Talking to Tania
|Richard Layzell – Talking to Tania 5|
Day 5 • 7 April 2005 • New York
RL Bit of a strange night and morning
RL I sat up late watching a DVD recording of Paul's one hour TV interview on PBS. It went out in February.
TK He sounds like a high achiever
RL That’s an understatement. The pundit said things like “your curiosity knows no bounds” and kept referring to his knighthood and him being a Nobel Laureate. I guess they like those titles over here.
TK An entertaining hour’s viewing? I watched Desperate Housewives last night.
RL I don’t know how to describe it. This dream interviewee was my old friend from Perivale. I could see him becoming a national figure, the Stravinsky of science, New York’s favourite émigré. So I woke with a renewed sense of urgency and ready to crack the day, the project and another International Cleaning.
TK Ready to achieve. How are we approaching this today? It was easy-going with the return of the old categories for Day 4.
RL Any ideas?
TK Always. Give me a minute.
RL Silence… and its role in the dialogue…
TK We could focus on issues rather than events.
RL You mean…
TK Let’s cut to the essence of Day 5 and knock it around a bit.
RL International Cleaning?
TK Sure, but doesn’t need to be chronological.
RL This one was camera led. I thought about the shot for a couple of days, Queens Bridge in the background, best around Yorke Ave and 81st St. The video came first, as in Bangkok.
TK What’s wrong with that?
RL Ask Ivan, as the performer he thinks that’s the essence of the work, doesn’t understand this emphasis on documentation.
TK It’s always gone hand in hand. Ignore him. He’s not the artist. This is an interesting work, Richard, and getting better, now entering its fifth year, Year 5. How will they fit into the installation? I’d like some input.
RL Whatever you think.
TK Ivan appears in all of them, right? How many are there now?
RL New York, Brooklyn, Providence, three in Bangkok, two in Prague, Brisbane, Perth, Barcelona, Madrid, Frankfurt, three in Skyros, Singapore, Venice, Lillehammer (in the café), that’s 19. Poland to come.
RL Only talked about on audio—Simon’s Mother for Wish You Were Here.
TK And they all make a visual impact?
TK And they last, what, two minutes each?
TK So how we show them in the installation is crucial. They have to be visually engaging or within an interesting framework or I don’t want them in.
RL Is this because they pre-date our dialogues?
TK They’ve actually been a part of recent dialogues. Even in Skyros in August we returned to the Brooke statue because of a cleaning there the year before. I actually think you’d lost interest in the project till I came along. They’d tailed off. The dialogues have re-invigorated them. And they had a place in the Room of Freeflow so far as I know.
RL Would you like some input into, say, a London series?
TK Maybe. I’m more concerned about our installation and how they’ll be shown.
RL Any ideas?
TK In a clean space, minimal. On four screens. Projected on the floor. In a domestic setting. As a compilation interspersed with blanks and silence. Projected onto a series of objects, architectural. It could even be a centrepiece.
TK We should keep talking about it.
TK You won’t get me cleaning. So, any other issues today?
RL Art and shopping.
TK Nice. Money?
RL Not consciously. I was trying to spend money in a department store that Joshua recommended.
TK What’s the issue here?
RL It wasn’t until I overheard a shop assistant talking about how he was on the early shift that morning that I realised the store was right next to Ground Zero. I’d come in from a side entrance.
TK Shopping and death.
RL I was pretty melancholic. It only got easier when you chose an unlikely shirt.
TK But I wasn’t there.
RL It was what you represented: an intuitive process. Later I had lunch in a nearby sushi bar run by Indians and filmed people passing by. This mix of age, size, background and ethnicity must have been a sample of those killed. I wept a little.
TK Is the issue your emotions or intuition?
RL We haven’t talked much about emotions previously.
TK Have you been scared to?
RL I don’t know, I guess I’ve avoided it.
TK Art and feelings.
RL You don’t express emotions in your art.
TK Don’t talk rubbish.
RL Not obviously.
TK Of course. I bet you didn’t film yourself weeping in the sushi bar.
RL Only a bit.
TK And will you use that sequence?
RL I’m not sure it was convincing, might look contrived.
TK That’s my point. No need to overstate. Emotional content is bound up with the autobiographical for me. It’s out there like a Press story. Or it’s subliminal, like sublime. I think your position is more confused. You allude to emotion, you exploit it, you think it’s substance just by revealing it.
RL I don’t know what you’re basing all this on, although I guess performance has been an emotional form for me, even an emotional outlet. But not recently.
TK What about The Perfect Day or Eleanor’s Falcon?
RL Ok, but I abandoned that piece.
TK And performed it last year. Was the emotional content an issue?
TK So it’s useful to talk about this.
TK Reluctant agreement then. Like getting blood out of a stone. Let’s go back to the sushi bar.
RL Or the other issue of the day.
TK Too close for comfort?
RL For now.
TK That’s what I’m here for. Not letting you off the hook for the final issue.
RL I think it’s more straightforward and more complex.
TK I’m intrigued.
RL It’s relevant for us both.
TK Am I guessing?
RL No, I’m trying to find a way to express it.
TK My coffee’s getting cold.
RL Well sip it. I think you’ll like this one.
TK Go on
RL It’s about art, museums and galleries.
TK Big topic
RL I’ll narrow it down. To be honest, I didn’t respond to the new Museum of Modern Art and I’m not sure you would have.
TK An off day, trying to cram too much in?
RL It was about consumption and representation. I felt it wasn’t my world. I know we’re aiming to work in galleries but this experience left me cold. And there was something almost comical about the Scupture Court, with its fairly desultory collection arranged amongst seating. The yellow Caro was going rusty. The security guard's posture was as interesting as the objects.
TK What are you driving at?
RL I’m not sure. I just wanted to share it with you, get your response.
TK I don’t know what I’m responding to yet. You went to a big art museum and it left you cold. So what? Are you disillusioned with art or something?
RL With a certain kind of packaging and consumption.
TK One that I aspire to?
TK Now I get it. Well, we’ll have to agree to differ on this one, or the whole project’s in jeopardy. What about the Whitney, did you go there?
RL Yes, it was a better experience but I still had a lingering detachment.
TK The only way to move forward on this is to put a positive spin on it. Or take an objective position from a place of supreme confidence. Think of it as a dream that you’re trying to interpret. And focus on the art process you engaged with yourself in New York. Maybe you were actually the frenetic consumer on this occasion, and that was the problem. But we should come back to this.
RL No choice.