Letter to Clare (“Châlet Lost History”) – (2005)

dear Clare,

I am of course not happy about your “consensus”- decision and I could never have agreed with your initial proposal which of course made NO SENSE to me ! I could not believe it ! it was such a bad surprise to me !  Never, ever did I expect such a thing ! (in Chicago I agreed to have an informative inscription – but NO RESTRICTIONS ! I can agree with an INFORMATION TO THE PUBLIC BUT NOT WITH A PUBLIC-RESTRICTION !).

This restriction made me crazy : I have been working and fighting with my artwork for many years in order TO INCLUDE PEOPLE, in order to EXCLUDE NOBODY with and through my artwork. I have been asserting for years that I want to work for a non-exclusive audience – and the Hayward Gallery imagined it possible to RESTRICT the audience !

I am sorry that this point was never discussed with me, and I was about to have you remove my work from the UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE exhibition !  – I am so sorry to say – because this was really not o.k. with me !

People are so AFRAID TODAY, it is really unbelievable – even you, people from the artworld are so afraid ! People are suspecting my artwork, people are suspicious of art, people are suspicious of everything ! My artwork is a slight turmoil in all that happens when LOOTING takes place, when there is TOURISM, when there is WAR, when there is ECONOMICAL PIRACY !

But you, at the Hayward-gallery are afraid of some pictures of sexual-penetrations ! in every bad sex-magazine there are thousands of pictures like this !

I think it is STUPID, because to make such restrictions puts people directly in a situation where something “forbidden” and “scandalous” will happen, it’s so RIDICULOUS !

“Châlet Lost History” is an artwork. “Châlet Lost History” is the intimate place of the nightmare of lost common history, of lost common values and of lost things shared because they are universal and belong to everybody. Hayward is an artgallery, you are working with art, art is not something controlable, art has the power and the forces every instant to go out of control ! Art is not something to which you can put limits. I think there is a profound missunderstanding with your mission within the gallery and the power of art and the possibility of art, when you asked me about justifications regarding the penetration-pictures in my artwork, about shocking, juxtaposed sexual imagery and war and about hardcore images. The recent accounts of “hurricane katrina” gave us a possibility to imagine and think out the absolute nigthmare ! “Châlet Lost History” is a tender work in regard to what happened recently. For a long time PORNOGRAPHY has no longer been limited to sexshops ! the obscenity is not in pornography – the obscenity is in the looting, in the historical-looting, the cultural-looting, the touristical-looting, the economical-looting, the religious-looting and today, the nature-looting ! DO I HAVE TO JUSTIFY THE JUXTAPOSITION OF SEX-PICTURES WITH WAR-PICTURES ! I am dreaming ! I ASK YOU : did you watch television last month and see the armed american soldiers and the helpless and homeless abandoned citizens ? did you see pictures from new orleans ? were you shocked by the pictures from the burning british soldier trying to escape from his tank in irak these past days ? did you see the picture of the armed guard in the new orleans artmuseum in front of a degas-sculpture ? All this is more then justification of an artwork made 2 years before the fall of bagdad !

I have to fight for the autonomy of my artwork and the integrity of it !

I love art, I love every art, I also love bad art ! – and I do BELIEVE in art – IN EVERY ART and I do believe also in bad art ! and I really try to work with and in the chaotic world I am living in, I do not want the chaos, I do not want the provocation and I do not want to shock – but I am living in a shocking, provoking and chaotic world – my mission is to work IN this world – to face it – to struggle with it – to fight with it, my work does not want to bring peace or comfort or quietude in this world – MY WORK WANTS TO BE A CONTRIBUTION TO THE CONFRONTATION WITH THIS WORLD IN TRYING TO ESTABLISH THE CONDITIONS FOR A DIALOG TODAY WITH THE SPECTATOR, WITH A SOVEREIGN AND UNIVERSAL SPECTATOR !

I am very disappointed. I am not complaining, but I am angry – because always, again and again I have to fight – even when things seem clear to me ! – but I will continue to fight for my artwork, for its existence as artwork and not as “hidden-spectacle” and I want to fight against STUPIDITY ! I WANT TO CONTINUE TO TRY TO BE COURAGEOUS ! TO ASSERT ART AS ABSOLUTE FREEDOM ! TO BE HEADLESS AND TO GIVE FORM TO THIS HEADLESSNESS ! I WANT TO BE TRUE TO A NON-ANALYSING ARTWORK, TO A NON-NARCISSISTIC ARTWORK AND TO A NON-CYNICAL ARTWORK. I am not for censorship, I am not for selfcensorship – I would have made the sacrifice not to exhibit my work under the restrictions of the Hayward gallery !

Finally I hope we can solve the problem as in Chicago.


Thomas Hirschhorn