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Question 7: Did you develop a personal technique in the use of these media? If so, how would you describe it?
Of all the questions, that’s the one that makes me think the most because lately there was a fairly long period when I didn’t have a studio. So my work was kind of sporadic; it was rather: Ah a group show, I have to do something, really. It’s a good thing there were group shows, damn, cause without them I wouldn’t have worked at all, probably. But now I have my studio, a super studio, I’m so happy to find art again. But now it’s like I’m starting over, and I’m trying to understand my process, to a degree. Comes a time when it’s critical to think and to provide an answer. If I were to describe my process right now, it’s not the same description I would have given five years ago. Five years ago, I would often name philosophers, and I’d be doing some “heart speak” but now I see myself as a collector. When I think about my work, my work has always been done that way. I am obsessed with taking photographs; I constantly take pictures. I’ve always followed a rule. It was to produce one roll per week, period, before Monday morning. On Sunday evenings, I would put a film in the camera and I would go walk my dog and then I had to use up my film within 10 to 15 minutes, but I got it done. End result was that I realized that what I liked to do was simply to collect samples and set up a collection as blindly as possible. Not in terms of composition that is, because I totally love to create nice compositions, but blindly because I would totally democratize the subjects. Dog poop, and a 1000-dollar bill; no difference to the photographer, in my view. So it was perfectly democratic, and then, of course, after a while, you end up with boxes full of photos. I started going through my boxes of photos, to put them together. Can’t do otherwise, since I’m the one who took all those photographs; all of them are along the same mood, going through your head. Sometimes, you’re happier, sometimes not as much, but the basis is always probably similar. So, the photograph that I took of the 1000-dollar bills, the photograph that I took of the dog poop, they have something in common. I find that what I like doing is to find two photographs I want to be together. Now I have to fill the empty space between the two and that’s what I call my process, it’s to fill the spaces between two things. So, usually, it’s either a contradiction I’m trying to bring to light or to clarify, or a metaphor that I find interesting or funny. When I’m asked why I do art, the answer is almost always that it’s because I can’t write. So I look for writers’ mechanisms, mechanisms that will allow me to create sequences of images. I want them to work like poetry. In poetry, we allow ourselves to compare hair to the side of a ship but for some reason or other if I take a picture of a nice head of hair and the side of a nice ship and I put the two photographs one next to the other, people will ask: why? Yet, we don’t question the poet; we say: Ok the poet did this, what does it mean? So I am trying to create sequences of photographs where people will stop asking why and will simply accept. The artist has created this sequence of comparisons and now it is up to me to do a little work, to see the journey the author is trying to take me on. So, really I’m doing poetry, I find that my approach, in terms of my research, is almost exclusively literary. As an artist, I don’t like art all that much, but that’s probably a bit of jealousy, competition if you will. When I see how popular some people like Matthew Barney or that bunch are, it pisses me off, and I feel insulted because I don’t think his work is all that great; mine’s better than his. There’s that kind of jealousy and I don’t want to be part of that. So I will call myself an author, it’s much easier that way. My approach works that way because as far as I am concerned it’s a comfortable position for me to work in. I love reading. That’s something I’ve always enjoyed but I never could do myself: the connection between the idea and my writing hand just didn’t happen. I practice it, I write a diary: no, it’s not there, so that’s what photography has become. My approach is really becoming the approach of the literary being because it’s basically research and observation; it’s simply being in an environment and trying to truly understand how I fit in. Am I being a detached observer, am I part of the action? And then, trying to describe that stuff with photographs. Not necessarily to photograph the activity, that would become too superficial, pretentious really, but to take photographs in those moods and then to look at them again. So, just as it was 10, 15 years ago when I was a student, I was unremitting, I had an idea, a concept and then I would reach for books, I would do my research; I’d look things up: ok, symbols work this way. Now I let my intuition work a whole lot more. I’m not comfortable saying this openly because I teach visual arts and when a student comes and tells me that he works from intuition I tell him: Work a little harder. I’m always afraid to be doing the easy thing; so I’m constantly creating challenges, making my life not easy. Cause it’s easy to work from intuition, we’re all geniuses. It’s a matter of confidence. Once we have confidence, we can be any genius we want to be. I always want it to be work, I want it to always present challenges; so that’s the line I’m working with, so if that’s what an approach is, ok then.