On a Knife’s Edge
INTERVIEW, in Új Muvészet, July 2000 Q.: Could you assign yourself to any specific trend? Which Hungarian or foreign artists are closest to you?
A.: My life has been sort of nomadic in the last few years, that is why I have joined none of the local artists’ colonies. I was moving between various cultures, was able to see the same things from various aspects, so my experiences are most likely different from those who work in their accustomed environment. But I feel an intellectual affinity with many artists and am able to pick up the dialog where we left off.
In Holland and France it was English sculpture that roused my interest most of all, but I also discovered a New York artist named Tom Friedman. I like to the work of Fischli and Weiss, and feel an affinity toward Andreas Slonimski, who changes the function of objects in a way that has nothing to do with pragmatism of any kind. You see, I also set up a complete heating system in a gallery only to use the rising air to make a fan spin.
Q.: Are the pieces you exhibit at U.F.F. Gallery completely new, or do they have a history?
A.: My art keeps gushing forth again and again like an underground stream and is constantly renewed in time and space. One precursor is the installation I did in Vienna ten years ago (Dam-working by electricity, WUK), then there are my installations that use pipes, pumps and water. And my piece with the candles moving a twelve-kilo fan belongs in this category too.
Q.: Do you have a persistent creative method? Do you conceive of the form or the idea first?
A.: I don’t know if I have a creative method. My friend Fiona Tan said recently that my works emanate an intangible lightness, as if things were put next to each other by chance but still give rise to a new and functioning quality. She asked me whether my creative work really comes so easily. I was reminded of Chaplin, who would retake a complete scene if he didn’t think the details looked effortless enough.
Q.: Like in the Blind Flower Girl.
A.: Yes. I probably haven’t reached that degree of consistency yet, but I fuss around with some things for years, I forget about them and then take them up again. I often think that there is a single solution so I always want to change it, especially if one adapts one’s concept to the context of the exhibition and not the given space.
That’s when I’m walking on a knife’s edge.
But I don’t work with the medium or against the medium, I am really interested in the space between the mediums.
You remember my photo of a candle whose flame does not cast a shadow, which I have recreated many times. Looking at an earlier version someone suggested I should look at the candle photos of Richter. He does it differently, though, he makes a model, a photo, on which he heaps layers of various mediums. I can’t get around this sort of meditative process with all the lessons it provides, but I am more interested in how you can get down to the essence most directly. It doesn’t matter whether the idea of form was first, they are both the same.
Q.: Your objects are closed systems, almost all of them display the completeness of the circle and the problem of balance. Does your work convey a moral, philosophical message, beyond the strictly artistic problems it solves? What are the leading motifs with which you intend to hold your exhibition together?
A.: Maybe it comes through in what I said before, that I don’t assign my art any direct content that could be expressed in another way, the pieces don’t mean anything. What I try to do is to create such a void or situation which is thought provoking. So if I show circular shapes or closed systems, that is not interesting for the very rich semiotic message of the circle-which it inherently has anyway-but because of the context into which I am able to place it, how it appears, how I can generate a situation in which anybody can discover his own story, what happened to completeness, how we ruin it, how hopeless our relationship is towards holistic things, and so on. How you can make money without working by locking coin-operated shopping carts into each other in a circle (Money-make systems 2): with its UFO shape it draws your imagination to the sky, nevertheless. The pipes and pumps are also falsification tools, with which I want to underline the “metaphysical frailty of objects.” That I don’t have a utilitarian purpose in making my fans move is again something that can be seen as a gesture on my part, which calls every-day logic into question. But my candle photo I made with a Platonist passion, and the piece has since taken on its own life. So much so that I am able to look at it objectively myself and think of new meanings all the time.
I could also tell you about my screwing tables-which act in Hungarian is called “brushing”-and they actually owe their existence to the cultural differences between Holland and Belgium, but that’s another story.
Q.: How deliberate is the puritan, unfinished quality of your objects? Does the fact that your surfaces are unfinished bring you closer to the ideas behind the objects?
A.: I recently saw a Pistoletto, two tons of rags and a sculpture of Venus facing the wall. Well, that was slapped together. I could polish my board that pushes the ring against the wall, I wouldn’t mind the time, but I don’t see why that would make it any better. I worked a lot on the two tables. I struggled quite a bit with the proportions and the movement of the smaller table. When it finally rocked the way I wanted it, well, that was as good as an orgasm.