Dear Eitan,

 

 

In the meantime we have moved and your little sculpture is still in a drawer. Maybe there is no connection, but let me try to explain.

It all has to do with the question what a work of art can do, what its role or effect can be. I turn to the field of art in public space because I know more about that and also because I think that the difference with art in the private sphere in this case is not that big. One of the standard reproaches towards art in public is that it is tailored to the taste of the common public. In other words, instead of being completely autonomous, a product of the deep inner self of the artist, it compromises with the clichés of general preference. Opposite of this the artists and the supporting organisations working in public space often claim an almost guerrilla-like effect of art. The artwork is in their eyes supposed to undermine the common experience of a certain location, add another way of looking at the world, or just generally disturb the normal behaviour.

Interesting is that both these claims are false. Interesting is also that you work with both claims in your work. You visit people as a tailor, to measure their needs, you interview them, and then you make them a work of art that nestles as a strange body, as a virus in the house of the owner. In your case both claims are right. Even in the private interior the work of art remains a strange entity, no matter how familiar it will be to us. But to get this feeling of ‘unheimlichkeit’ we have to love it first.

The feeling that things of people that we think we know or own are suddenly strange to us, is one of the basic points of departure for art and for surrealistic art more in particular. It is a feeling that is related to the human control of the world, and you could say that the role of the work of art as a strange body comes into being in the beginning of the nineteenth century when controlling the world becomes the way of life. So, the work of art always represents a world that is ours, it appeals to out taste, it reflects our wellbeing and status, and at the same time it always belongs to another world, a world that may be the world of the artist, but even that is not certain. It is this effect of art that makes everything common uncommon, and that at the same time denies us our uniqueness and turns us into something common among the world of things.

This effect however requires a very precise balance. When working in public space for instance the element of estrangement can not be predominant: the work cannot disturb our view of the world right away, because in that case we will not accept it. So the artist has to make sure that he speaks a language that can be understood, that his image has roots in the world of people that know nothing about art. On the other the work cannot comply with the general taste either, because it then becomes as invisible as most advertisements are to us. The work has to have the quality to make us like or love it, and at the same time puzzle or amaze us.

Working for the individual and the particular situation of the private home, you do not have the same problem, but it is comparable. And in some cases I guess the works miss the power to make us love them. They look like strange bodies from the start, their viral force is too obvious. The element that could turn them into a personal choice however is there, but in some way you don’t seem to use it in the right way. The interviews you do with the people about their home, about the place were the work has to nestle, does not feed back into the reception of the work, but only in the production. In other words, the aspects that lead you to makes this specific kind of work for this specific person, are not transmitted to the persons themselves and in that way do not become part of the way they see the work.

I am not sure why you do not make the things you get from the interview part of the work. Maybe it feels like giving away a secret, but that might be a mistake. No matter what you tell, the secret will remain when the connection between the interview and the work is not completely obvious. On the contrary, the fact that you impression has led to an ‘opinion’ translates into this specific work will only be the more intriguing.

 

Dear Eitan, forgive if I have misunderstood your work. I am of course only speaking about the very small part that I know of it. I will try to find a place for his very small part in my new home. But that would have been easier if I knew in what way it could relate to the old one.

 

I wish you good luck with your work, and I am sure we will meet again, over here or over there.

 

Best wishes,

 

jeroen