The “U-Lounge” is one of two works I made for the collective exhibition “Common Wealth” at ‘Tate Modern’ in 2003. The other work is “Hotel Democracy”. With the title
“U-Lounge” I wanted to avoid the word “Utopian” that’s why I called this work “U-Lounge”, “U” as “U-turn” or “U” as “University”. To me making Art is not utopian, it is not dreaming or escaping reality. I am against terms like “Micro-Utopia”. I am sceptical about many theories of Utopia. I think that these theories today are often excluding others, they are exclusive and luxurious. Utopia is not an impossible mission and Utopia is too serious to be left for architects and designers. Utopia is not fashionable – Reality is not fashionable, Utopia is not glamorous – Reality is not glamorous, Utopia is not cool – Reality is not cool, Utopia is not correct – Reality is not correct. With the work “U-Lounge” I express what wealth means for me. The common wealth. “U-Lounge” is a space for poetry, philosophy, art, to me this is the wealth. This is the universal, common wealth. (The other work I made – “Hotel Democracy” – wants to express what is the universal common, the common wealth).
In “U-Lounge” I put self-made replicas of works by Marcel Duchamp and the Vorticists.
I specifically wanted to confront the “Rock Drill” of Jacob Epstein with the “Bicycle Wheel”
of Marcel Duchamp, both works made in 1913. I wanted to link together the ready-made of Duchamp with the ‘half-ready-made’ of Epstein, to point out what could be the common wealth within these two works and what could the difference be, a ‘half-ready-made’ is not a ready-made. Epstein with the fantastic “Rock Drill” does not see in his own work the key to a new kind of sculpture, while Duchamp by signing a ready-made – the revolutionnary “Bicycle Wheel”, without signature – reinforces artist’s authorship. Duchamp establishes a new kind of authorship, he creates a new wealth. “U-Lounge” is an attempt to paste together Utopia and Reality, the Utopia of Duchamp’s “Bicycle Wheel” and the Reality of Epstein’s “Rock Drill”. In “U-Lounge” I bring together the desire of Utopia and the dimension of Reality, I want to make those terms inseparable. I want to make them one. There is no practice (Reality) on one part and theory (Utopia) on the other part. I want to remove the distance or the difference between Utopia and Reality in the same movement, in the same action and in the same artwork.
I try to involve the visitor. Involvement to me, does not have the same meaning as interactivity, I’m not for interactivity. I’m for activity. The activity of thinking. Someone
who is looking at a painting, just looking at a painting, is perhaps active because he is thinking despite the fact that he seems passive ! That’s why in the “U-Lounge” the texts that are there are meant to be taken by the public, I call them ‘integrated texts’. For “U-Lounge” I invited the German philosopher Marcus Steinweg to make the ‘integrated texts’; he wrote specially 44 texts about ‘community’. The texts of Marcus Steinweg are not explanations to be read line by line. The texts are not the content of the work either. These texts are an invitation to take responsibility – the responsibility about which sentence to read and which text to take. I do think that text still has a capacity to resist consumption. It has the capacity to slow-down. I put the texts of Marcus Steinweg in the space, into a third dimension and by doing this I want to slow-down. That’s why I want to integrate texts into my work. These texts are material amongst others used in the “U-Lounge” (wood, cardbord, tape, books). These texts extend my artwork in time out of the exhibition space, they are creating another space, a mental space.
Thomas Hirschhorn, Aubervilliers, May 2006