Fonda iterviewing Carlos Basualdo
1.How do you think the phenomena of globalisation is effecting
the art scene? Is it enriching it or you have the impression
that something gets lost? Like the notion of national identity
and tradition for example.
When we say globalisation sometimes I feel it is a kind of
very wide umbrella, that protects many different things that
are happening. Because there is a culture of accumulation,
but also of communication. But I think this is basically the
strategy of capitalism. Capitalism is a machine, they say
it accumulates, but it also establishes further connections,
all the connections necessary to accumulate more effect. After
that machine comes development and technology. And the machine
Deleuze used to talk about, the diagram of capitalism plus
the achievement of technology, produces another phenomenon,
which is the communication of culture - the accessibility
of different people in different places, who can talk to each
other. I think when we say globalisation we are referring
to all those things indistinctively, without making any kind
of differences. We understand the nuances of all those things.
I think globalisation is a wide term, as a matter of fact
it encompasses a lot of different phenomena operating at a
lot of different levels in cultural and daily life. It is
a kind of little problematic term. Therefore is better to
concentrate on the specificity of it, rather than try to talk
about it in very general terms.
And what about the question of identity?
Establishing a common ground for communication among different
cultures and producers all over the world, while at the same
time retaining a degree of effectiveness when those practices
were developed or put into practice in the specific context
in which they were produced. So at the same time, I think
the modern attempt was to try to develop a practice that both
can enter a dialogue internationally and that can be very
effective at a local level. So I think modernism, at least
for me, was never at the opposition of the international versus
the local, but it was very much about trying to operate at
both levels at the same time. This is very clear when you
think of certain writers like Joyce, or Borges, it very clear
that they operate on both levels. They are not thinking in
terms of either or, they are thinking about both things. I
think that the most interesting cultural producers today are
working in that direction. I feel they are operating within
the context of where they are. Places were they live and work,
but trying to produce an intervention that can have a life
beyond that context. And I actually would say that they have
a life beyond that context because they are so effective at
a local level. So I don't see any kind of opposition in the
most interesting people's work today. On the other hand, I
think the idea of identity related to nationality is dangerous,
and it has always been a dangerous thing. National identity
is a fairly risky construct. I think that discussing national
identity today is dangerous because it is still contaminated
by the discussion of national identity of the last couple
of centuries. There is basically a belligerent way of thinking
about identity. So if that belligerence is to be eroded, the
level of global communication is going to be forced to come
out with a new way of defining identity. I welcome it.
2.One of the positive characters of the global communication
system is that you can obtain information and inform the world
even if you live in the most remote village, the most important
thing is to have a computer. In such a way an incredible amount
of different visions are going to come out. Do you think that
they will have any effect on the "stability" of the so called
established art scene? And how?
I think there is something that we call art historical modern
and contemporary time, which was basically North American
and Western European. It was a narrative for post 45' history
and now this is changing because we are realising that in
the 60s there was flourishing interest in centres like Japan,
Buones Aires in Argentina and the countries of the former
Yugoslavia, for example, and Russia. So, in the last ten years
we have been in a process of continuously re-mapping the world.
And I certainly would agree with you that people feel the
threat of either authority or investment. When I say investment,
I would even say that authority is another investment. There
are many kinds of investment, such as emotional, intellectual
and financial. And this re-mapping of the world is definitely
affecting all those levels. People sometimes react with curiosity,
react anxiously and some people react aggressively. And this
is kind of natural. This is a way human nature is. I think
that is not going to stop and that it is a kind of long term
project which will have a lot of cultural implications. And
it is not something that is going to be welcomed and embraced
by the hegemonic institutions. But you know it is going to
happen and that they will have to face it.
4.To emerge and to be included in an international exhibition
does not mean that the art market will be interested in the
work of an artist of the so called periphery. You organized
an emblematic exhibition on this topic in Ljubljana last year,
called "Worthless". We often hear talk about the global market,
but I have the feeling that we cannot apply this term to art.
What are the reasons for it?
I think the global market is a sort of slogan, it is not
something that really happens, this why I said that global
sometimes is very wide concept that involves many things,
but in effect is very contradictory. Sometimes when we talk
about globalisation we understand and immediately associate
it with the idea of free trade. But we know that free trade
is somehow defended by hegemony, which means they exploit
whatever they want and maintain restrictions, so basically
France and the United States can exploit whatever they want.
But they still maintain the restriction, for example, of agricultural
travel in Europe. Not to speak about labour. Because as we
know, although travelling all over the world seems like a
commodity, labour cannot. The whole issue of immigration and
illegality emerges exactly from this contradiction. Market
dynamics are very specific and very much in control of the
hegemonic countries and hegemonic institutions and of course,
it reflects in the world of culture, in that access to international
exhibitions does not mean that art collectors are up to date
with the global market. Not to say that right now our practice
depends entirely on the market in order to be culturally effective.
It seemed that for a practice to become culturally effective,
first it has to be disseminated or somehow filtered through
the market. But I do not think this is the case of market
penetration and cultural effectiveness. I think we have to
make a clear difference.
There is a sort of barrier towards artists coming from
non hegemonic countries. A kind of distance and a simple curiosity,
but nothing goes further?
I understand that market penetration is important for the
life of the people. In so-called cultural market penetration
it also means a financial investment in the work produced
and ultimately a financial investment in the work seems to
be a guarantee for producing a historical memory for that
work. But the truth of the matter is that on the other hand
some of the most interesting work produced in recent years
has resisted market penetration. So I am not ready to embrace
the idea that we have to fight for market penetration. I would
not go along with that idea. So, I am specifically concerned
about the impact that this isolation from financial circuits
may have for the life of individuals, but I am not so concerned
about the real effect. I think that market penetration usually
happens at some level or another. And I definitely agree with
you, that people who had invested in let's say German post-war
art or American Minimalism, are going to find it difficult
to buy constructivism, because there is a lack of consideration.
Because they are mainly trying to promote the art in which
they have invested, because there is a lot of prejudice involved.
I mean there are a lot of different facts. And I think those
are operating and I think they will continue operating at
one level or another. I think traditionally in the modern
world that the cultural effectiveness of a practice at some
level or another wants us with the collector and all the collectors
represented in terms of bourgeois values. But I am not sure
that we are at that point right now. I'm not saying that we
are any better, because I think that bourgeois culture has
been replaced by a corporate culture. But I wouldn't say that
corporate culture is any better or an improvement on bourgeois
culture. However, what I was saying is that they are completely
different and I am sure that corporations operated at a cultural
level with different intensions, not so much for collecting,
but for promoting themselves through culture by establishing
a completely different kind of dialogue with individual practitioners.
Basically we have to try to look for what is going on now
and try to think within the categories of what's going on
now, and forget a little bit about the past. From the white
cube to private collectors, you know from private collectors
to the museum, the relationships are changing. Corporation,
the biennials, the relationships between cities operating
as corporations at the biennial, is really challenging that
whole circuit. Challenging what the white cube really is.
I am not saying that is changing for the better, but it is
6.On the other hand, this attitude of the global market
to create a huge amount of commercial products provokes artists
to react more and more, and consists in giving particular
importance to the process rather than to the object.
That has been going on for the last thirty years and actually
I think it has relived the way the artists were interested
in the process, let's think about the 60s and 70s, statistically
it was much more clear than what was happening in the 80s
or 90s, clear that they were about a certain commercialism.
I think that although there are very interesting people working
more in the terms of process, much more then in terms of the
object, I think we were banalizing, and we have to go a little
bit further back in the past.
7. You don't think that today's mainly ironic and desecrated
action towards the media system is a form of interesting and
effective art, even though it's impossible to be sold or bought?
That is also part, as I said, of a tradition that has been
happening for a long time. I think it is almost art history.
I think it is definitely interesting, and what is most interesting
is that there is no big difference between the kind of thing
that is happening today with what was happening thirty years
ago. We have to remember that thirty years ago there was the
'68 revolution going on around the world, and artists were
responding to it in a very creative way. I think the main
difference is how curators and institutions are responding
now. It's a question of whether they are able to amplify them,
connect them and make of them a whole different understanding
of art production or if they are going just to try to translate
them into a commodity and make them part of the old system
as it was. I think this is the crucial point right now. I
think that artists have been trying to break the system of
capitalisation for the last thirty years. I believe the way
which all people in different cultural fields can operate
with those practices has now changed. And so this is a great
opportunity to develop a new programme.
So let's do it...
Yes, but in terms of collaboration. You know, in the past
artists had institutions to react against. Right now that
may have changed slightly and there is a chance that institutions
can reinvent themselves so they can work with the artists,
not really against them. That is what I hope.