So I phoned X.
“Hi, yes, it’s been a long, long time. Great to talk to you. No, really? You should have beeped the horn or something. Well, you know, got the driver to. Yes, I’m working for [this arts organisation]. That’s right. It’s run by artists for artists. And I thought you could benefit by joining – we have a lot of experience protecting artists’ rights – and, of course, it would mean a lot for us to have you as a member.”
Cold-calling old acquaintances wasn’t really my idea of fun, but I was new in the job and had been caught out namedropping one too many times. So…
“There’s a small subscription fee – it helps cover our legal costs. Yes, big membership, especially when you take into account the overseas affiliates. In this country, all kinds of artists, big and small, er, well, there’s W, Y and Z – they’re all members.”
X repeated Y’s name [very well known 60s British artist] and said, “I see.” His tone of voice changed, took on an edge, took on the task of dismissing me.
“Yes, let’s do that sometime. Thanks, X. OK, bye.”
The titles for the two photographs are taken from Glenn Branca’s album The Ascension (1981). The music was made by five guitarists (one’s a bass player) and a drummer. You can listen to Lesson No.2 here.
Painters Painting (1973) is a documentary film by Emile de Antonio about the New York art scene between 1940 and 1970. It features interviews with: Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Frank Stella, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hoffman, Jasper Johns, Robert Motherwell, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Philip Pavia, Larry Poons, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, some collectors, museum directors and the critics: Hilton Kramer, Thomas B. Hess, and Clement Greenberg. Leo Castelli and Philip Johnson are in there too. It’s fascinating.
There is a point of view that if you go into the landscape you should only leave footprints and take photographs. The other extreme is making monuments. I have no interest in making monuments. But I think there is a fascinating territory between those two positions. I can move things from place to place. I can manipulate the world by leaving stones on the road. And they don’t disappear because the stone is still in the world – but completely anonymously.
(Extact from an interview with Richard Long in The Guardian, 2012)