Anonymous on Sat Apr 21 00:08:24 2001

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DD: Related to this idea, why do big name artists like Bruce Naumann or Kiki

AD: One old, one young...

DD: ....never exhibit in places like Sofia?

AD: It's a problem of the system, its a problem of the institutions....The
politicians must understand that art is important for the people, visual
arts are important for the people.  For smaller institutions it's not a
matter of a lot of money to invite someone like Bruce Naumen, or
Michelangelo Pistoletto...It's not necessary to have a lot of money, but it
is necessary to work in a good direction, in a quality direction that
creates continuity in exhibitions.  [Sofia] can become an art center...[For
example,] every year one master and three young artists [could] visit from
other countries and make one or two group shows.  Over time, Sofia could
become a center with other cities [in the region] like Sarajevo, now with
its new contemporary art exhibits, or Belgrade before the war.  [These]
cultural centers work [could flourish if] the critics, the artists, the
politicians, and the institutions are strong.  They must be strong, stronger
than [in Western Europe]....

DD:  Relating directly to big artists like Damien Hirst -- you can see them
in New York, London, Budapest
-- so you have artists moving between centers like the Guggenheim Museums
and the White Cube in London.    Why doesn't an artist like this say to
himself or herself:  my work as an artist would receive -- (and I know this
as a fact -- if suddenly Damien Hirst were in a museum in Cairo or Damascus
or even here in Sofia) -- a radically different response that perhaps
changes me and my work. Yet you don't see this, you don't see Damien Hirst
or any strong Western artist in Addis Ababa, in Cairo, or Sofia... they
don't think in these terms.

AD: David, I think this is the direction.  The new direction is not like
before with New York at the center, Berlin and London and Paris [at the
center].   The intelligent artists are fascinated to exhibit in Cairo, in
Katmandu; these are not "exotic" locations.  This puts the artist in the
center of a global cultural situation.  It is important to start recognizing
this change in relation to the entire world, not just an Eastern/Western
European context.  We now have artists participating in Africa, at the
biennales of Dakar and Johannesburg,  in Taiwan, in Korea.... all of these
are changing the 'center'.  We can longer be afraid of [what has
traditionally been referred to as]...marginal art; the idea of a 'center' is
now terminated at the border. And the older, famous artists know this!

DD: To take this one step further, if there are artists, intelligent artists
that not only see the advantage of exhibiting in the Cairo Biennale or in
Johannesburg, but also would be willing, if the support was available to
work in these say I am leaving the West for one year.

AD:  Yes, invite an artist they will come.  I know in the next
spring Pistoletto will have a solo exhibition in Sarajevo...

DD:  He'll do the work there?

AD: Yes, there. Pistoletto is the oldest and most important artist in Italy
from the Arte Povera (Art Poor) group.  So you create this relation
give him a studio for an exhibition and an environment with local critics.
The young artists can meet the master artist, participate in a workshop.  It
is easier to do this with big name artists than younger artists.

DD: Do you feel that it would change the work of the big artist?  Is being
in Sarajevo for 3 months going to change something?

AD:  It's a big experience if you live and work in another country.

DD:  I was wondering, if you are in a place like this, if you are in Sofia
where the average wage is $100/month and you are living in the ghetto, and
you are a big artist what does this do?  Does it politicize art?  Diego
Esposito was here and I talked a little about the place of politics and art
and he backed off [from this idea] a bit.  I almost felt he thought it could
corrupt the art -- that the politicalization of art, if it is not responded
to well, corrupts art...

AD: I don't know where to start. There is the example of the Istanbul
Biennale where for the first time in an Islamic country there exists the
continuity of a third Biennale with many people in attendance.  They invited
me to the opening, but I did not go because it was just after the
earthquake.   There was a Swiss curator and many artists were happy to
attend the opening [even under these circumstances].  Problems about Islam
are the same as [problems about] Catholicism and some artists will respond
to these issues, but this is not the big problem.  The real problem is
political.  The visual arts are important for the people, and do not require
a lot of money but just enough to organize a new system, not the same as our
system [in the West].

DD:  What would this include -- the new system?

AD:   I think the new system is in relation with the people.

DD:  The people on the street?

AD:  Yes, the people on the street.  The people that can't understand, the
people that don't go to the museum, that don't go to the gallery, the people
that are outside of the visual arts. I think that the artists in this epoch
now have a big responsibility because they can understand 'the other'; they
have a new sensibility about the world and their [ideological] place in it.

DD: I went to the exhibit [at XXL] that Esposito curated, and invited an 82
year-old woman who had never seen this kind of work before, it was a radical
experience for her.  She had never seen this kind of art and called it
communistic -- but that's okay, it's good.  And perhaps this is the failure
of the old art system, that it is elitist and keeps people like her out.

AD:  Elitist, it is true.  The art in our system is far from the people.

DD: So is art criticism, it is far from the people. The people who read your
work are students, artists and other critics.

AD: Students and artists and other critics, it's's true.

DD: So how do we get your work to be more popular?

AD:  We are not popular like music or football champions, yes it's true.  In
another epoch the people knew the artist; all the people knew Giotto,
Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Rubens, not only the Prince of Florence or the King
of France.... now it is far from the people.  The problem is that art very
often is a production for elites, it's true.  Yet, at the same time there
are examples from art history where you have some artists that make
something approachable.  Maybe artists have the possibility of entering the
system and changing the system.  It is difficult but we must.

DD: When you come back to Sofia are you suggesting that it would be valuable
for you to participate in lectures not only for artists and gallery people,
but also to lecture non-artists?  Is there a way for you to discuss Beuys to
the common people?

AD:  It's my privilege.   When I came here for this lecture they asked me to
speak about [Beuys'] intellectual life, his work in a museum, about Fluxus.
But no, I want to speak about the last moments of his life...its
philosophical from the roots of romanticism.  He engaged many changes in the
70s and 80s.  He understood many things before the others.  [He was
concerned about issues beyond art, associated with society.]  In 1977 [he
and his peers] dialogued for 100 days in Documenta VI in Kassel; it was free
discussion about the world, about immigration, the global economy, about
money, about nature, about all the big problems that after 20 years all the
people of the world have.

DD: Is there a contemporary artist who also shares a similar philosophical
basis as Beuys? Is there an artist who has the same sensitivity?

AD: No, not in the same an another way.

DD: Like what?

AD: In the what they do.  You have some artists who work in this
direction, but it is not the same direction as Beuys.  I think the problem
is not only with the artists but in man's creativity.  You can never feel
this [creativity among] the economists, the financiers, in medicine.   But,
in my opinion, the artists in this epoch are not the only artists.

DD: Who else are the artists?

AD:  The problem is that the artist is closed inside the 'system of art'.
But, the creativity comes also from bigger organizations: I think the
creativity is in Amnesty International, in Greenpeace, in the Red Cross.  I
think this is where the big creativity rests in mankind.  The artist can
also help these organizations, and I hope in the future they can work

DD: Do you feel there is a failure among Western artists?

AD: In my opinion yes.  This is not the popular opinion, but it is my

DD: Amnesty International has said that although democracy is growing there
are still more political prisoners today than 30 years ago...and poverty is
increasing in the world.... more adults are living in poverty than anytime
history...there seems to be a lack of sensitivity to the world at large
among artists.  Many artists in America deal with personal psychosis and
neurosis.  Maybe there is an African AIDS exhibit in Milan about this...this
engagement [with crisis...but it does seem to be rare].

AD:  Every artist in the history of art has a new 1967
when I was young, when I was very young, at 17, my brother brought me to an
exhibition near my city.  It was the first Arte Povera (Art Poor) exhibition
I saw in Italy by an action artist [and installation].  For me, my only art
before this exhibition was the art of Van Gogh, Mondrian, Gauguin.  When I
saw this I didn't understand, but I was fascinated by it.  I had the same
experience with theater when my brother brought me for an happening  by
Julian Beck and Judith Malina - The Living Theatre - was Paradise Now in
Naples.  So, if you give people another sensitivity you create new
responsibilities for the artist.  Not all artists will change, maybe only
one, two, or three.  It's like putting a kernel of corn in the earth, and
later waiting for the plantation.

DD: Ah, the mustard seed.

AD: But if you don't give anything, if you don't speak about anything, if
you don't give information about the new sensitivity in this
have only McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken, this becomes our culture.

DD: In Milan what percentage of artists' art is just a reflection of this
McDonald's idea...where it seems their creativity has been decapitated?

AD: I think it is not about this...we live in a moment of big struggle
between the people who believe in another way and those that stay seated in
the old way.  Now in Italy you have one old area of the art system that
remains the main street of power, but at the same time, from about 4 to 5
years ago, a new system ...not underground...has begun to change traditional
relationships.  This new group does not defend [the idea of] the artist and
critic working in relation to the collectors, the politicians:  the big
money is like a mafia...but I refuse to enter into [this mafia].  I am free.
It is difficult for me to work in Italy.  It is easier for me to work
anywhere in the world other than Italy....It is true, it is true.  I can
work in Korea, Lisbon, maybe Istanbul,  in Cairo, in Armenia, in Spain, or
here in Sofia much easier than in Milan.  Sometimes we have an opportunity
to enter into the big system and we enter.  Last year I organized a big
exhibit of an artist/designer -- one of the oldest in Italy in an
[important] museum of Milan - the Triennale sometimes I am able
to enter the traditional venues.  This is happening more and more and
represents a big change in Italy.  Even older institutions like the Venice
Biennale are impacted.....Men like Harald Szeemann are very important for
the Italian system because the people can understand the system in another
way, not only way from the political powers defined by capitalism.  It is a
large change.   I was happy when Harold Simmons arrived in Venice. is the same for the directors of museums, the journalists...they
do not change...they do not understand anything about contemporary art.
They do not give out new information [that would provoke change].  There is
a strong system here that comes from the Communist era; similarly in Italy
we have Democratic Christians....they came from the Fascists...its the same
thing [here in Sofia] and Italy.

DD: Do you feel people like Diego Esposito should exhibit in Sofia?

AD:  I hope that he can because he has a vision very open to the East.  He
is one of the more important artists who possesses an open mind.  Diego has
worked in Istanbul, Venice, Athens....he looks to the East. And also in the
work [you can see] his vision of the East.  But I know very well for him it
is very important to work in Sofia, to look around here, and later exhibit
here....he is not an artist that carries his work from the studio [in

DD: If we called you, you would come and criticize this work?

AD: If Diego asked me, yes.  I have organized for Diego an exhibit next year
in a museum in Korea.  They go and stay for two months with local material,
and then exhibit.

DD:  It is an opening [away from the center].

AD: The artists can give a lecture at the academy, they can work in the
place that they exhibit.  It is not a packet that is made in the West; the
art is made in the place. All the world now is a place. Everywhere.

DD: Thank you.

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