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In September 2010, we invited the artist Bernd Krauss to construct a Hortus Conclusus using materials from our basement.  In this interview, Artspace Curator Liza Statton uses materials from our basement to engage in conversation with Krauss.

B:  From language and literature…whether it’s the toy department or the hobbyist, there is always a model in it that they can erase all uncertainty and turns it into something “okay thank you, ya”. And I think that is then the quality or the hopes of what the material basically can engage the audience and his thought. I think that it’s better that it stays alive this gap of understanding. I think that’s what I really try to guarantee through different structures. Through overloading, understating, and confusing parallel structures, or I think that’s also responsibility where we have a few from the word to guarantee that as available.

L: Especially, though, when were talking the other day, with your selections of things, often because of their English translations, can have double meanings. Like the word “plot,” for example, wrestling over that word “plot.”… I’m not asking you what your project means, but people come in and are confronted with art, are looking for meaning, they’re looking for something to tell them what it is.

B: They’re totally miseducated. This is an ongoing thing; that you go out there and tell them something. And I think it’s already the other way, that most of the artists are working that way, “this is this, and this stands for this thing,” and so we can forget about the material because this is only a symbol, a substitution for all other things they want to speak about, but that’s kind of an economy I don’t understand, and I don’t want to follow. It’s not wrong, but it’s totally neglecting the visualities. But also, even if it’s not visual…if there’s a brick then there’s a brick. What do you want to do with it, or about it? You and I find that they confronted that there’sa brick, and there’s a mirror, or the row of brick and then there’s the that orb (?) that wooden (?) orb (2:51) that is in a way embedded in this thing, that what do you want to ex….what do you want to ask? There’s nothing to ex… you have to look at it, and whatever you can understand something or you can do something with it. And I think that’s something that’s especially with our generation, or generations before, that you have “I’m always up for the discourse.” You could find enough people who would right now through my pages about the female warrior and the socialist Scandinavia, and this is, this can be one link. But you then you should also go back to the link, and forget about the link and what does it do? It stands there behind different sorts of the metal structure, and then this is the sword and this is, yeah and then you go back to back. And then you think that is very ordinate, to understand that content is a form of, only a form of what’s chosen.

L: Okay. Okay, so this image, can see you see? It says “sodium free.” It says “sodium free vintage.” Many of the items here are vintage, are they “sodium free”, as well?

B: That’s very nice. That advertisement. What is it, is it boar head?

L: Boar head…Boar’s head! The meats, yeah.

B: They’re making advertisements…”Oh! The government is asking to cut down sodium in the next two and a half years. Oh, we did that 25 years ago.”…. I’m not really sure whether that…vintage, yes, but in a very specific way with the hairbands. But that becomes vintage very, in a way, I think, “really, how long do I still have to go to the salvatory army, how can I bury that smell in there…” So, that word turns into perversion, if you want so. Then, the vintage thing, is a look. A lot of designers are having lines that are vintage. It’s kind of… I don’t even want to use the word fakey, even…

L: Fetish, maybe?

B: But it’s a kind of re-fetishizing, maybe, Dolce and Gabbana having been a vintage thing. Or you buy the Wrangler Levi’s checkered from 30 years ago. You can’t get it anymore, it’s been reproduced, and then costs much more than the actual Wrangler or Levi’s checkered.

L: It’s style. It’s about style, don’t you think?

B: I think it’s a very good idea to, in a way, rebrand yourself. It’s the same thing. The Adidas sneakers, I still have the original, since 25 years. Now I still have to wait anymore for them to make it as a vintage thing to get the original anymore. I don’t know what it is, yeah. It’s something that I’m aware it’s there. Now, I would now need a perspective of why you would think about vintage in the context of the work. Versus that vintage coming in, then, where would it make sense to use the term?

L: But that idea of branding is really tied to, even to this image. The way that the formal layout of the image, the font face, this sort of complimentary effect that the connotation and denotation…the pictorial associations that we have with language by putting the word vintage with the font that doesn’t look contemporary or modern. It looks older, it conjures nostalgia, it’s asking us to think about authenticity, in a way… But on the other hand that idea of the brand, if you’re using it in the context of design, like you used with fashion, to make Dolce and Gabbana, which is high couture culture, high couture fashion, and then rebranding and making things that are meant to look old, meant to look stylized, meant to look a certain way, kind of corrupts the meaning of the word in general.

Or maybe I’m a little off target there. But it’s a tough word, because its connotations are so specfic, don’t you think?

B: At least utopia is lost in a way, if you are in a situation that vintage is not necessarily close to a charity anymore. It’s not corrupt, but it’s usable. It became usable, people had an interest and made sense out of it. Then I would ask, what would be my economy, by using vintage? Then the point is if this is the news from yesterday, then what is it? Is it old? Then it’s vintage. So you have a diary where you describe the things, and you look back, and that is the first moment where something is vintageable, at least.

L: Vintageable, alrght!

B: Then it’s a question of your strategy and your economics, whether you want to put it out there or not. It’s just, it’s something for publication, where everyone is asked to contributed 150 pieces of A4 paper. And they get you to 100 feet of publication, and each contributor puts one page in there. And then I choose drawings from 98 that was called “Banner Ready 1997” (8:43), so expression 97, and that’s then 13 years ago. I think that’s definitely vintageable.

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