Interview with Jakob Nørregård the 15th of December 2008, Pretoria, South Africa
An interview between the artist Jakob Nørregård () and the art critic Jakob Nørregård ()
You got the idea for this interview from Glenn Gould's self-interview from 1974. Could you tell a little about that?
Yes. The self-interview seemed to be an excellent method of explaining a little about my work: The Worlds Until Now Biggest Artwork. In the interview Glenn Gould talks about Beethoven and his problematic relationship with the heroic. He did it this way because he didn't feel any journalist had managed to ask him the right questions.
You should maybe tell us a little about this artwork then?
Well - It has not been realised yet, but is already very alive - inside my head - in that way it is a reality. The stone has been lying on my desk for almost three quarters of a year now.
You will have to explain - What stone?
The stone Is the centre of the artwork. The artwork is a spheric form 6 light years in diameter, and the stone is in the centre. With the stone you have a point in time and space. It is the basis for the definition of the artwork. With an artwork of such size, you will always have problems with the question of simultaneousness.
six light years - why that exact size?
For aesthetic reasons. I wanted to have only one solar system inside the artwork. The nearest star is Alpha Proxima 4.3 light years away, so I choose 3 light years in radius. Light, and earth's three orbits around the sun.
And this is the largest installation in the world then?
Yes, the worlds until now largest installation. I am not sure about installation bit though. An installation is the same thing as a garden - a rather old concept. The installation is defined by its borders, the garden fence - I prefer to call it the biggest Artwork. I don't really like borders.
But there is a border - you just said that that was what the stone defines!
True. I could have called it the center of the universe, but I think that something would be lost. Humans are not really able to understand the universe.
It is a installation then.
Mmm... no, not really. It is to big, and then there is the whole problem of simultaneousness
Can I ask you if this work has a political agenda - turning our eyes away from all the local mess here on earth. Is it some kin of comment on our scientific technocratic colonialism, that keeps turning its eyes away from the real, sad reality's of this world?
The eye is not turned away. The local mess is included. It is simply so very small compared to the sheer size of the artwork. If earth was destroyed, it would only be like dust blowing of Las Meninas.
But let's be honest - you are polemic, right?
No, not really. To me, either all artworks are political or political art has no real interest for me. In both cases it is not worth to bother.
You don't think that an artwork can criticise for example a dictatorship?
Of course it can. It happens all the time. It's just - the political aspect of an artwork is not the interesting part. Pablo Neruda wrote beautiful poetry, Victor Jara beautiful music. The political aspect of art is more accidental... that is the wrong term. It is something personal, often idiosyncratic utterances, that slips into the work... but... that is true for all utterances in an artwork.
When I look at your artwork it is filled with cryptic, ideosyncratic.. eeh.. anoying personal things. The shed looks like a mixture of a playground toy and a Grecian temple, you have your... our children in photos. Felicia is supposed to place the stone, and...
Yes, that is true. The size of the artwork made every aesthetic choice kind of irrelevant. It is so small, even earth, even the sun. So, I simply did whatever went into my mind.
Well in my humble opinion you have been travelling that road for a long time now. The last few years has been one long examination of whatever went into your mind. All in all you stick to expressionism as a baby to its mothers tits!
I think that I have been doing other things too...
And this thing with children. Not only your... our girls, but the thing with the age limit.
I did that to make it... mysterious maybe. But also to make people aware of the volume of the work - instead of only the centre. The artwork is all around us. One can look in all directions, even into space, and still they will look at the artwork. Better than looking at a stone. But abstraction is hard for children, so I found it reasonable to let them see the stone.
But why the age limit. Why exactly below eleven?
Because... well I had imagined eight and below, but then I realised that Freja wouldn't be able to see it, and when the rest of her cousins could... well it wouldn't be fair to her would it?
I have to add, that it is your... our niece, Freja, you are talking about... Still - I think this is too coy. What would you do if an adult goes into the shed to see the stone anyway?
Well... I am not the police. If anybody insist on acting childishly...
I think that what you are really doing here is making a comment on our social norms... You are trying to deface some of the mechanisms in society's conception of art - The paradox between the price and the cognitive potential of an artwork. For example in the ridiculously high price... a price that is growing all the time... the age limit for seeing the stone...
Don't start again. I know of no mechanism. If you mean that humans and ants are behaving in similar ways, that we are reinventing history the same way again and again - well, I might have thought of it that way. But honestly, I can't see any of this in my artwork. I wonder if the ants are ever speculate this way... Maybe... maybe they too have a petit bourgeois little fellow, using bourgeois philosophy, to end both philosophy and the bourgeoisie. And the the ants are swarming around killing each other, making revolution. But in the long run they will just return to collecting food and pine needles.
Why are we talking about ants? I am talking about you, confronting identity as a social construction with the seemingly cool objectivity of science. The normative social conventions cancelled by the slowly progressing norm of science. Cancelling each other out - making each other absurd. The difference in scale between psychological human and the enormous... well that is a thought. Is this sublime aesthetics?
No, not really. I simply like artworks, that is no more than a simple trick. Cleansed. Without too much materiality, too much language, and too many paradoxes. One object, one announcement, and that's it. I just wanted to make one of these once, that's all.
That's it. I wanted to make something like Piero Manzoni's Socle du Monde. He is much more elegant. But he wasen't a redneck from the far north.
You know, the thing about this »Until Now Biggest« was really a reaction on Socle du Monde. The guy we call Little Kim told me that Manzoni had made more copies of Socle du Monde and that has been bothering me. You can have only one socle. I wanted to be able to make the artwork again without having to destroy the idea... If there was a demand of course... That is the real reason for the borders. I could make any copy of the work in that way. Imagine - how is the world supposed to rest on more than one plinth - and a shame that Herning, the Danish city where one of Manzoni's socles stand, wasn't the bottom of the world. I rather liked that.
You made it this way to sell more? How incredibly unrealistic can you be!
Funny thing that it was only afterwards that I remembered Stockhausen.
Yes. I had the title in Danish and in English, and then I remembered that Stockhausen in his hermetic, unworldly wisdom had called the terror strike on the 11th of September 2001: »das größte Kunstwerk, das es je gegeben hat.« The same thing.
It is not going to work, believe me. This is not going to work.