A conversation with Tricia Collins, New York, New York
Tricia Collins is a pioneer in independent curating. She organized her first show in 1980 in the East Village. In 1982, she took a partner and became the Collins in the creative curatorial duo we all remember: Collins & Milazzo. Collins has been editor and publisher of several art magazines such as Effects and 99: Turn of the Century Magazine and she has been an active force in the New York and international art scene. Now a gallerist (Tricia Collins * Grand Salon) she graciously accorded me a morning interview at her SoHo space. We spoke about her work and, of course, about art . . .
"I am motivated by curiosity and my own sense of how to create meaning, whether historical or conceptual. The presumption I make is that anyone can participate in history. More than anything else I am guided by inner-necessity as opposed to the opinions of others, or matters of commerce, or whatever, when thinking about art. I avoid executive or clerical decisions. I have been given the gift or talent to know what is good and I make it my business to be an advocate of that."
As the conversation evolved, Tricia spoke about her relationship with other art dealers. "There are many terrific dealers who are committed to doing something outstanding. For the most part they are not well enough appreciated. Generally they show good art, publish good catalogues, all without the benefit of a gift shop or government funding."
Regarding the state of the arts, Tricia recognized new conceptual art as a movement reaching an end. "As you know, I have a pretty solid background in art that is conceptually based. Presently, that kind of art is in a very mannered form, this is the state that precedes complete depletion. When you can see something like this happen it is because it is on its way out . . . What's next? I really do think that a more binocular thing is going to happen. It's a strange thing to say this--there is the spiritual and the religious in art now, utilizing repetition and at least some attempts to represent the eternal. I don't know if it is a peculiar feeling and stranger still to say, but I am pretty sure that the impulse of God is definitely back. Maybe it's just that we need relief from theoretics and this impulse fills that need . . . it reminds me of looking back at Existentialism. Looking back on it--not that Existentialism is not there anymore--I think that Existentialism exists in all teenagers, but it is only a chemical state of being. No one talks about Existentialism anymore and it seems inappropriate right now, as it does not seem to provide what we need. These things seem more cultural than ontological. I believe that even though I have a gallery now, which is a fairly public thing to do, I feel more private than I ever have. I don't think that's just me, but I feel I am always pretty much ahead of what is going to happen. I think that those feelings we are discussing are out there, I just don't think that they have taken cultural shape or form yet. Irony, too, has played itself out but ironically . . . I feel that if I go too long without it, I'll need some again, because it will offer an edge. But irony, for now, is quite dissatisfying . . . We have reached a point where dialectical thinking should also be passé. We have a responsibility to try to think in the most difficult way possible, which is a more holistic way of doing it; if you use the model of ecology in a general way--I don't mean thinking about ecology per se, but the state of mind that one would have to be in to understand ecology--it is quite different than being a proponent of something and being an opponent of something else. The very shape of thinking has to change . . . it's not about an either/or situation; it must be rounder and more inclusive, rather than dialectical . . ."
To finish, Collins made a wise and appropriate comment: "I believe art can be made out of anything. Whether one uses a computer or a paint brush as an instrument, it can turn out to be a good piece of art regardless. But if it is not motivated by inner necessity, it will be design rather than art."