Rirkrit Tiravanija以食物的准备和烹饪知名于国际艺术界，首次在中国的个展却选择了生产与消费问题，也许是中国的生产与消费景观给了他强烈刺激。艺术家在展览现场烧制的砖块已经不是现在城市建筑的主要建造材料，钢筋混凝土和玻璃幕墙以及各种高科技的材质与技术是现代都市风景的构成元素，艺术家烧造的14086块砖仅仅够中国贫民盖一间普通住房。考察一下中国的人居环境发展历程，大体有三个节点，第一是由泥土，石头，竹木，茅草等直接来源于自然的材质建造的居住空间，第二是当消费需求扩大，由工业烧窑制造的砖块、混凝土这些机械产品建造的空间，第三就是作为万国建筑试验场的当代都市空间，这是一个完全人工化了的自然。Rirkrit Tiravanija烧制的砖块所能建造的房屋处在一个退亦不能，进亦无路的尴尬境地。在砖场旁边的摩天鸟笼是一个秩序等级分明的世界，价格昂贵的鹩哥、八哥们不但声音响亮，而且“说”着人类（貌似是这个世界的主宰）能够听懂的话语，这是一种交流的特权吗？其他的鸣禽的叫声则听起来凌乱一片，不知所云。豆腐脑摊子和风光无限的高级轿车虽然都给人以豆香奶香的温暖感，但两者并置在一起却有一种冰冷的隔绝横亘在我面前。
《无题 》（14086） ，2010
无题 （奶粉 梅赛德） ，2010
无题 （北京朝阳区建国门外大街1号， 上海普陀区中山北路25号），2010
Harry Smith: The Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular celebrates Smith’s wide-ranging oeuvre and is available this month from Getty Publications. Here, Rani Singh, director of the Harry Smith Archives, discusses the book’s inception and Smith’s significance to the field. On January 28, the Hammer Museum will host a launch party with Patti Smith.
Left: Cover of Harry Smith: The Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular (2010). Right: Harry Smith.
HARRY SMITH EMPHASIZED seeing the mundane in a creative light and would regularly ask people, “Have you been creative today?” Essentially, his search for synthesizing world cultures was what his artmaking and lifetime achievements were all about.
Although Smith was primarily known as a filmmaker and the producer of the Anthology of American Folk Music, his myriad collections of string figures, Seminole patchwork quilts, and tarot cards, as well as his involvement in peyote rituals and his art and painting practices, had not been looked at together. It is quite possible that people in the film world had no idea of his other endeavors and vice versa. So the Getty Research Institute thought that it would be a good idea to bring all these disciplines together for a symposium, which we did in 2001 and 2002.
The book brings together these disparate arenas of Smith’s life. It comprises reworked essays from the symposia, and we also commissioned additional texts and, most important, had a wealth of primary sources: interviews with Smith, full documentation of his presentations, and a lot of never-before-seen archival materials. We also had the ability to make scans of his 16-mm and 35-mm films, which is pretty astonishing because it gives us the opportunity to see each frame individually, and those frames are works of art unto themselves.
To celebrate the book, we’re holding events in New York, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle. Patti Smith was an old and dear friend of Smith’s. She knew him when she was living with Robert Mapplethorpe at the Chelsea Hotel, and they spent a lot of time together. The new book speaks at length about that era. (Funnily enough, there’s an exhibition at the DOX Center for Contemporary Art in Prague on the Chelsea Hotel that reconstitutes Smith, Mapplethorpe, and Warhol’s rooms there.) I hope that the book reflects Smith’s search for melding multiple disciplines and approaches, a worldview that synthesizes different cultures and ways of doing things.
I was Harry’s assistant from 1988 until his death in November 1991, and when he passed away I started the Harry Smith Archives as a nonprofit and attempted to locate, collect, preserve, and present his materials, which, due to his irascible nature and peripatetic lifestyle, were essentially all around the globe. Smith lived a very bohemian life, to put it mildly. When I’d visit him, his stuff would be all chockablock––it was really an incredible experience. Whether he was staying at the Chelsea Hotel, at the Breslin Hotel, at Naropa Institute, or in a room in Allen Ginsberg’s apartment in the Lower East Side, it was always an experience. He would have a Seminole patchwork hanging up or a frozen bird in the freezer or a film project in the works and stacks and stacks of books. The room usually had a unique odor, a mix of marijuana and Salem 100 cigarettes and whatever kind of beer or cheap vodka was on sale that week. It was all very heady.
Left: View of the new complete edition of The Interaction of Color (2009).Right: Josef Albers.
Nicholas Fox Weber is the executive director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and the author of more than ten books, including The Bauhaus Group (2009) and Le Corbusier: A Life (2008). On December 21, Yale University Press will publish the new complete edition of Josef Albers’s Interaction of Color in a two-volume set with a foreword by Weber.
JOSEF ALBERS ALWAYS EMPHASIZED what was universal and timeless in artistic values. The happenstance of a given time period, the rise or fall of a trend, did not matter to him; in fact, he considered art to be the antidote to the hazards of time. We honor that perspective at the Albers Foundation. Yale has long wanted to do this project, and in 2009, it finally came together.
The Interaction of Color was originally published in 1963 and has long been out of print. Of course there were the usual number of humdrum newspaper articles based on the press release from the publisher at the time. But beyond that, there was tremendous excitement on the part of artists. The book was excerpted in Art News in March of 1963, and it quickly excited artists and art lovers everywhere. Dore Ashton wrote about it in Studio, while certain color scientists and theoreticians responded in technical journals with some of their quibbles.
There are not many differences between the original limited edition and the new complete edition. But naturally, nearly fifty years after the original publication, I try to put the book in a historical perspective in my foreword. At the same time, having been lucky enough to know Josef quite well, I try in my way to make him come alive.
Other than my foreword, the only changes in the new edition are that the text and commentary are bound into a single volume and the 150 color plates that were printed with screenprint technique in the original are now done in offset, taking advantage of advances in that technique. These have been bound in a separate volume. Some of the studies that were in the original––the work based on art by the old masters, and certain leaf studies––are not included in the new volume, but three leaf studies from the archive that were not in the original are in the revised edition. The reason for this is that we wanted to use richly colored originals in order to achieve lively reproductions; we did not want to start out with faded images.
The Albers Foundation was able to provide production and editing supervision for the new edition, and we also located and made available those original leaf studies. Brenda Danilowitz, an expert on Albers’s teaching and on many aspects of his art, has been with the foundation over a period of years; she has gained deep understanding of his color theories, and she was involved in numerous details for this book.
Working with Yale was fantastic. Part of my relationship with Josef was the respect he had for me being a printer’s son, and I was happy to be involved with details like paper selection and slipcase design. We worked with Yale on the cover and the packaging, too. They understood the central importance to Josef of every aspect of design, of texture, spacing, and typeface and respected us as the source of his