about zing

neil goldberg
geraldine postel
bertie marshall
tom rayfiel
amra brooks
sergio bessa
lisa kereszi
leopoldo grautoff

sergio bessa

MK- Yes, specially in the early work. I was also, like him, really interested in abstraction at a certain point. For example, he was doing concrete poetry. At a certain period all my writings were abstract -- they were sound things and poems, like some of the work of Raoul Hausmann or Schwitters. I found that interesting, but then I got bored with it after a while, because it didn't have any social resonance. And I really like Fahlström's use of, say, things taken from the newspaper -- facts, big historical things mixed with minor things.

SB- I have recently found a great deal of scatology in Fahlström's work that I didn't see at first.

MK- At the time when I first saw his work I never particularly focused on that aspect of it. I was more interested in how he was able to take diverse things and fit them into a system. But there are scatological elements, especially in his drawings of Richard Nixon. At the time I thought of that more in relation to the comedic politics of the New Left, especially the Yippies. There was a lot of that kind of political scatological humor, which is traditional low political humor -- this defaming kind of thing, like drawings of the president on the toilet.

SB- I was puzzled at first because he is so cerebral and methodical, but on the other hand there are times when these scatological impulses take over. And it is quite explicit in some of his writings.

MK- I think it comes in a way from his politics, the New Left and the politics of liberation. I think it's interesting to think about it in relation to the maps in which he's using shapes of actual countries and then he just starts making them up. This is a kind of fanciful having fun, playing with shapelessness. And he's contextualizing this shape, giving it meaning, and then he just goes back and makes another one. So meaning is really floating in his work, but meaning isn't denied, it's not nihilist, and that's what I really liked about the work.

SB- His work was never self-indulgent.

MK- I didn't really like a lot of expressionist work, or mystical works, where chaos is this unbounded thing, and you never contextualize it, you never bother to make it mean anything. It's always either outside of meaning or incapable of meaning, and I don't think that that's how you think, I don't think that's how you approach the world. You always make things mean something -- you might abandon them, but you make things mean something for the moment because you need to do that. So artwork for me has always been the production of a provisional reality, and then you produce another one, and you produce another one, and you produce another one. But you have to take it seriously; otherwise it doesn't have any psychological or social function at all.

SB- Are you familiar with Fahlström's writings and poetry?

MK- Only the works that were translated into English. The manifesto in which he talks about "bisociation" was a very important piece of writing for me. I was taken with the idea, and I thought it was an interesting manner of working. I don't remember the writing particularly very much, but at the time it seemed to be about having two concepts and finding a resonance between them in order to produce a third concept. I was interested in that, especially since in my school I was being trained in a pretty starchy, formalist way. There was a tendency to think about art in a very primary way -- basic laws, singularity, things being finished and things being of themselves -- essentially based on Greenbergian ideas.

SB- This is exactly what makes it possible for me to associate your work to Fahlström's. "Plato's Cave," for example, has a kind of relentless energy in moving from one issue to the next, and back again, so that we, the readers, never find a safe area to rest. Did you have all these issues laid out before you from the outset, or there were things added as the work progressed?

MK- That particular work started with the issue of the possessive, but once it got rolling I just gave that whole thing up. I didn't even expand on it. And the work became more about developing the themes textually. But a lot of that development was quite formal as well, arising out of various researches into all these various themes. I would write on each subject, and then I would weave them together based on language association and image association, things like that. It became more a process of developing a text. Now, certain of these issues would be discussed, or brought up, but they weren't often expanded upon. The work isn't either didactic or poetic. In all the performances, the way they function through time is that there's contradiction, and so a certain sort of thought is contradicted later on. In general you can say that the work, because of these three themes, is playing with, or maybe debunking these metaphysical myths. But that's not really the point of the work. The point is more a structural one.