Infra-visuel – La vie-matériel

Appendice 3 - interview with Edmund Felson

Marc Buchy – The last time we met at this show of Stanley Brown in Brussels, I remember we talked about means of spectacle and questions of illusivness in the art world.

Edmund Felson – Yes, in this context I always like to refer to the quote by the reporter Sid Hudgens that something is "Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush”. As a way of thinking and acting, never revealing more that is necesariliy needed. I like to work and collaborate with artists whose practices doesn’t necessarily fit in the classical white-cube context. I think the work of my gallery is very much defined through the practice and the approach of each of the artists, shaping and forming what actually constitutes the whole framework of a gallery.

MB – The question of the white-cube as a limitation or a strenght is a central part in this text I wrote about my idea of “infravisual” and what art can be or where art can be presented, it's good to hear a gallerist also questionning it.

EF – I would say most artists don’t even think about questioning exhibition context and what it means. Your artwork Fiducia, as a minimal gesture, a kind of pocket sculpture as you say, living it’s own life, was for us a good challenge and I am happy I was able to present it.

MB – Can you elaborate more on the artists practises shaping the way the gallery functions ?

EF – I think Edmund Felson Gallery is at the same time the sum of the individual practise of each artist I work with, but also a kind of platform, almost like a collective gesture that creates a moment of exchange. I work with many artists with very peculiar and precise practises. They don't necesarily relate to what other artists are doing in their immediate local environment so through the gallery we generate a sort of international network for overlooked or ellusive artistic ideas.

MB– So do you believe that it is possible to avoid the art context today?

EF – For me it is interesting to see how some artists these days are able to find a way to play along in a system they don't necessarily feel comfortable being inside. How to critique a system that you are very much defining through your own presence.

MB – Isn't this a bit paradoxical ?

EF – Yes of course this is often a very thin line. It is a bit like the problem of gentrification - artists are often on the front line of changing the way cities are set up. They are part of the problem simply because the system they are moving in has certain rules and patterns that goes beyond an individual choice. Being critical towards the art system through the artists work is something that is already expected by the institution, it is cannonized, defined through a genre. In this moment the force of the critique that lies in the work almost collapses in itself. So what if we bring the critique out of this context ? Is it possible ? From a theoretical point of view we could look at the system theorie of Niklas Luhmann, especially if we consider the element of communication.

MB – So you are challenging at the same time the expected "collectors"- as you still define yourself as a gallerist - but also approach a broader audience not used to art, art world, are rules etc... It's very brave to fight on both sides haha.

EF – Yes. One of the problem is the social group that preserves the cliche that says everything an artist does is art. A glass of water is art if it is an artist who pours it. If poured by a non-artist, it is non-art. Often, in a gallery or a museum, we will find an insignificant piece which is considered art because people related to the artworld – the only ones actually interested or benefitting from it – are discussing it. By presenting it in other ways immediatly brings a new set of possibilities and rules.While at the same time my gallery of course still exists in this framework of the artworld - so maybe it is a bit about stretching the borders how we preceive art and what constitutes these parameters. What we are left with is a moment of doubt. I find it more interesting to raise questions than to give answers.