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 (

  1. You got the idea for this interview from Glenn Gould's self-interview from 1974. Could you maybe tell a little about that?  

  2. 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 speaks of Beethoven and his problematic relationship with the heroic and he didn't feel that any journalist had managed to ask him the right questions.

  3. You should maybe tell me a little about this artwork then

  4. 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.

  5. You will have to explain - What stone?

  6. 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 a size, you will always have problems with the question of simultaneousness.

  7. six light years - why that exact size?

  8. For aesthetic reasons I wanted to only have one solar system inside the artwork. The nearest star is Alpha Proxima 4,3 light years away. That is why I choose 3 light years in radius. Light and earth's three orbits around the sun.

  9. And that is the largest installation in the world then.

  10. yes, the worlds until now largest installation. I am not sure about installation though. An installation is the same thing as a garden -a rather old concept. The installation is defined by its borders, the garden fence, and I am not to interested in borders - I would rather call it the biggest Artwork. I don't really like borders.

  11. But there is border - that is what the stone defines!

  12. True. I could have called it the center of the universe, but I think that something would be lost . Humans are not able to understand the universe.

  13. It is a installation then.

  14. Mmm.. nooo, not really. I think that it is to big, and then there is the whole problem of simultaneousness

  15. Can I ask you if the whole thing has a political agenda - this way of turning our eyes away from all the local mess here on earth. Is it some kin of comment to our scientific technocratic colonialism, that keeps turning its eyes away from the sad reality's of this world.

  16. The eye is not turned away, the local mess is included. They are 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.

  17. But hand on your heart - are you not polemic?

  18. 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 any bother.

  19. You don't think that an artwork can criticise for example a dictatorship?

  20. 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.

  21. When I look at your artwork it is filled with cryptic, ideosyncratic.. eeh.. anoying personal things. The shed looks like a mixture of a plaything an a Grecian temple, you have your.. our children in photos, Felicia is supposed to place the stone, and...

  22. 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. Well, I simply did whatever went into my mind.

  23. Well in my humble opinion you have been travelling that way 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!

  24. I think that I have been doing other things too...

  25. And then this thing with children, not only your... our girls, but the thing with the age limit.

  26. I did that to make the whole thing... 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. Much better that looking at the stone. Abstraction is hard for children so I thought that it was reasonable to let them see the stone.

  27. But why the age limit. Why exactly below eleven?

  28. That's 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.

  29. I have to add, that it is your ... our niece Freja you are talking about... Still - I think this is too precious. What would you do if an adult goes into the shed to see the stone anyway?

  30. Well... I am not the police. If anybody insist on acting childishly...

  31. Something tells me that what you are really doing here is commenting on our social norm... 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. Like the ridiculously high price... a price that is growing all the time.. the age limit...

  32. Don't start again. I know of no mechanism. If you mean that humans and ants are behaving in similar ways, that we are inventing history the same way again and again - well, the thought is of course popping up now and again. But honestly, I can't see any of this kind of things in my artwork. I wonder if the ants are ever doing this kind of speculation... 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, but in the long run they just keeps on collecting food and pine needles.

  33. 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. That these two are cancelling each other -making each other absurd. The sheer scale between psychological human being and the enormous... well that is a thought. Is this sublime aesthetics?

  34. No, not really. I simply like artworks, that is no more than a simple trick. Cleansed, without to much materiality, to much language, and to many paradoxes. One object, one announcement and that's it. I just wanted to make one of these once, that's all.

  35. ...

  36. That's why. I waqnted to make something like Piero Manzoni's Socle du Monde. His is much more elegant, but he wasen't a redneck from the nordic countrys.

  37. yes... But... 

  38. 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. I wanted to be able to make the artwork again... If there was a demand... 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 base - and a shame that Herning, the Danish city where they have one, wasn't the bottom of the world. I rather liked that.

  39. You have made it this way to sell more? How incredibly unrealistic can you be!

  40. Funny thing that it was only afterwards that I remembered Stockhausen. 

  41. Stockhausen? 

  42. Yes. I had the title in Danish and in English, but 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. 

  43. It is not going to work, believe me. It is not going to work.