A Conversation - Theaster Gates, Glenn Ligon and Thelma Golden

The Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies (AIE) and U.S. Embassy Madrid collaborated to bring an artist lecture to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Featuring internationally acclaimed American artists Theaster Gates and Glenn Ligon in conversation with The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Director Thelma Golden, this event was part of Embassy Madrid’s public outreach associated with the AIE exhibition at the official residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, James Costos.

The AIE exhibition features significant works by Gates, Ligon, Josef Albers, Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, Julie Mehretu, and many others, as well as Spanish artists such as Eduardo Chillida, Antonio Saura, Antoni Tàpies, Esteban Vincente, Cristina Iglesias and Javier Romero. The ambitious exhibition was curated by Virginia Shore and Michael Smith as a tribute to cultural diversity.

Full Transcript

0:12 THELMA GOLDEN: Thank you. Good evening. It is a great pleasure to be here with Glenn
0:16 Ligon and Theaster Gates and to have the opportunity to talk to them about their work. As was said,
0:20 I’m Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, which is a
0:24 museum devoted to presenting the work of black artists from around the world.
0:27 We were founded in 1968, and our mission and mandate has always been to look at the ways
0:29 in which the history of art has been impacted by the work of artists of African descent.
0:35 The museum, which is on 125th Street, just a block away from the Apollo Theater, is devoted
0:42 to the collecting of work, but also the presentation. And it’s been my great pleasure as a curator
0:50 to work with both of these artists in many different forms and a thrill today to get
0:55 to talk to them. So what we thought we would do first is each of them are going to introduce
1:03 a bit about their work, their practice, some thoughts about what inspires the work.
1:09 And then we are going to have a conversation which really looks at some of the shared themes
1:15 between these two artists, as well as some of the many ideas that their important and
1:25 powerful work provokes. So we’re going to begin with Theaster Gates.
1:30 THEASTER GATES: Thank you all for coming. As [INAUDIBLE] said, with my work is rooted
1:38 in Chicago. Over the last 10 or 15 years, I found myself thinking about art in maybe
1:46 what used to be three buckets.
1:48 One bucket was about object making. How could an artist say what he or she wanted to by
1:53 presenting the world in a kind of smaller form? That I could respond to the world with
2:01 objects and it would be a symbolic interpretation of how the world worked. I often would use
2:06 object making and especially ceramics in my youth to try to convey things, but also just
2:12 to get better at making forms. The second way of working was not only thinking
2:19 about objects but how performance might have an impact in the world. If there were things
2:28 that I wanted to say, and I felt I couldn’t say them through object making, could a speech
2:34 act or a song or a theatrical moment in a public space be the right response? A letter
2:41 to the mayor? A letter to the president?
2:43 So they were more symbolic and performative gestures. And then there are moments when
2:46 I’m thinking about a problem in the world, and the best way to think about that problem
2:54 is to try to address the problem in the world. And that sometimes, even if I fail in resolving
3:02 the problem, the artistic intervention is that one would fight against the world best
3:04 they can and see what happens.
3:05 And so the work that you see behind us is this combination of thinking about objects
3:11 and labor, thinking about the relationship between objects and the real world and sometimes
3:14 the way that objects allow for me to perform those objects and leave traces of those things.
3:18 This, in one way, constitutes for me what I think of as an artistic practice.
3:23 And the more that I play around with these varying forms, the more complicated my interest
3:27 in object making becomes interventions in the real world and performance, so that they
3:31 become hard, maybe, to even distinguish sometimes as works of art.
3:34 THELMA GOLDEN: Thank you, Theaster. Glenn.
3:36 GLENN LIGON: Just start rolling. I would say that I started out as a painter who’s very
3:41 interested in the generations of painters in the ’50s, called themselves abstract expressionists.
3:44 Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline. And so that was my basis.
3:46 But then found, as a young artist, that the vocabulary of abstraction that I was trying
3:52 to work in couldn’t contain all the things that I was interested in, couldn’t contain,
3:59 as Theaster said, the world. And so the practice changed to incorporate language.
4:02 And that was because there were these amazing texts I was reading by Jean Genet, Zora Neale
4:07 Hurston, James Baldwin, Gertrude Stein, but no way to get those ideas from those texts
4:12 into the paintings that I was making. Except at a certain moment, I had realized that if
4:20 I just put the text into the paintings and made the text the paintings, that was a way
4:23 of channeling the power of those texts but also being committed to painting as an act.
4:28 So the first works were dealing very much with language, dealing with questions of visibility
4:36 and invisibility, dealing with formal issues around repetition and surface. And then the
4:41 practice expanded out from that, thinking about literature or text as a source, more
4:45 generally.
4:45 So some of the work you see, like behind me, The Death of Tom is a film that I made that’s
4:49 based on the novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but is a very abstract film. It’s based in literature,
4:52 but it takes another form beyond painting. The images here are from a march in Washington
4:54 maybe 20 years ago called the Million Man March. Again, about issues of representation
4:56 and visibility, which has always been part of the painting practice, but expanded out
4:59 to start to use images.
5:00 And then expanding into neon, more recently, and really thinking of neon as sculpture.
5:03 So moving somewhat beyond the painting practice to objects that hang in space. Using Gertrude
5:08 Stein as The Negro Sunshine here, using the word “America” as a thing to play with in
5:12 these various forms.
5:13 And then the more recent text work is moving towards music and thinking about music as
5:17 a source material. And so this body of work that you see behind me was based on Steve
5:21 Reich, a composition called “Come Out,” which was from 1966.
5:25 And the composition was made in response to a call that Reich got to make a piece for
5:30 benefit for a group of kids that were arrested falsely of murder in Harlem 1964. And Steve
5:34 Reich takes their testimony and makes this tape loop piece, using one of the kids’ words.
5:40 And I got very inspired by that piece because so much of my work has been about speech repetition.
5:49 And so the Reich made sense to me, but also that the Steve Reich was in response to a
5:59 very specific social movement, police brutality in Harlem at a particular moment. And those
6:06 issues, given American history are still quite relevant. And so a lot of, I think, my work
6:12 also dives into the archive of American history and brings forward moments from the past to
6:15 the present and tries to think about how those moments from the past echo in the present.
6:21 THELMA GOLDEN: Thank you, Glenn. What’s amazing to me is that there are so many places where
6:25 both of your work converges together. And I wanted to start and talk about the fact
6:31 that both of you are deeply invested in this idea of history. Glenn, you’ve taken on history
6:36 in the sort of broadest way, looked at these historic moments and documented, but also,
6:42 in many cases, commented on them in your work.
6:46 And you have actually also done that, but at the same time, you’ve looked at history
6:50 sometimes through a personal lens, right? Through autobiography. So my first question
6:56 to you, Glenn, in talking about this idea of history, how the moments that you have
7:02 chosen to look at in your work– moments like the Million Man March or the Central Park
7:05 jogger case– how do you pick a moment and consider it as something that you want to
7:10 make art about?
7:11 GLENN LIGON: I would say that the moments are picked in a strange way, in a very personal
7:17 way.
7:17 THELMA GOLDEN: Do they pick you? Do the moments–
7:20 GLENN LIGON: In some ways. In some ways. Even though they may have happened before I was
7:29 born, there’s the sense that these things are quite tangible for me. And so the way
7:34 the work starts is, say I did an installation based on the history of slavery, a particular
7:41 slave narrative. And really that’s sort of from me going to
7:45 the library and doing research on images from slavery and finding one image and saying,
7:55 that’s just a strange image. What does this image mean? And doing more research about
8:03 it, and then developing a body of work out of it.
8:08 Or, in terms of the images with the hand you saw from the Million Man March, just thinking
8:17 about the images of
8:29 in the newspaper that surrounded that march. A march in Washington, DC, organized by the
8:38 Nation of Islam about the visibility of black people in the United States. And I’m just
8:46 thinking about those images and realizing we’ve had those marches before.
8:51 It’s very ironic that for people that have been in the United States from the beginning,
9:03 we still have this need to gather and show that we’re visible here. And so the poignancy
9:09 of that moment really struck me.
9:12 And I think that’s it, too. They’re poignant for me. They resonate that way, emotionally.
9:17 And so that prompts a kind of further investigation.
9:20 THELMA GOLDEN: And for you, Theaster, it seems that this engagement in history really is
9:24 what takes you to thinking about the archive. And I think, for example, about the work that
9:30 you’ve been making for many years using the material of the archive of the Johnson publishing
9:36 company, which was a publishing company established in the United States by an African-American
9:41 family which published magazines, significantly Ebony and Jet magazine, which documented the
9:46 history and the culture of African Americans.
9:49 And can you talk a bit about the history that comes from the archive and the way in which
9:56 you’ve reclaimed an archive through art?
10:01 THEASTER GATES: Sure. So maybe I can say first, the more that I think about my history as
10:13 a ceramic artist and the vessel as a kind of necessary point of departure for sculpture,
10:20 I often feel empty. I feel like my art practice is like emptiness. And in some ways, the archive
10:36 became a way of filling myself up and then saying, well, for the next 20 years, I could
10:43 dig into this thing and where I’m an empty vessel, let’s say, my big work will be to
10:51 care for these things that are now in my house, right? So now inside me.
11:00 And so, in some ways, by identifying the Johnson collection and understanding that it’s an
11:09 important moment– again, it found me, but in finding me, also, it needed care. So a
11:24 big part of archival work is about caring for things. So that felt really good, that
11:32 I would have a set of objects that could allow me to care for them almost like a garden.
11:44 And that in that, it would produce or yield all these possibilities that were way too
11:50 many possibilities for me, myself.
11:52 And so, in addition to me caring for it, I could also have other artists thinking with
11:59 me about the Johnson collection or thinking with me about Frankie Knuckles’s albums collection–
12:06 this house music DJ in Chicago– because if I’m excited about a certain pact with history,
12:13 then other people might be, too.
12:16 And so in some cases, like these images of Ebony and Jet, and the same with the literature
12:21 that Glenn thinks about, these things are right below our noses. But they’re just below
12:27 enough that we would never open the book again. We would never read the poem out loud. We
12:34 would never go back to that issue of Ebony.
12:38 And so one part of the work is simply lifting it up, cleaning it off, making it tangible
12:46 again, or maybe inserting yourself as an artist, just a little bit, so that people see it in
12:54 a new way.
12:55 THELMA GOLDEN: Fantastic. Materials. What you make your art from. Profoundly interesting
12:59 for both of you, but in particular, Glenn, you’ve worked with coal dust, and Theaster,
13:06 you work with tar. Two materials that come out of our sense of industry and labor. And
13:10 so could you both talk about both the origin, right, of coming to these materials from each
13:16 of you and their meaning in your work and in the world.
13:21 GLENN LIGON: Yeah. Well, I came to coal dust sort of by accident or a roundabout way. I
13:28 was making paintings that were using a text by James Baldwin, “Stranger in the Village.”
13:35 Or I was thinking of making paintings using “Stranger in the Village.” And Baldwin’s essay
13:43 is written in the ’50s. At the time, he’s living in Switzerland. He’s working on a novel,
13:53 and he finds himself in this small Swiss village at the chalet that his lover’s parents own
13:59 and finds himself the only black person in this village.
14:04 And the essay is about this encounter. What does it mean to be a stranger in the village,
14:13 literally? But more generally, what does it mean to be a stranger in terms of having a
14:19 different culture, being a black American in Europe, being estranged from America, because
14:23 he’s left America to write, gone to Paris and now is in Switzerland.
14:26 So that’s what the essay is about. And when I was reading the essay, I realized that Baldwin,
14:32 partially because he was trained as a preacher, his writing is very preacherly. It’s very
14:37 beautifully wrought, dense, inspiring. It has these kind of rhetorical things that are
14:41 in good preaching.
14:42 And so I wanted to make paintings that have the kind of density and weight of his words.
14:48 And so it was a matter of finding that material. It wasn’t just oil paint. It had to be something
14:58 else. And I was working with a printer at the time, and he said, well, Warhol, diamond
15:03 dust paintings. I thought, yes, yes, yes. But Warhol’s done
15:07 that. It’s not the right material. And he said, well, there’s this other stuff, magnum.
15:11 What is it? Coal dust. Even before I saw it, I knew that was it, because coal dust is literally
15:21 a waste product from coal processing.
15:24 And Baldwin, in a very famous interview, talks about how the margins of the society, being
15:32 placed on the margins of society, give you a unique perspective to see the society. So
15:40 Baldwin was very interested in the margins. He saw it as a privileged place. He sort of
15:46 lifted the margins up. And so I thought, materially, coal dust was
15:50 the same thing. If I could lift it into the space of art. So that’s where it came from.
15:56 THELMA GOLDEN: And you’ve been using it now for 20–
15:59 GLENN LIGON: Many, many years.
16:01 THELMA GOLDEN: 20-something years. Key to your painting practice.
16:04 THEASTER GATES: That’s so good.
16:05 THELMA GOLDEN: The coal dust? You’ve never heard that before?
16:06 THEASTER GATES: That’s really good. I don’t really have anything to say.
16:09 THELMA GOLDEN: You have to tell us a little bit about tar and your father.
16:12 THEASTER GATES: Yeah. So I think that Glenn, when you started out talking about kind of
16:15 the ’60s guys, I think a lot about painting. And I think a lot about glazes, as a potter.
16:19 And I think a lot about labor. And I thought, well, there’s nothing about my practice that
16:32 would enter the genre of painting on the terms of painting. What could I mine from my life
16:46 that would allow me to, as a laborer, suggest that my capacity to labor is equal to or better
16:53 than a painter’s capacity to paint?
16:54 So in a way, I was trying to make level my history of a kind of lack of discipline in
16:58 the arts, but my huge discipline in labor, and then say that there might be a way that
17:07 the value of labor could be equal to, as beautiful, as provocative as what we understand as painting.
17:13 So I started thinking about the rules of roofing.
17:18 So my dad was a roofer, and in my youth, I had to get on top of buildings in the summer,
17:26 in between rains, because after would rain, he would get a bunch of phone calls saying,
17:31 I got a leak. And so it would be right after the rain, so it’s hot and sticky.
17:38 We’d be on top of a roof, and my dad would say there’s a very big mop. You dip the mop
17:45 in this hot tar. The mop is very heavy when you dip it. Maybe 50 pounds. And so you have
17:54 to use your whole body in order to move this mop.
17:56 If you put the mop on the roof and you leave it in one place, it starts to pool. When the
18:00 mop stick was bigger than me, I developed a sense of swordsmanship or calligraphy. Or
18:07 it felt like a dance that my dad would do with this mop because he was quickly trying
18:12 to move tar from one place to another.
18:14 He was not thinking of himself as a dancer on the roof. But there was something very
18:19 elegant that, as I got older and started to think about action painting or people who
18:23 I admired in these other worlds, I was left to also think about my dad.
18:26 So I thought, could roofing, in a way become my elevated practice? And in that way, could
18:39 I start to talk about these very personal narratives, this really obscure marginal material,
18:45 especially to more traditional kinds of arts? But could it actually do something that painting
18:50 might aspire to? And so I found myself really not only thinking about tar, but about the
18:53 vocation of roofing. Like, is there something within the language and in the vocabulary
18:56 of roofing that would offer me something special as an artist, that I might add to the canon
19:04 of the visual arts? And so I just leaned into the material, I know more about roofing than
19:09 I did when I was younger. But that’s because I’m treating roofing as kind of disciplinary
19:13 practice now, not just as a labor, a kind of means to an end.
19:18 THELMA GOLDEN: But in some ways you’re also incorporating the idea of labor–
19:23 THEASTER GATES: Absolutely.
19:24 THELMA GOLDEN: –into the practice that you’re doing, as a whole.
19:28 THEASTER GATES: Absolutely. So I think that in many ways, it’s all an attempt to reclaim
19:35 those things that the world might teach you are actually lowly and making them the kind
19:41 of elevated thing. So that idea that labor, or the labor and discipline that came from
19:49 learning to do this thing, might actually be of great consequence, not only to me and
19:55 my artistic career, but this moment in contemporary art. It’s really exciting.
20:02 THELMA GOLDEN: To position both of you within this moment, there are many ways that, in
20:08 the global contemporary art world, that we can understand different art, different artists,
20:10 the many dialogues that are happening. Do you see your work in the context of either
20:18 place, where you’re making your work, time, this time period or one before it, or just
20:28 through the ideas itself? As curators, we often write the history of
20:35 art and put artists in it in certain places. How would you write yourself and your practice
20:40 into a current history?
20:41 GLENN LIGON: Interesting. One of the things that’s been curious to me is, if you have
20:46 a career that’s long enough, work starts to change its meaning. So the image of hands,
20:51 which will come up eventually, is a piece that I made 20 years ago. And it is this moment
20:59 of testimony, visibility. But in the context of current U.S. social
21:03 history, that gesture of the raised hands has taken on a new meaning because of various
21:10 police shootings and the protests around those. And so I’m doing a show in a couple of weeks
21:17 where I’m going to bring that painting into the show to say two things.
21:23 One is that the moment that we are now, in terms of the relationship of the public to
21:31 the police, is an ongoing issue and is part of what the March on Washington 20 years ago
21:35 was about. So we need to think of these things not as things that just come up and we need
21:42 to respond to as artists, but things we’ve always responding to.
21:48 But also to think about the larger kind of issues, which I guess have always been on
21:57 my work about this question of visibility and invisibility and how, for lots of different
21:59 groups, but for me particularly, African Americans, there has always been this tension about our
22:03 place in the U.S. But that doesn’t quite answer your question.
22:06 So I think the most interesting things to think, for me, is when young artists are interested
22:10 in the work, which means that things that I have been thinking about still have a kind
22:17 of resonance for them and have a kind of utility, and they can move other places from them.
22:22 So I don’t know if that’s– not necessarily about art history. I want to work to be generous.
22:29 And if it still speaks, then I realize, oh, it has been generous in a certain kind of
22:38 way.
22:38 THELMA GOLDEN: I think you’re speaking to the idea that the work from a particular moment
22:44 can have relevance and to artists. I mean, I think we all felt that on the occasion of
22:51 seeing your retrospective at the Whitney. And looking over your over 25 year career
23:00 and seeing the way in which works that you made very early in your career, very specifically,
23:07 in thinking of those moments– the late ’80s, early ’90s– and all of the issues and concerns
23:15 that were informing the way we understood contemporary art.
23:19 But to see that work, then, a few years ago and its relevance to not just a social dialogue,
23:25 but in our historical dialogue. Just to see the trajectory of, truly, your very particular
23:29 but very important and significant shift in the way we talk about painting. That was traced
23:33 through that exhibition.
23:34 So I think that’s what maybe, in saying how you think of your relevance, that that might
23:39 be a way to consider it. How do you think– particularly because, Theaster, your practice,
23:44 as you said, exists in these three buckets. But there’s one aspect of your practice that,
23:48 for some people, they might not understand as art. And that is the work that you do with
23:52 physical spaces, with buildings. And in some ways, I would love for you to answer this
23:55 question of where you see the work situated within an art history, particularly given
23:58 the fact that some of your work, what will live in the world, are these buildings in
24:05 Chicago and if you might describe a little bit about the Dorchester project and what
24:08 that means to your work.
24:09 THEASTER GATES: Right on. So Glenn has also mapped out that there might be a relationship
24:13 between relevance to younger people, to different generations, relevance and generosity, that
24:17 I think that artists may all have that burden. But I think especially in the States, black
24:22 artists carry this burden of the work has to not only mean what it means, it has to
24:27 mean all these other things.
24:29 There are definitely moments when I’m making a work of art when I think, I’m making this
24:35 for myself, I’m making this for my history with my family, and I’m making it as a demonstration
24:45 of a kind of work that might be made. That, in fact, there might be works that I actually
24:50 don’t want to make, but I will make it because it feels like the demonstration of a kind
24:56 of work is important for other people.
24:58 I feel like, in some ways, I don’t even think that I’m always engaged. You’ll say from time
25:03 to time, Thelma, somebody needs to curate that shell. There are times that I’ll make
25:06 that work because I just think that kind of work, that moment, needs to be accounted for
25:10 in this moment. So I have that burden, maybe more than some,
25:13 to not only imagine the internal work of the gift of being an artist and the burden of
25:19 being an artist, but there’s also a kind of gross external work that I feel like is related
25:29 to why a person is put on Earth. It’s like I know that part of my job on Earth is to
25:35 make art, but another part of it has to do with the transformation of neighborhoods.
25:40 And that transformation, we see it happening all the time by large multinational corporations
25:44 that can acquire large tracts of real estate. I’m not actually talking about that. I’m talking
25:53 about the kind of reinvestment that happens in poor neighborhoods by the neighbors who
25:57 decide, we’re going to take care of our neighborhood ourselves and the governmental intervention
26:02 that we’ve been waiting for that may or may not come. We don’t want to wait.
26:07 And so that work, also, of mowing the lawn, sweeping the steps, helping your neighbors
26:13 paint a porch. That kind of everyday, normal work, it feels both like a political gesture,
26:19 like this is the highest work I can do, and just a personal commitment to a place. So
26:25 I think that Dorchester, where I live, it’s become a kind of testament to what happens
26:31 when normal, everyday people put their little cash together and try to do things.
26:38 And I feel like that’s especially poignant here in Madrid, where Madrid, not unlike other
26:45 cities around the world, struggles with an amazingly talented, creative group of people
26:51 who don’t have jobs. And I think about unemployment in my hood, and I think, wow. There are things
26:59 that we can do when we’re unemployed to make money.
27:03 Those things aren’t always legal. They don’t always make sense within a particular kind
27:10 of framework. So what are the alternatives to those things, when you’re trying to be
27:16 a good and just and creative people, when you can’t buy paints and you can buy paintbrushes?
27:24 And so I think that constantly asking that question of, so then what are the alternatives,
27:36 creatively, that would allow me to feel like I’m contributing to the world in a good way?
27:46 And so I think that the work is born out of that. It’s born out of really humble materials.
27:53 And I think that it’s both the creation of work, but then also the demonstration of what’s
28:02 possible that drives me. Why that seems relevant is that I think we’re not in a moment where
28:09 one can just think about art and not think about the rest of the world.
28:14 And so it’s that tension between the possibilities within art but also the possibility that art
28:23 could be one of the solutions, as weird as that might sound– and it’s not everybody’s
28:29 deal– that art might actually offer a way, different from other ways, that could be quite
28:37 productive in culture.
28:38 THELMA GOLDEN: And do you think, as we are in the 21st century, that this is a definition
28:46 of an artist in the 21st first century, that acknowledgement of the place of art, not just
28:56 in the world of art, but in the world itself? That you, in some ways, are marking a path
29:04 of how an artist might work and live differently, but in response to the needs and conditions
29:09 of the moment?
29:10 THEASTER GATES: Yes, but I also think that the conversation isn’t just about what artists
29:19 can do. It happens that artists might lead the conversation about how the world could
29:27 be more engaged with itself. But this is also for the banker and the accountant and the
29:35 civil engineer, that wherever we are in our vocations, there’s the possibility that the
29:38 world needs more of us than just what our 9:00 to 5:00 needs from us.
29:41 And that if there’s not a willingness to at least distribute our capacity, if not our
29:45 resources, our capacity, then we’ll find that there’s greater and greater chasms between
29:51 those that have a lot and those that don’t have so much.
29:57 THELMA GOLDEN: Glenn, what’s the role of beauty in your work?
30:02 GLENN LIGON: I guess beauty is always a way to draw people into the issues the work is
30:10 about. I often say this, and I kind of mean it seriously, that it’s very easy to make
30:17 a beautiful thing. Or it’s easy for me.
30:21 But I mean that coal dust, in and of itself, is a very beautiful material. And that’s what’s
30:27 interesting to me because it is this waste product. So looking at the surface of these
30:28 paintings– and let me apologize. I was saying, oh you’ll see images coming up [INAUDIBLE]
30:30 but on our screens here, the slide show is still going.
30:32 THELMA GOLDEN: Ignore that.
30:33 GLENN LIGON: So I’m going to ignore that. But in terms of the materials or the formal
30:38 issues in the work, beauty is a huge, important part, because often, I find that it’s a way
30:44 to get people engaged with things they wouldn’t be engaged in.
30:48 So I remember I did a very big installation using Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs of
30:54 black men. And this installation had many, many texts that had to be read in order to
31:01 understand the piece. And one critic said that I was a closet formalist when he looked
31:07 at the piece, which is ironic, given Mapplethorpe’s images of homoerotic images of black men.
31:12 Closet formalist.
31:14 But I think what he meant was, or what I choose to think he meant was that he was surprised
31:20 that I could do something that had a kind of social content but also was formally rigorous.
31:24 And somehow those things were separated for him. But they aren’t separated from it. They’re
31:27 a way to engage people.
31:29 THELMA GOLDEN: And Theaster, what is the role of truth in your work?
31:33 THEASTER GATES: Truth. Well, the beauty one is actually in some ways related to truth,
31:37 that when I think about public housing in Europe– in London, they call it council housing–
31:42 folk who have housing needs and then the government tries to respond to that. Often, when we think
31:48 about poverty, we think about it in terms of there’s this basic need, and we should
31:51 solve it for as many people as possible.
31:53 But the possibility of that built within that basic need, that truth, that people should
32:00 care for the needs of the poor, that we would exempt beauty from truth, abhors me. That
32:06 we would imagine that a building, no matter what price it’s built at, couldn’t have inherent
32:08 beauty in it or a kind of inherent truth and that truth be related to the thoughtfulness
32:16 around how people live or the dignity around how people live.
32:19 It means that someone hasn’t done all the math or that there were people left from the
32:23 table that should’ve been at the table. And so I think that, in some ways, my projects
32:33 have tried to keep those things well connected, that one can’t have truth, fully, without
32:40 observing how important the quality of life is, the possibility of something poetic happening
32:49 in truth.
32:50 And I think that it’s that poetry– which could be the poetry of limestone or the poetry
32:57 of marble or the poetry of a very rare wood, but it could also be the poetry of pine or
33:03 the poetry of twigs– that it’s not relegated to a kind of material. It’s just– and I’m
33:07 looking at Michael around this– it’s really like how one uses whatever one has to make
33:12 the most beautiful and poetic moments possible.
33:15 And so I think that there is a kind of truth in that, in that there is a problem of housing.
33:23 There’s a problem of violence. But the difference between me and another kind of public official
33:26 might be I want to solve that problem beautifully, as well as truthfully, not just pragmatically.
33:30 That there’s a lot of room in there for more.
33:35 THELMA GOLDEN: And the room and the space for that narrative is created with art.
33:39 THEASTER GATES: That’s right. I think that’s how artists are different from other kinds
33:42 of people who have to solve very, very hard problems. You’re looking at deficits that
33:47 are in the trillions of dollars, and you’re thinking about hundreds of thousands, if not
33:51 millions of people that need to be housed. You think, how can we do that?
33:55 And then you watch squatters do it beautifully, do it elegantly. It’s like, wow, there are
33:59 ways in which the world wants for itself, dignity. All people want a kind of dignity.
34:03 And it’s just like, how do you get to it? And I think that that’s kind of artistic question.
34:11 THELMA GOLDEN: Thank you. I’m going to ask if there are any questions for these two gentlemen
34:17 here. Is there a microphone, or should we just– because I think there’s one here and
34:21 then one over there.
34:22 SPEAKER 1: Yeah We’re waiting for the microphone.
34:24 THEASTER GATES: Please.
34:25 THELMA GOLDEN: Yeah, we can hear her.
34:27 AUDIENCE: About the beauty, I was thinking– I’m from Colombia– and for Africa, the legacy
34:35 that lives in the Pacific coast and in some places in the Caribbean coast. The culture
34:39 moves towards day life, the food, the music. And coming back to the beauty, when I see
34:42 these cultural expressions, it’s like their history has so many painful chapters that
34:49 they try to become all that, all the pain into beauty. Into joy.
34:53 So from these painful events, like discrimination or all this, they transform it into a dance
34:58 or a theater or a play for them. So that changes the meaning of this event, of this historical
35:08 moment. So what I wanted to ask if it’s beauty, not in the aesthetic way, as part of your
35:16 work, but as a way to transform that event or that character that can have this historical
35:19 [INAUDIBLE].
35:20 GLENN LIGON: Great question. There’s an essay by Ralph Ellison on the blues, that music.
35:25 And he says that the blues is personal catastrophe expressed lyrically. So the idea of trauma,
35:29 loss, but expressed in this form, that’s fantastic to hear. That’s beautiful music.
35:33 And so those things are always together. It’s a very perceptive kind of framing of using
35:39 beauty to change and transcend.
35:40 THEASTER GATES: It also felt like, in your question, there’s this word, “beauty,” but
35:45 then under that is like, “to suffer.” That in the same way that we think of other kinds
35:51 of sufferings that end up having poetic consequence, I think that we’re all, that I’m thinking
35:56 of– say, Anselm Kiefer’s work or parts of the history of Kara Walker’s work– that there
36:01 are these moments where the catastrophe is evident.
36:04 But then there are other kinds of work that refuse to evidence the catastrophe, itself.
36:06 They say, I’m not going to show a lynch scene. I’m going to show the tree and the people
36:14 in the absence of the lynched person. And that there’s something also in the resistance
36:25 to over acknowledging the catastrophe that starts to create resistance and resilience.
36:31 That it’s in there, but inside, you’re already doing the work of converting.
36:32 And so I think that in that converting work, you’re acknowledging. You’re acknowledging
36:35 suffering. You’re acknowledging the catastrophe. But it’s also like you’re overcoming. And
36:41 I think that that tension between the catastrophe and overcoming is really important.
36:45 THELMA GOLDEN: Fantastic. There’s another question over here. Can we get the microphones
36:49 coming to you, across?
36:50 AUDIENCE: Well, first of all, thank you so much for being here. This is so exciting,
36:54 to see your faces and to hear you talk about your work. I actually have two questions I’ll
37:01 try to make them brief. But the first one has to do with this idea of visibility and
37:07 invisibility that we seem to be talking about or you seem to be struggling with or finding
37:16 a way to overcome in your art.
37:18 So I guess my question– and I ask this myself, so to be fair– is this idea of what is it
37:29 about racism that renders us invisible as black people? What is the impetus of that?
37:37 Is that the idea to cover up the catastrophe and the trauma that created the community
37:50 of African-American people in the United States?
37:52 It’s just a question asking myself. And I feel like, in the work that you do, maybe
37:58 you don’t have a specific answer. But something about the way that you express your work or
38:05 the way that you work is an answer to that. Does that make sense?
38:12 THELMA GOLDEN: That’s it. I would say, as a curator, who has been committed to the presentation
38:20 of artworks that explore these issues, that actually, the invisibility and visibility
38:29 stand side by side. That there is, on the one hand, sometimes a lack of acknowledgment
38:37 of the broad and deep history which creates an invisibility.
38:42 But then there’s also a hyper-visibility that’s created through the way in which our histories
38:44 play out, so that they’re actually– this isn’t an opposition, as much as it’s two experiences
38:51 happening at the very same time. And for me, as a curator, what has made art
39:00 always so important to me personally, but also really important to me professionally,
39:04 in the space of making exhibitions, is the fact that artists– these two artists and
39:09 many more– actually are able to allow us to understand the complexity of those two
39:17 conditions through the work itself. So it asks as many questions about, that, that provide
39:24 us with the possibility to understand it as the work’s answer.
39:29 And that’s what I think makes, for me, the way in which art can be our way into the complex
39:36 questions that history and life and identity and culture ask, how we can answer them.
39:41 GLENN LIGON: Also, Theaster was talking about value. And it really struck me that so much
39:46 of his practice, roofing, the value of labor, the value of archives that need to be dusted
39:56 off and re-presented. And then people offering you archives because they suddenly realize
40:01 there’s this artist who knows how to do this, how to make these things visible, how to raise
40:08 their value.
40:08 But also working in the neighborhood, too. Dorchester, if people don’t know Chicago,
40:14 is a very disenfranchised neighborhood. So to be there and do that gesture of, city garbage
40:19 truck isn’t coming today? I’m going to sweep, because this neighborhood has value. Tied
40:24 in with questions of visibility and invisibility, but really it just struck me when he was talking
40:29 about this question of value comes into these questions of visibility.
40:32 AUDIENCE: My second question’s actually related to the Dorchester project. I was hoping, Glenn,
40:36 maybe you could speak a little bit more specifically. I was just really struck by what you said
40:41 about creating alternatives to disenfranchisement or the way that art can be a way out.
40:47 And thinking about the situation in Spain, in terms of so many people being disenfranchised
40:49 from work and from maybe a way of life that they had once had. I don’t know. I just wanted
40:56 to hear some more specific examples about what you’re doing in the community and how
41:04 that plays out.
41:04 THEASTER GATES: So I’ll kind of relate this to also racism and kind of learning from others.
41:09 When I got to a certain point in my ceramics learning, my instructor said that I needed
41:13 to go to Japan. So I went to Japan, to this small town, Tokoname.
41:17 And Tokoname is just a small industrial town, and just outside the town are very poor Japanese
41:23 people who manage to grow their own vegetables. And they manage these rice paddies. When I
41:27 was biking through this countryside, I was really struck at how beautiful the architecture
41:34 was– traditional Japanese vernacular architecture, wooden structures, shacks.
41:38 And I thought that I was in the middle of a kind of middle class provincial Japan, when
42:02 in fact, I was in dirt bucket poor folk who were growing food because they needed to eat
42:25 it. And if there any excess, they could sell it a little bit.
42:32 When I started to get to know people in this area, what I realized was that the way that
42:42 they viewed their lives was not in terms of fiscal aspiration, but rather a kind of deep
42:51 understanding of the power of spirit inside of materials, inside the world, a kind of
42:59 animist culture. And that, as a result of a deep reverence for that, the way that they
43:13 touched things, the way that they handled materials was very different.
43:20 It was a very different mindset from, say, my mindset, which was like if the wood wasn’t
43:29 new or if it wasn’t a particular type of wood, I wouldn’t use it. But they’d were like, no,
43:37 this wood has an airy quality, too. We should exploit that.
43:44 And so I mention that because I think that when I got back to the States, I started to
43:54 think about my own history with poverty differently, my relationship to Mississippi differently.
44:03 I was like, wow, their fish shack looks like my fish shack, but because it’s in Japan,
44:12 maybe I think this fish shack is a little cuter, when in fact, it’s just two poor fish
44:19 shacks.
44:20 As I started to kind of mine local things, I started thinking about all of the amazing
44:33 people in my neighborhood who were doing things but I’d never get the same reverence and awe
44:38 as I did when I saw this other thing. So could I start to employ this idea of a kind of animism,
44:44 this deep respect for things and maybe the god inside of things?
44:51 That I would have more reverence than the thing itself might warrant, and that could
44:58 that be a way of approaching art in a more sophisticated way? Or could it be a way of
45:03 approaching community redevelopment in that there’s a two-flat on the block. It’s an abandoned
45:07 building. It has inherent value.
45:08 It has inherent value. It doesn’t have market value. It has inherent value. If I could exploit
45:14 the inherent value in the object, this house, and then use it for the highest purposes possible–
45:22 to keep an archive, to show some films, to feed some folk, to have a house that’s a house
45:28 for poetry, and all we do is read in it– that there might be something worth mining.
45:34 And that if I could concentrate on its inherent value, that maybe eventually, its market value
45:39 might shift. But even if it doesn’t, could we all value things inherently, rather than
45:45 things market-based? And so that became a kind of way of working through beauty, truth,
45:53 aesthetics, community engagement, without it having to be those things, but just by
46:05 saying things have value. Let’s find it.
46:14 And sometimes you find it by like ripping off the dusty, ugly paneling, tearing up the
46:20 nasty, pissy carpet, sweeping, sweeping, sweeping– but doing everything you can to get to an
46:22 inherent value. And what I found is that the more you strip back, the more you find a beauty
46:30 and a truth.
46:31 THELMA GOLDEN: Thank you. Behind you.
46:33 AUDIENCE: Hi. So I have a question that actually refers to something that has been mentioned
46:44 during your conversation, which is the role of the 21st century artist and how he or she
46:51 cannot ignore some of the current affairs that are affecting the world in general. I
46:57 guess we would be talking about some type of artistic individual’s social responsibility.
47:02 But in a way, this kind of responsibility’s always kind of forced into minority groups.
47:08 Like, I’m a black man. I was born and raised in Spain. I always get this question– how
47:13 is that you were born here?
47:14 It’s already in my introduction. I have to explain myself all the time. And then if you
47:18 think of anybody who goes to see a show, as soon as they see that the artist is black,
47:26 there’s all these projections in there.
47:28 And it’s already [INAUDIBLE], because by the time an artist is producing, there is already
47:34 a conversation. How am I going to justify my work? How am I going to pretend that I
47:41 know what I’m talking about or let them believe that I know what I’m talking about?
47:46 So my question is it seems being black or being a woman or being of a minority, you’re
47:52 already kind of forced into becoming a militant. Are we missing the most intimate kind of black
47:59 artists or artists who just happen to belong to a minority that happens to be a current
48:09 affair? Are we missing that internal world?
48:13 And my question to both artists here would be have you found yourself censoring your
48:20 most intimate artist and the benefit of participating in the conversation and letting those external
48:26 conversations dictate your art and your choices?
48:29 GLENN LIGON: Well, I think, in the end, that’s sort of what I had talked about when I was
48:40 talking about putting a piece from 20 years ago in a show now, is to say that the concerns
48:50 that I have as an artist precede certain kinds of debates. Or they are formed out of larger
48:56 questions than the individual things that people think I need to respond to, IE, Ferguson.
49:02 But I understand there is this pressure to respond And it does become stultifying. It
49:08 becomes hard in the studio. But I think there’s so many different levels of responding, too.
49:15 So I don’t want to say that I make work because I feel like I need to make something about
49:24 this issue now, because it’s in the world.
49:27 But I think those issues being in the world changes the work, in some ways. Different
49:34 level. I don’t know if I can say it clearly, but I think those issues in the world do change
49:50 the work, change the direction of the work, change where you’re looking at.
49:56 THEASTER GATES: For some reason when you first started your question, I thought about Joan
50:03 Baez choosing to join particular protest moments and offer her voice as part of a set of national
50:09 voices. I thought about Paul Robeson, who these moments– Fannie Lou Hamer.
50:13 They were inside of their artistic sphere, which was, in a way, completely separate.
50:18 There’s nothing about that form over there that made them having a political voice relevant.
50:24 And then for Muhammad Ali to say, I’m not going to play. I’m not going to go. I’m not
50:30 going to take the draft. That those moments when an artist decides–
50:34 black or otherwise– that there’s a kind of duty beyond their artistic duty to say something
50:40 to the world. Those are really important and heroic moments. And then, in this case, it’s
50:48 not always about what you make. It’s sometimes about what you choose not to make.
50:56 It’s about a withdrawal that sometimes happens in the world, a non-participation, like when
51:02 Walid Rod says, I’m not going to participate in this [INAUDIBLE]. They’re very important
51:04 moments to me.
51:05 But I think that there are also times when abstraction or at least why I feel so akin
51:13 to Glenn and why, also, I have an affinity towards certain moments is that the work also
51:16 allows me the freedom to not have to play, do battle at such a low, generic level of
51:24 racism that actually the things that are on my mind are so much more complex than the
51:30 choice to disregard some people because of some systemic injustice.
51:33 That actually, I’m thinking about all these other ways in which the work might advance
51:39 a set of things that I believe in. Sometimes those things are about my family, my people,
51:46 that. But then there are times when the move forward has to be a much more complicated
51:54 move that moves everybody forward.
51:56 So the beauty of a certain kind of gross artistic practice is that it’s trying to do this with
52:04 as wide a reach possible than like this. And the challenge is always that when you do this,
52:13 you want your people to know that you’re also doing this. But you don’t want this to make
52:16 people feel like they’re not relevant. And so I think that there is this tension.
52:21 But when I’m thinking about roofers or when I show this work or when I made this work
52:24 that used these retired, decommissioned fire hoses, that lots of different kinds of people
52:28 have seen themselves on roofs and have used fire hoses or have known these hoses or have
52:33 complicated relationships with shining shoes. It ain’t just something that’s relegated to
52:36 the black experience. And So when those people come, and they want to
52:39 give me a hug, and they would be all like, OK, fine. Great.
52:41 THELMA GOLDEN: And I think your question really speaks to something that I think about a lot,
52:48 because the Studio Museum was founded in 1968 as a museum devoted to black artists. And
52:53 this question, the struggle that you presented, was inherent to the mission of the museum
52:57 to create the widest possibility for black artists to operate in many different ways,
53:00 right, and for all of those to be relevant to art and to the culture.
53:05 And 46 years later, that continues to be our mission. But it’s one that has to be continually
53:11 thought about because there are many different ways in which an artist can exist as a creative
53:17 visionary but also as a citizen. And sometimes, the times demand both in equal measure. And
53:24 at other moments, artists can retreat, and that retreat is the most powerful thing they
53:30 can do for the advancement of the culture, itself.
53:33 I think we have time for one more question. Right here in the middle. Could you pass down
53:39 the mic to this gentlemen? Thanks.
53:42 AUDIENCE: Thank you. Thank you for coming and sharing with us. Theaster, I was thinking
53:46 about your work and particularly the work you’re curating in Dorchester. I was wondering
53:51 how you feel that a specific practice that is inherently long term and involves [INAUDIBLE]
54:00 in the place. Because as far as I understand, it’s kind of neighborhoods’ artists, specifically
54:05 the part where you are developing [INAUDIBLE] cooperative. That has to have a function in
54:11 itself, has to have an economical structure, and to be long term.
54:17 How do you feel it can still be breathing with institutional and curatorial translation
54:21 into the institution? So have you been somehow confronted with demand to be reproducing that
54:25 kind of long term action into kind of a more like a display system?
54:33 And then I was wondering, the art object. What is the role of the art object, then,
54:41 as a kind of translation of those processes? And then my second question would be, as well,
54:52 how do you get to rid of the usual questioning that often happens in this kind of engaged
54:59 processes, regarding the question of beatification, equality, gentrification, or maybe a kind
55:05 of pushing into that undesirable direction?
55:06 THEASTER GATES: Wow. So this is where the rubber meets the road, in a way. From studying
55:12 urban planning, one of the things that was always really clear to me is that neighborhoods
55:18 change. They change for lots of different reasons. The neighborhood that I lived in
55:25 that is now all black, 30 years ago was largely Jewish, 40 years ago was 90 percent Jewish.
55:30 The bank that I’m in the process of restoring, it was a German-Irish bank, then a Jewish
55:35 bank. Then it was owned by the Nation of Islam, which is a black Islamic regime or group.
55:40 And that now that the neighborhood has less to offer, it seems like it’s the neighborhood
55:46 for which everyone, if they can, they leave. They leave.
55:48 And that leaving feels like a kind of erosion, like land erosion. Like the trees are gone,
55:53 and because the trees are gone, the soil has nothing to hold onto. And so, in some ways,
55:58 I feel like this work I’m doing is it’s not about the soil. It’s about the tree planting.
56:05 That there’s a kind of, how can we create some kind of anchor moments that will be big
56:13 enough symbolically in the world, in the city, in that neighborhood? And they have to operate
56:20 at all these different levels. How can we plant these trees so that we at least start
56:27 to stabilize the soil that is there?
56:29 And then, if the soil is stable, then leaves will come. They will compost. Birds will shit.
56:37 Things will grow. And that the kind of nutrient that happens only happens when you can start
56:43 to stabilize certain things. So in one way that I think about Dorchester is it feels
57:06 like tree planting. And I can’t do everything, but I can plants and trees.
57:11 And in this case, the trees are 30 buildings in a neighborhood that has 7,500 buildings.
57:18 Five commercial spaces in a neighborhood that has about 2000 commercial spaces. But these
57:25 spaces that I’m creating, I’m trying to create them with enough poetic and symbolic potency
57:33 that it actually feels like much more than that.
57:40 Because of where we are in the city– like if this is the city center, we’re like here,
57:52 way out here– there’s no threat of a certain kind of inevitable traditional gentrification
57:57 because our city tends to gentrify in rings around really big trees that are already there,
58:05 so that there’s some rings. But at least in this place, what I’m interested
58:12 in is who might be attracted and staying. And as a result of staying, who might those
58:19 people who are staying attract? So now that Thelma comes to visit my neighborhood– this
58:23 is very nice, Glenn, come visit my neighborhood– that the neighborhood has a new– there are
58:30 artists who are interested in being around. They don’t necessarily want to live there,
58:36 but they want to be around.
58:41 And this is already a great– like the bird who flies by and shits. This is like the people.
58:53 But people do ask about gentrification a lot, and I think that what that question, what
58:58 the word implies when people ask me, often is, will you displace those who are already
59:06 here with your art project?
59:09 And that would require that you understand the amount of gross blight and available land
59:16 and abandoned buildings, the devastation that has happened from years and years of neglect.
59:20 So in some ways, my alderman or my mayor would say, bring it on. Gentrification.
59:24 But it’s not just that it’s. Not any kind of thing is OK here. It should be an actually
59:31 curated, very intentional set of things, so that there’s some things that are actually
59:38 very needed, like we need a library. So it’s like, well, let’s build a library. We need
59:44 healthy restaurants and grocery stores. So in some ways, I think the art is trying to
59:48 get at a demonstration of what a small grocery store might look like. And then maybe a grocery
59:53 store would be willing to move.
59:55 So it’s almost like if I were a grocery store maker, I would not move to this neighborhood
60:01 to build my grocery store, right? And so grocery stores don’t move there. But if I’m an artist
60:09 who’s making a political attempt at saying, how dare you, grocery store, not be here,
60:15 that then I can poetically create a grocery store that might actually turn into a real
60:24 grocery store.
60:24 So that relationship between the symbolic and the real is very necessary, I think. And
60:32 I think it’s a thing that artists and creative institutions can do better. It’s reasonable
60:38 that the Reina Sofia could say, hey, Theaster, we want to commission you to create a grocery
60:45 store on Dorchester. And then you can import your food to– [INAUDIBLE].
60:49 THELMA GOLDEN: Fantastic.
60:50 MICHAEL: I have a question.
60:53 MICHAEL: I’m not supposed to ask the questions.
60:56 THELMA GOLDEN: Please, Michael.
60:57 MICHAEL: [INAUDIBLE]. First I want to thank you three of you who are friends. And I feel
61:01 so honored that you would come to Spain and do this for us and for all these people, because
61:06 I get to share your experience and your life force all the time. And I feel so incredibly
61:11 honored to have you here. It’s a joy for all of us. And it’s extraordinary conversation
61:15 and really powerful.
61:16 My question is you all carry a lot of weight and a lot of sense of responsibility, both
61:22 social and personal. What’s next? Who’s behind you? Is Dorchester, are there– you said the
61:28 artists– are there people who are behind you, other people who are going to continue
61:32 the message that is not just of this time but of the future? And do the artists behind
61:43 you have the same feeling of responsibility and a burden, almost, to share this experience?
61:51 Or is it deluding because it’s better? Is it cathartic because it’s better? Or is it
61:57 the same? Are they just as potent and just as powerful and impactful, behind you?
62:03 GLENN LIGON: I think It’s interesting to notice how many artists work collectively now. Young
62:08 artists coming out of art schools who form these groups, which wasn’t the norm when I
62:19 was coming out of school. And they come to form these groups partially because they’re
62:32 interested in creating structures that don’t participate in the market in the ways that
62:45 they’re told they should participate. So I think that’s actually very– given the
62:56 markets in the United States– is very large and hyped up I think it’s a really good sign
63:13 that these young artists feel like they need a little space from that to create their work.
63:22 And this sort of idea of these collectives is one way to do that. I think it’s really
63:41 interesting development.
63:43 THEASTER GATES: I do think that, like I was commenting to Glenn in the car over, that
63:56 the first time that I saw Glenn talk and the first time that I met him was really inspiring,
64:08 aspiring, and that it was the first time that I had met an artist of such public renown.
64:21 And he was in this little classroom at the University of Chicago, giving this talk. And
64:33 it was like he was so much smarter than anybody else in the room. And it made me want to read
64:58 more and write more and be a better artist, in a way. And so I think that, in some ways,
65:10 one never knows the consequence of their engagement with the world.
65:15 I mean, we have a staff. I think my staff will perpetuate these ideas we have. But I
65:23 also think that there are those chance encounters. And so what I’ve tried to commit to is continuing
65:33 to make room for chance encounters and for public conversations and for mentorship and
65:43 all those things.
65:44 But also, I feel like when I talk to Glenn, I actually still feel like a student. It’s
66:01 kind of an honor to do this. So I think it’s really important that we not get so separate
66:16 from the rest of the world that the world can’t feel the presence of the power, because
66:26 I actually think that that is part of the generative work.
66:33 THELMA GOLDEN: And I think the answer is yes, there are. There are artists, there are curators,
66:49 there are institutions that are all forming themselves in new ways to think about the
66:59 way in which art, artist, object, and audience can all have a different relationship to each
67:07 other and to themselves and to the world.
67:17 And I think, for many of us, it really is not just our purpose, but it’s really the
67:33 privilege of
67:55 the possibility that this is possible. So I think the answer is yes.
68:13 And on behalf of all of us, I want to thank you all, Ambassador Costos, Mr. Smith, Virginia
68:29 Shore Art in Embassies, all of your colleagues from the embassy here and the Reina Sofia
68:50 for having us, because really, in many ways, this is the work we do.
69:14 But it’s also about
69:43 a life of living in the world now, kind of representing the possibility, right, of what
70:11 our culture, our history is, and how through art, we can be in the world. And I know for
70:38 all of us, we take that responsibility really seriously, but also really are grateful for
70:54 the opportunity to kind of live within the space of our art and our work. So thank you. Thank you to
74:02 all
74:17 of you. Thank you.
74:29 Thank you both. You were fantastic. Thank you.