Two misunderstandings (2023)
My refusal to not accept this invitation comes from the fact that my work – the real, the profound and deep ‘drive’ for doing my work – is misunderstood.
There is a first misunderstanding:
As an artist I have always tried to work on my own topics, on my very own problematics – which can also be those of others – but I think it is important that the DRIVE toward a topic comes from me, the artist. I always thought that it is important – as an artist – to resist problematics brought to me by others and/or driven by actuality (even – of course – when they also concern me, or myself!). It is very important to understand this because some artists, and there are many, are sometimes working on problematics of others or commanded by actuality. They are doing it because they have a different understanding than mine, of what doing art today means, and that’s fine – I respect that, because they are perhaps ‘right’ and I am ‘wrong’. But here, the question is: Why ask me instead of the many others who have already done work about migration and immigration issues? Why am I asked, me, the one who doesn’t work on these problematics? Therefore my refusal is the kind of refusal I give when someone – other than myself – is suggesting that I do a ‘monument’ dedicated to some figure other than the ones determined by me: Spinoza, Deleuze, Gramsci, Bataille. The topic I choose, the dedication I decide on, with my work, is a question of FORM, the FORM of my artwork. And if it’s a question of FORM it means that this decision to GIVE this FORM can only come from me. I think that the proposed ‘migration/immigration’ interrogation is a very important subject matter – but does this interrogation come from me, is it part of my FORM-FIELD? My answer is NO.
The second misunderstanding:
If I have tried (with difficulty, with a lot of efforts, and with more or less success) to work with the ‘Non-Exclusive-Audience’, also more specifically with migrants in my workshop “Energy = Yes! Quality = No!” at ‘BombasGens’ in Valencia, (I went twice to the CUETA Centre in Cullera on the seafront, to meet and invite migrants, and also worked with people affected by ‘Down-Syndrom’). I try to work with people belonging to particular communities, or at the border of society or in momentaneous difficult situations. I ALWAYS and EXCLUSIVELY do it because they are part of the ‘Non-Exclusive-Audience’ of art, which I always try to address with the only competence I have as an artist, as someone who loves art, as someone who wants to do an artwork, and as someone who thinks that, as an artist, it is necessary to include and implicate everybody in his artwork – just because art is definitely ‘non-exclusive’. Doing this is to me a matter of FORM, the FORM of my artwork. And because it’s a question of FORM, how can I accept – as an artist – that someone else is already offering me a FORM? Addressing migrants, immigrants or other people momentarily at the edge of society, is never a question of ‘society’ or ‘actuality’, nor a ‘political’- or a ‘research’ one – it’s an art-question! I don’t want to address people for their ‘quality’ of being migrant, or for any other specificity – I want to address people for their ‘quality’ of being part of the ‘Non-Exclusive-Audience’ of art! I understand that to others such differences are unnoticed, non visible or unimportant. And it’s OK, I’m not complaining that this misunderstanding of my work persists – also in the ‘artworld’ – but I, the artist, must be clear – crystal clear – with my engagement as an artist and with my work ethics toward myself.
Thomas Hirschhorn, June 2023