last version somebody had asked her to curate something again and so she wanted to end with that so, ok Janet I said you could have the final cut, there you got it. But when I went around to read it I went with the more beautiful ending

Tao: It is a more beautiful ending

Chris: It is

Tao: It puts the emphasis for me back on the fact that she just wanted to do this

Chris: yeah, and in fact what she has done now is that she is back at school in…

Tao: Oh no,

Chris: .. in music.

Tao: Oh music, oh cool (audience laughs)

Chris: She accepted a fellowship to do a music M.F.A at CAL Arts, which I think is good.

But can we go back to the beneficiary for a minute. The other thing that I thought was so amazing,  was that I hadn't seen any other work from New Zealand that stretched itself out to this question that "Bifo" Berardi talks about, a lot in "The Soul At Work" this Italian Autonomia idea, of zero work. That was like Tony Negri, "Bifo" Berardi the Italian philosophers who came out of the 77 Movement in Italy, among the many things they were advocating was this policy of zero work, as in there is already too much productivity, in a late capitalist productive society, let's look at some alternative to that, instead of having a trade union movement that says more money for more work, let's just stop the whole game in it's tracks, let's have zero work.

Tao: And that's the way I looked at the benefit, as a possibility that there has always been an alternative community supported by the benefit, I love that joke about, there's no way Peter Jackson could have pulled off those movies if there hadn't been a guy sitting on the benefit for eight years making little dragons,

Chris: right

Tao: These people are, we all know them, we probably have been them, we've all written out novels on the benefit, we've been so lucky to do that. It's ridiculous that when someone draws this to the public attention, that our cultural production is massively supported by these funding bodies that we don't stick up for them, ya! I got slaughtered, I'm still being slaughtered, I'm in fucking court right now, ok

Chris: right, well you know the same was true in New York, the sort of New York that I arrived in it was the tail end of that period when artists, theater artists, film artists, visual artists everybody had some kind of little scam that they were running, in fact there were some very well known, currently well known established New Zealand artists who were in New York at the time, who were all running these little scams, to live on and how quickly people want to turn their back and forget they ever did these things and I just think that this transparency is so important to me

Tao: yeah, it's important to me

Chris: People should always be transparent about where the money comes from because the art world does everything to conceal it.

Tao: And that's…

Chris: Being an American artist, you need to be bank rolled after art school, you need someone paying your bills for ten years until you can really establish yourself as a money making artist. And where does the money come from, it comes from family money of course.

Tao: I don't have a trust fund

Chris: Neither do I Tao

Tao: Ok, but I think there is a perception out there that I am funded by some mysterious family connection, well I'm not.

Chris: But since this is the secret economic history the art world, people who don't have that support perceive themselves as failures, which of course is always the best kind of tool of capitalist/ capitalism's psychology. You know you don't have it, you're a personal failure. The money seems to be, just like invisible and to not have it, you know is your own failure to make money, your own lack, and so...

Tao: well that's the capitalist's dream

Chris:.. I've always made it a personal practice to be as clear as I can about what I am living on, where my support comes from. Because for a long time I had no means of support and it was very very precarious, and I looked at people and I was made to feel like such a failure, because it wasn't precarious for other people. So, can I read this little bit…

Tao: Yeah

Chris: out of "The Coming Insurrection", so probably some of you have read this book, right?

Tao: Nope, Oh there's one guy

Chris: We published it

Tao: two, I haven't read it.

Chris: This is an amazing book written by a group called the Invisible Committee, they were an obscure bunch of anarchists living in a french provencal village called Tarnac,  obscure until they were arrested on terrorist charges, when a commuter rail was blown up, it was a completely non violent crime of sabotage, people were late getting home by 2 hours. But the police swooped into where they were living in Tarnac, they were arrested, they were held for along time with out bail, one of the pieces of evidence against them was that they didn't have cell phones. And this is a text that they, oh one of the things that they did that I found out later that was so cool was, they didn't call themselves artists, they didn't read, what's his name, relational, I mean they weren't like sort of saying we're Baudrillard, they weren't saying we're relational aesthetics, they were just a bunch of people who did things, more in a kind of anarchist context, an anarchist political groove, maybe a theoretical groove than a gallery art world groove.  But one of the projects they did was, the store in the village had gone out of business, and they re-opened the store, it reminded me of; I don't know the details of it but it looked a lot like one of the Letting Space projects with the grocery store, and the people who had remained in Tarnac, who are mostly old retirees, all the young people left, were so grateful that now that they didn't have to go twenty kilometers to go to the supermarket, they could buy things as they'd all ways used to do in their little village. so they kind of just made them selves useful, in this community they were living in:

First circle:

I am what I am
I am what I am

This is marketing's latest offering to the world.
The final stage in the development of advertising,
far beyond all the exhortation to be different, to be oneself
and drink Pepsi.

That was a Reebok ad by the way,

Decades of concepts in order to get where we are
to arrive at the pure tautology: I equals I.
He's running on the tred mill in front of the mirror in his gym,
she's coming back from work behind the wheel of her smart car;
will they meet? I am what I am. My body belongs to me.
I am me, you are you and somethings wrong.

Mass Personalization.
Individualization of all conditions: life, work and misery.
Defuse schizophrenia.
Rampant depression,
Atomization of fine paranoiac particles,
Historization of contact.

The more I want to be me, the more I feel an emptiness.
The more I express my self, the more I am drained.
The more I run after myself, the more tired I get.
We treat our selves like a boring box office.

We become our own representatives of a strange commerce,
guarantors of a personalization that feels in the end a lot more like an amputation.
We insure ourselves to the point of bankruptcy,
for the more or less disguised clumsiness.

Meanwhile I manage.
The quest for a self, my block, my apartment, the latest fashionable crap,
relationship drama's, who's fucking who.
What ever prothesis it takes to hold on to an eye,
if society hadn't become such a definitive abstraction,
then it would denote all the existential crutches that allow me to keep dragging on.
The ensemble of dependencies I have contracted is the price of my identity,
the handicapped of the model citizens of tomorrow.
It's not with out forth-sight that the association exploiting them today,
demand that they be granted a subsistence income.

um, I think we should stop.

Tao: No!

Chris: Wait do you have a closing statement?

Tao: no, not really, Oh: "It's not the white, it's not a white cube kind of, I'm not a white cube kind of guy, I don't think you can be a white cube guy if you are an immigrant." Thats a

Chris: Jorge Pardo, yeah

Tao: from your book

Chris: Jorge Pardo

Audience: you still have ten minutes

Tao: we've still got ten minutes

Chris: Oh, we still have ten minutes, ok great. Yeah so Jorge Pardo

Tao: yeah, ok I could relate to that, I'm an immigrant and being an immigrant you don't (immediately) identify with the nationalism propaganda, advertising, the every day existence of this single body that you have to belong to and I find that there is a huge correlation between the asceticism of the clean white cube and the national fever, the abstract singular mono conception of an identity, there seems to be a correlation,  not just those, but the extremism. 

Because I belong to at least two cultures that I know of, I'm an American as well. People always ask me, well how long have you been here, as if they could  qualify my,  (laughs) my identity to how long you've occupied a space. Maybe in a similar way that numbers are tallied in occupying a gallery, well that means that we have a public?

I do think there is a correlation there that is quite interesting and the fact that this artist, is interested mostly in more social interactions and other artists and spaces, um I had some affinity with. I feel that in my own practice, I've consciously been trying to extinguish the reflex to have a show in an exhibition space. Every show I've done I've felt that that's it! I've finally killed that gag, hit me in the shin and I'll have a show.

And I thought I had done it with the show called Three Ideas for the State, which was reviewed by Mark Amery, really beautifully out of no where, suddenly gets articulated and we all want that, so I felt that I had succeeded in breaking through a crappy practice to one that was actually saying something. It happened to happen at the very moment I thought I was over with galleries, so I was really worried, well not really worried, but it  was like, you know I was grasping at straws hoping that there was going to be some other way to keep going with these ideas, but I didn't want to do them in a gallery. 

What I was really attracted to with Paul's idea of exhibition as medium, I mean that's a Marshall McLuhan idea right? We're talking about mediums have defined functions, regardless of what you throw into it, it's always going to do X. So like the television, the computer or the book it always has a predetermine out come, it has a kind of effect. That's a horrible summation of what Marshall McLuhan talks about..

Chris: yeah

Tao: but let me get to my point. The point was for me this idea that, um… damn can't remember.

Chris: yeah, you've never been a white cube kind f guy either

Tao: We no, it's not that I haven't been a white cube kind of guy, they're shops and there is always a place for selling and exchanging goods. That's great, but oh the idea of what I was on about is that a shop has a certain type of public a certain type of customer, participant. Marshall McLuhan's idea was this idea that a Newspaper, before the newspaper existed there was no idea of public, the newspaper created public by being a medium, by being a type of medium. 

The way that Bryce (Galloway) was talking about a Zine is only important in the way it creates a type of audience, it's the same deal we have with exhibitions. They create a certain type of audience and that's just what they do. Now I was really frustrated as an Artist showing in exhibitions that no one would bloody, bloody, well you know it was like being in a ghetto and you would have all this operation, this architecture and all the people going through this infrastructure saying; It's working!

Chris: You know, I think that New Zealand is very ill equipped to deal with a Dadaist act, right? The Beneficiary was a Dadaist act

Tao: it was a Dadaist act

Chris: It was an extreme position taken publicly you weren't telling anybody how to read it

Tao: I never have

Chris: the responsibility for reading it is thrown back on the audience

Tao: yuh

Chris: and it's the same thing that happened to et.al in another way in a sense unwittingly her use of her reluctance to reveal her real identity became a Dadaist act

Tao: It was a Dadaist act but I don't think she had her minders or her front people in on the game. And I feel that, accidentally perhaps, I'd love to, we you know we all do these things, and I don't want to throw judgement and blame, but they didn't…, they dropped the ball. And where as I felt my minders, horrible term, these guys went to bat for me, they took hits but they always put the emphasis back on me, this guy knows what he is doing.

Tao: right,

Chris: Yeah

Tao: and did et.al really have that? I don't think she got that opportunity; to say that she knows what she is doing and she's doing it, and she's doing it right now and..

Chris; But don't you think that like what really kind of pushed peoples buttons the most about that project and your project was that people really don't know how to read it here.

Tao: Oh they don't know how to read it anywhere, come on, this is not a localized thing , this is a world, western world wide phenomenon, the division between, um you know,  oh, such a huge topic I. It's too big I cant, it's (see Wells Group Video " Artists discussion about major fraud perpetuated by Universities" for an expansion of this idea)

(both laugh)

Chris: Yeah.

Tao: Where we at now with the time, three minutes!

Chris: yeah, um well there are a lot of things to talk about too, it's like, I don't know to me it's, it's, their trying, in the States now, to sort of you know, art historically to try and pull the American culture in to the very wide band width, of the art world. And I don't know why they are doing it.

Tao: Jerry Saltz's "A Work of Art", on television, any one seen that? There's a New Zealander in it. It's a reality TV program

Chris: yeah

Tao: you can get it on line, you can't probably see it on tv yet

Chris: But something… somethings

Tao: I'm really excited about it, demystify this bloody church that we are all involved with, it's a joke. Sorry damn

Chris: laughs

Tao: shut up, shut up.

Chris: somethings that were very kinda clear, as a kind of performative cultural actions, were very hard to read in the the art world. And so now it's kind of, you know, now it's gotta be, it's,.. it's trying to be kind of pulled into a art historical discourse.

Tao: ok

Chris: and anyway I think we should stop there

Tao: yeah

Chris: there's more to say about this.

Tao: I've dug my hole, thanks guys

Chris: thank you

(audience claps)











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