Art Press : 2020-04-20

INTERVIEW : 35 : 35


35 interview your common work ultimately consist in refusing to situate yourself, and hasn’t it also, in this sense, anticipate­d a number of contempora­ry practices? tity, which still functions today. We had to create a holding company capable of generating subsidies. We learned to work with banks to obtain funds. It wasn’t with the sale of objects, which incidental­ly were selling poorly, except perhaps in Germany thanks to my gallery owner Alfred Schmela, that we could achieve what we wanted to do. We’d met Leo Castelli in Paris in June 1962 on the occasion of the and for sure he embodied for us the “American dream”. Imagine that we then had a room at the Chelsea Hotel, where I decided to make my first (5), and that I was able to participat­e in a group exhibition with Richard Artschwage­r, Bob Watts and Alex Hay, and that I saw the world effectivel­y and practicall­y opening up to us when the Hirshhorn Museum bought one of these first We couldn't go back. We wanted to go further, mentally and physically. But, how to do it, if not by giving ourselves the legal structure that would allow us to achieve it. Why?That’s another matter… I think JeanneClau­de and I went through life in the name of a principle of pleasure that led us to constantly challenge the contexts we were addressing. There is pleasure in living a life full of “real things”, more than to be satisfied with the illusions of representa­tion. There is pleasure getting the better of a German chancellor like Helmut Kohl, in 1995, after twenty-four years of efforts – the Reichstag, in a way, is six successive chancellor­s! To cross swords in New York with the mayor of the city until a new one, Michael Bloomberg, gave permission for the in 2005… And I could talk about the Pont-Neuf, in 1985, the oldest bridge in Paris. The first preparator­y drawings for this project date back to 1975 and we spent more than a million francs at the time, and used more than 40,000 square metres of canvas, 13,000 metres of rope and twelve tonnes of steel chains, and came up against, to say the least, many rejections until certain people, such as Michel Boutinard-Rouelle (6), understood our intentions and help us to carry out the project. Jeanne-Claude was revolution­ary! She understood that the world could exist without us, but that these projects would reveal a thousand things about our world and the society in which we strive to live. What we were looking for and what I strive to continue today with my team is to constantly free ourselves from all the social, administra­tive and technical barriers that we may encounter. We wanted to do something that no one could buy or copy. We wanted to discover and explore the world, in all its components and in all its forms. Each project has an extraordin­ary story and really finds its reality outside of the art world. We liked real things, real fears, real dramas ... In our projects, there are two aspects. One that I call software: drawings, models, discussion­s, people who have to be convinced and sometimes even who vote, as in Germany, where the Reichtag project was voted on in Parliament! And then the hardware: the realizatio­n, the real problems, the dramas ... There are people who have to be dismissed, there are often inextricab­le and very physical situations, which we learn, over time, to get out of. So the categories of art history aren’t really subjects that threaten us! Nature, for the Valley Curtain (7), where the winds blew at more than a hundred kilometres an hour, threatened us more than the aesthetic movements that you evoke.The artificial barrier connecting the earth to the sea and the sky of the Running Fence, in California, which was built by chance on the day of the death of Mao Tse-Tung and perceived as a metaphor for the arbitrarin­ess of geopolitic­al borders, revealed to us things beyond what we imagined ... Perhaps this is the subject of our work. Iron Curtain Store Front store fronts! But then, how and why did you do all this, when you know that unlike the architect, who builds with the hope that the thing remains, your projects are, by their nature, ephemeral and dedicated to memory alone or to all the preparator­y works carried out? How and why? These are two questions that, throughout my life, I’ve never stopped asking myself and to which I cannot provide a definitive answer. Jeanne-Claude and I understood that as soon as we wanted to develop our projects, we’d have to invent a specific structure. In New York, as early as 1964, we, with the help of a lawyer close to our friend Bill Copley, developed a legal en- Gates Translatio­n: Chloé Baker (1) The Algiers putsch of May 13, 1958 marked the return to power in France of General de Gaulle, in an insurrecti­onal context linked to government instabilit­y during the Algerian War. (2) Garry Davis (1921-2013) was a peace activist. In 1948 he created the World Citizens Movement and, in 1954, the organizati­on World Service Heritage. (3) City in central Bulgaria. (4) William Rubin (1927-2006) chief curator of the MoMA department of paintings and sculptures from 1969 to 1973, then director until 1988. (5) The (1964) are occultatio­ns, covering with paper or fabric the interior of shop windows. (6) Michel Boutinard-Rouelle was cultural advisor to Prime Minister from 1986 to 1988, then director-general of cultural affairs for the City of Paris from 1988 to 1989. (7) Valley Curtain was a work produced in Rifle, Colorado, from 1970 to 1972. Inaugurate­d on August 10, 1972, the orange nylon curtain (12,783 m², 381 m wide and 111 m high), had to be removed due to very strong wind. The history of art, of which I know both the ambition and the limits, isn’t sure where to “situate” you. Sometimes New Realists, you are sometimes found on the side of conceptual art, even land art, labels that you and Jeanne-Claude had never liked. Doesn’t Store Fronts Cette page, de haut en bas / this page, « Surface d’empaquetag­e ». 1958. Peinture, laque, sable sur tissu tendu par des cordeaux sur cadre en bois. 158 x 102 x 7 cm (Coll. part. ; Ph. © W. Wolz [Archives Christo]). 1963. Polyéthylè­ne, ficelle, chariot de supermarch­é, divers objets. 105 x 78 x 42 cm. (© et Ph. Annely Juda Fine Art, Londres). from top: « Chariot de supermarch­é empaqueté ». Packed Supermarke­t Cart

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