Select a number to view video excerpt and read transcript
Question 20: In reflecting on your overall production, what are your thoughts on your work as an artist?
I look at it and I tell myself: For almost 30 years I have consistently produced art, I’ve been able to overcome the forecast that people had about me: Oh, you’re going to do this for awhile then you will quit. I overcame the idea from the public that says: you got to sell your work, there has to be a commercial side to it, things have to roll. As though you were making a saleable product and all that; that I overcame. I overcame the idea of the gallery, the compartment where pieces are exhibited. I’ve seen some small galleries, medium size ones, large ones, all kinds of people in them, some with some understanding, others without. I’ve really seen all of the aspects of that system. I see my pieces, my work, as a system of its own. But everything that gravitates around this is also system; what we call the art world, with its people, its way of thinking, of talking, what to say, what not to say, whom to say it to, whom not to say it to, and so on. The social side of the art world, we have to approach it as a system, something that operates. It might work well, it might not. We could stand it working better sometimes. So you have to look at the variables, the different levels that we get and then try to come up with an objective and personal judgment on this thing. So that’s it, the work I do is work that I consider to be interesting, otherwise I would not be doing it. Like the majority of human beings, I’m lazy. I’m not going to put any effort into something if I don’t get something at the other end of the it that will give me a…well…I don’t mean income, I don’t mean recognition, or something basically concrete and objective. It’s more like something I find in my soul or in my sensitivity. So, that’s about it, I operate within a system that can be compared to other systems: the political system, the school system, this system, that system. It has its own rules, its own way of operating; I have to operate in it. But I’ve always wanted to keep some distance and to be able to look at it with a…well not a cynical eye, I don‘t want to laugh at it either, but it’s like playing cat and mouse, to say: That stuff, we’ll let them do it, I don’t have to get involved doing that. Sometimes, you can get involved in something maybe too much, depends…but it’s a matter of give and take as well, a question of yin and yang, just as important. The things we don’t see, the things that are not as obvious, are as important as the stuff that’s always there, things we start taking for granted sometimes. But I think the essential thing is to look at it as a system. The system will always be around. There will always be artists within it, and artists on the outside. A little while back, we were talking about artists who might have influenced me or about types of art that might have influenced me. I’m much attached, right now, to what is called “art brut”. It’s not even naive art, it’s even lower on the ladder, at the bottom of the barrel you might say. In the sense that these people, who do this art stuff, are motivated by reasons other than what the system is dictating: You artists, you have a social function, you have to do this, to show us your lives, have to show us what you have to tell us about this, how you feel your environment, yourselves. Then again, I think that these artists do it for entirely different reasons. It’s a bit of a letdown when you see this stuff and you say well it’s possible those art pieces might be – because it’s the art pieces, done by these people, that remain – it’s possible the “raison d’être” of these pieces will not always match our expectations, as an observer, I’m not talking as an artist but as an observer from the street who walks into a gallery and who sees something. Not all human concerns are the same way… We have ways to approach or to see things that can be expressed through the art that we do, and be the reasons for doing it, but circumstances can be different too. Someone who operates in a system such as, well I don’t know, Jeff Coombs, we know that in 5 years he’ll be around because that’s how the process goes. But other things… they might find pieces by some lady, and nobody on earth ever saw them until she had been dead for ten years. So it makes us question somewhat as to what an art piece is, what is the function of a piece of art how we should approach the existence of this stuff that enlightens us but that can also intimidate us.