Make Things Happen

28 August 2007

Discussing Tom McCarthy’s book Remainder with Hugo, which I wrote about already here. As we’re talking we get on to artists and Hugo’s describing a conversation he had with Paola Pivi, whose extraordinary staged scenes, often involving displaced animals, or large objects or people, in relation to extreme or unexpected landscapes, he has often worked on with her. Paola’s is the donkey in the motorboat stranded motionless on a flat sea, the helicopter overturned and rested on its rotorblades, the pair of zebras stood in the mountainous snow, the alligators turned and swirling in lakes of cream. H. says that sometime ago Paola wondered aloud to him if, aside from the demands of having to make tangible work, she might prefer not to photograph these scenes at all – confirming in the end that she’d rather just stage them as events; to organise the logistics, make things happen and then simply sit back to watch.

I wondered since about the difference between the compulsion to write something into existence and the compulsion to actually make something happen. Perhaps there isn’t so much difference as one might think, at least if you believe what Burroughs wrote in The Adding Machine, where he sees writing as kind of magical or political practice that makes things happen in consciousness, in order to see those same things made manifest at some future point; that “the purpose of writing“, he says “is to make things happen“.


Somehow related (I think).

In Berlin at the weekend during the artists talk/discussion at HKDW, William Pope L. said something like this (any error caused by my slow typing):

I guess I’m interested in making interventions inside people’s heads.
Kind of like neuroscience for theatre. That would be good you know – to build a sculpture actually inside peoples consciousness… and then do shit in there.

(Works best if you can imagine the ironic (?) mad-scientist glee with which William laughed after saying this).