during the exhibition at Xero, Kline & Coma, London, 22 July 2018
Emily Rosamond: I was thinking a lot about the relationship between image and text in this show. I was also thinking a lot about the press release in my reading of the show. It’s quite an incredible piece of writing and it does some really interesting work in framing the painted works. The second thing I’d say is that, for me at least, as a viewer, I was thinking a lot about affect theory – theories of feeling – and I was thinking a lot that maybe the work is asking one to think as rigorously about feeling and affection as one is thinking about propositions, concept and critique – content as it were. So I’ll start off with a simple question, in a way: how do you describe the particularity of how you paint? I’ve had a lot of conversations with painters about the need to find a really specific way to work with paint. With your work I almost feel like what you need is a kind of cache of several different ways to paint. And the particularity of your approach to painting has to do with a way of thinking, by moving from one type of painting to another. So was I wondering how you would describe the specificity of your approach.
John Chilver: Of the shows I’ve done this one is the most premeditated and pre-planned. Partly because of the constraints of the space. In a way the constraints helped me usher in a variety of what I’d think of as registers of painting. The basic decision of the show was that [10 panel] sequence, in that scale, which was to be framed by the balustrade on the staircase. And the balustrade and the strange ceiling were the defining constraints in the space. Once I’d worked out there was either going to be 9 or 10 in a row there, the sequence allowed me to bring in a range of paces, and kinds of resemblance, kinds of figural suggestion, in a way that I hadn’t really done before. It did me a favour in allowing me to be more relaxed about that. I suppose there’s a sort of archival aspect, that if you were a songwriter, you’ve got a whole archive of the history of song-writing at the touch of your device. And then there’s a painting version of that, you know, I would see the whole history of painting as being a set of solutions to ways of reconstructing the visual. And they are all available. I’m a kind of painting junkie and painting fan. I’m very happy to spend a morning looking at Duccio in the National Gallery, let’s say. So to me it’s all available – the idea that modernism gets rid of a whole bunch of languages of painting is obviously not something I’m invested in. So I’m interested in activating that sense that it’s all an available archive. It’s all an available set of cultural archives. Not one archive, there are many archives and all of those languages are available. But mobilising those archives is not an end in itself. You have somehow to put them to use.
Emily Rosamond: Your mention of a concept of pace I think is quite interesting. And I know you’ve thought a lot about painting as a kind of space-time proposition. And certainly, within that sequence, there is a really broad range of understandings of pace, which are then cued into the titles, in quite an interesting way, I think. There is a series of titles – and words – around the banner pieces that are very premeditated, quite propositional, “So-and-so teaching the remedial class in political economy, et et…”. But then there are the quicker paced works as well, in the series. They have something like what William James called “and-ness”. You know, we should be able to understand the conjunctive – the inflection of different conjunctive moods. We should be able to say “if-ness”, “but-ness”, “and-ness” as readily as we say “yellowness” or something like this. So there’s something about the quicker works in the sequence, for instance, that seem to have this Jamesian quality of “and-ness,” and equally the titles of these works seem to point to something quite momentary, quite fleeting – you know “Someone entered the balcony while we were talking.” There’s an interesting time structure. Mikhail Bakhtin used the term ‘chronotope’ to describe how novels deal with space-time. So, for example, let’s say Homer’s Odyssey: it will massively contract for years and years in the narrative, to just a few sentences. But then it will open up tinier moments in huge amounts of detail. And there’s an interesting chronotopic reading, I think, of the series as well.
John Chilver: Absolutely. It’s thinking about the time of making and thinking about the time of something represented within the painting. They are literally different paces. Most of the paintings start off roughly like “Someone entered the balcony while we were talking.” And then they get worked over and worked over, until they end up with figures and sometimes banners. The works like “Someone entered…” are done quite fast. I’ll do six at a time. They might take twenty minutes, they might take four hours. I don’t quite know what I’m doing, other than I’m trying to get some disparity between the surface and an illusionistic space. Occasionally I just leave them there, and there’ll be a lot of them on the wall, and things will accumulate, and as I spend time looking at them, I think, let’s just leave it. The time consideration that you’re bringing in, I’ve thought of in terms of a storyboard. You know, the moments in any film, however tedious or exciting, where the dialogue has stopped and when the characters have moved off-screen and the camera freezes on some detail of the space and somebody has made a decision as to what the edit is, how long that moment is going to be held. And those moments always interest me, that sense of the rightness of how long an edit is held, or not. So I feel it’s a bit like that.
But the work’s always – the rigour is always very partial at any point. There’s always an attempt to be rigorous that doesn’t go very far, that always falls short. So the original intention was to have all of them as figures holding banners. It immediately became apparent that that was going to be quite boring. The scale of it was going to be too repetitious. It would collapse into an illustrated narrative. So the ones that are to do with marks and colours became a way of interrupting that. In terms of space and time, they become much more frontal and depthless. They are all things that I would want to have compared with the points at which the marks become figures. So something very basic like resemblance – and I mean I know there’s all the Deleuze and Guattari war on resemblance – but I think resemblance is such a basic thing in painting, that it’s worth a great deal to me. And then there are different registers of resemblance. So, in that sequence, I hope people would notice the comparison between the paintings ‘The Appetite of the Concept’ and `Verina Gfader teaching…’. The banner [in ‘Verina Gfader teaching…’] is roughly the same light violet as the extruded paint [in ‘Appetite of the Concept’]. I would hope the viewer would notice the comparison of how the highlight works on the banner in the painting and how the highlight works on the extruded paint in real space. So you’ve got a comparison of paint in front of the picture plane and events happening behind the picture plane. Those comparisons are things that I invite viewers to attend to, and to interrupt the other things that are available.
Emily Rosamond: Absolutely. Certainly those kinds of transpositions are also very present in the work downstairs as well. It rehearses and repeats the banner-ness and plays with it and the different tautnesses of canvases and the hanging banner. Yes, quite interesting to hear you talk about a film still as a point of reference. I’m thinking about how to read stillness in these works as something like a kind of politics of posing, or a politics of gesture. And certainly, I was thinking of Agamben’s very poignant phrase in ‘Notes on Gesture’ when he says: “Even the Mona Lisa, even Las Meninas could be viewed as stills in a lost film wherein only they would regain their true meaning.” So the idea of painting as a kind of proto film still, as something that almost moves, or that suggests moves or that partakes of the fleeting in this conflicted way that the film still does. That’s really interesting to me, and particularly in the way the poses relate to the gestures of the paintings.
John Chilver: Yes sure. The relationship with photography is always hard to conceptualise. Obviously film defines our sense of the visual real. The reality-effect of the visual is defined filmically. Maybe less so photographically – or it’s hard to tell the difference between photography and film now, I suppose. But if that’s the case, then it’s a problem for painting, because what’s fundamentally wonderful about painting for me would be very obvious things that we all already know – but I’m not sure we get around to saying – which would be that it presents the visual as constructed, in a way that film doesn’t. I mean, we could argue about the nuances of that. But painting always gives you the visual as constructed and made and therefore contingent and in need of shoring up. There’s that and then there’s that whole sense of the way one goes about everyday life, and the way one sees in everyday life as being an information-gathering, information-filtering process – you know, navigating the city. And then what painting can do is give you a day off from that. It’s a holiday from that information-navigating use of the eye. And it’s a stepping back and reflecting on the visual, the pleasures of the visual, the instrumentalization of the visual. That’s an obvious assumption of modernist painting, perhaps. That’s still there and that’s always part of the point of the operation.
But to get back to what you said about time and posing: I don’t have a ready answer to this.... I had a long time of being obsessed with the quality of a mark on the surface, and the pace of that and the time of that. And using things like extrusion to do a lot of the work that a brushmark would do, but it not be a brushmark. And it’s partly like the war on cliché. But it’s also a way of taking something that’s coded through expression, and trying to escape those codes. And then to go back and place figures in these ambiguous spaces.
I do think, in terms of what you were saying about what is a pose – and again, using the history of painting as a resource – if you look at something like Piero’s Nativity, the stillness of the figures is something not available to us. It is profoundly unphotographic and has a monumental static-ness to it. So the problem in my head is partly, is the gesturing the banner, or is the gesturing the person holding the banner, or both, or neither? I’m not quite sure. And a lot of the fuel of this work had to do with inviting other people to get involved. Like Kitty and you and Tom Varley and others. A lot of the fun of that was to get it out of it being just me in the studio. I like being in the studio just making work and you can get lost in that. It’s very easy for me to fall into that modernist kind of monadic subject. You know, in the studio for fourteen hours, listening to music. So getting other people involved – you and others suggest things that I hadn’t thought of, produce movements, and forms of address and posture that I hadn’t thought of. So that’s really shifted it to being on the cusp of something more collaborative. That hasn’t gone very far. One of works downstairs, the text was written by Edgar Schmitz. So that’s also something I’m exploring, which is inviting other people to write the texts.
But there’s a whole vocabulary within the history of European painting about the gesture, in renaissance and post-renaissance painting, which maybe peaks in someone like Poussin. Every movement of the hand or arm in Poussin has a meaning – it might not be a determinate sign – but there’s an idea that it’s a sign in some dramatic encounter between the figures. As far as I understand, the paintings were made with models. Poussin would hire model-makers, make models, then he’d light them and map the paintings off them. So it’s already highly mediated. In a way, the gesture is more important than the person. So the heads in Poussin – sorry to go on about this if people are bored by Poussin, but it has come to matter to me, partly through the T J Clarke book on Poussin – the heads are always a bit vacuous and formulaic. There’s a sense that the heads aren’t really characters, which annoys me. But the orchestration of the bodies as semiotic, choreographed machines and then the spacings of the bodies, I think, are endlessly fascinating. But there’s that Baudrillard idea that as soon as you can press buttons then the meaning of gestures has ended. Because the ultimate gesture is just pressing a button on a keyboard. Yes, I’m skirting around your question.
Question from audience: Can you talk about text in relation to the image? How you chose the text, why you decided to use the type of text.
John Chilver: For a long time I wanted to put text in paintings, but I didn’t want it to be like a Richard Prince joke painting. I didn’t want it to be like the canvas ends up as a page or a noticeboard. I wanted it to be somehow within picture space. So there were attempts to do that by doing paintings of billboards seen obliquely, receding into picture space. Which were not particularly… So the first thing was to pictorially mediate text. It’s a picture. A painting is never just, never like you printing out a document on your printer – it’s not that. It’s a mediation. It was important to play with partial legibility.
In terms of the content of the text, I wanted something that stated certain obvious ambiguities about painting and maybe where we are. So, if you know your Marxian economics, then the main statement in that sequence is the bleeding obvious. OK so, “Use value does not equal exchange value” is lesson 101. So it’s not news to somebody who knows that. It’s not news to anybody. It’s almost like redundant language. But I hope it’s evident that it raises the obvious question about the status of the painting as a commodity. And all of the work came out of thinking about space in London. Painting as a spatial production and the increasing impossibility of spatial production in this area.
Question from audience: Space as in the built environment?
John Chilver: Yes – and the lived environment. And just in this area, actually in the time since we first started talking about this show, there’ve been several demolitions in this street, one of which used to be ACAVA studios, which is about to become expensive apartments. And then Mecca Bingo. So it’s also about that. Again, it’s the very obvious. The retailing of housing space for investment is an exchange value, it’s not a use value. You can park your capital in the sky over Deptford, but nobody is necessarily living in it, so it’s not a use value. Again, these are completely obvious. But I wanted the painting to set up something didactic which is ambiguous as to whether it’s me voicing that didacticism, or the characters in the paintings, like Emily, voicing that didacticism. And by the titles, to make it explicitly didactic in the sense of literal pedagogy, so they are kind of conceived as lessons, the painting is a lesson being taught.
Emily Rosamond: There is a quite partial and, in a way, inadequate reading of this show as a kind of complicated resistance to the financialized conditions of painting. In other words, getting priced out of studio spaces, being subject to regimes of gentrification in the city, having to think about how the space-time of one’s painting practice meets with or is in lockstep to the rentier, who’s kicking all of us out of studios, and things like that. Certainly the letter from NatWest is also quite an interesting curveball. I think your work is always about setting up some premise, sticking to it enough so that it accumulates some gravity as a premise, and then throwing in a curveball. So the NatWest curveball, it has to do with mining the opinions for value. Companies that are contacting you personally to say your opinions are valuable, and you could go on a cruise, and we have the best customer service,
So there’s a financialising even of opinion. I feel like there’s a scrambling of codes between pedagogy and protest that’s part of how that is staged. But it’s also not all there is to the work. And this is where, for me anyway, a reading of affect really comes in, as something that complicates that quick read, the attempt to leave the exhibition at that level of a kind of hermeneutic reading of what its critique is. Which has to do with a really complicated way of positioning the many personas in this work with respect to what is being resisted, what is being protested. So on that note, I wanted to come back to the press release, which, as far as I know, I don’t know of another press release like this, right? - that you’ve worked on in proximity with the painting in this way. It certainly doesn’t explain the paintings, but it sits alongside them in a really interesting way.
It looks at the different ways in which words and painted images can forge a relationship to content. So basically, I would describe this press release as something that deals with the edges of painting practices in many different ways. So, it mentions brushes, cleaning brushes with soap and water, studio spaces and rising studio prices in many areas of the city. And there’s a lot of what I would call affective imperative statements. Many of these phrases of the press release navigate inflections of the imperative mood: so commands or instructions, pieces of friendly advice, prohibitions. Because of that, they also navigate different possible implied scenarios, without ever settling into any one of those. So there’s a suggestion of a pedagogic scenario; or a rental scenario; or a kind of friendly advice scenario. All these scenarios that get conjured in this press release, but without ever being fully landed on. And there are also a lot of permanent statements in the text that really name feeling and affect. As you put it, you say “Try lots of things to leverage how you feel.” So you have this translation of the language of leveraging, this like financial language of leveraging, into the realm of feeling, into the realm of thinking about everyday affective practice. And there are all kinds of statements like this that have to do with “behaviour in the vicinity of affection.” “Experimenting with affectful edges.” So there are certain things that can be named quite easily in text – at affectful edges – that can only be performed in painting.
So I was wondering whether there’s an interesting enactment that has to do with the network condition of painting. And so, you’ve written a lot about how, in this moment, for many, many reasons, to do with the algorithmic condition and many other things, it’s kind of pointless to try to pretend or imply that paintings can be resolved within themselves. Resolution cannot happen only within the picture frame. Of course, this was something that was very famously argued in 2009 by David Joselit. I’m sure many of you might know the essay ‘Painting Beside Itself’, where Joselit describes the contemporary condition of painting as one in which the question ‘How does painting belong to a network?’ becomes most important. How does it point outside its edges as well as navigate complexities within them? And I think you’ve pointed out in a quite interesting way – you’ve written a really good critique of his essay – how facile that way of thinking can be. Because, clearly, throwing in a networked element to an exhibition won’t necessarily do anything, right? There are all kinds of really failed ways for painting to try to be quote-unquote “networked.” It doesn’t always work. To really think about those requires much more careful ways of unpacking the subtleties of disagreement between what’s happening within painting and what’s happening outside it. And so, for me, when I was reading the text, it became if anything, too prominent in the way that I was reading the show. But I thought, is that your way of networking painting?
John Chilver: There’s always that thing, you write something, or you publish something, so on some level you’re going to be held by that measure. So yes, that text you’re referring to from about eighteen months ago was done, and then I was preparing this. So in some way it has to sit adequately in relation to that. I don’t have a straightforward answer to it, but the things that Joselit says – the crude version would be: it’s easy to network something and evacuate it, and then the interiority of it – if you can still hold onto that notion that there is an interior – it’s either irrelevant or vacuous or somehow collapsed. So that would seem to be Jutta Koether, Merlin Carpenter – take your pick. There’s a kind of abandonment of any interiority. And it seems to me it’s too easy. There’s no attempt to put any pressure on the residual interiority that has some kind of complex relation to an exterior. So, there’s something in the back of my head to develop this... I suppose what needs to be arrived at is something where, genuinely, you can’t say what’s interior and what’s exterior. And maybe it’s too easy, with those artists, to say, well, it’s all exteriorized. And one thing, say in Merlin’s work – you know, he’s an interesting person – what I developed when I was writing that text is that the weird thing with ‘The Opening’ series by Merlin is that the image becomes the photo of him doing them. That becomes the image. The paintings – they are collapsed traces of an event. But the photograph of him in a Mercedes doing the painting out the window becomes the strong image. So it kind of hands things over to photography again, or film. Which is valid, of course. But it’s not really leveraging, it’s not really trying to work out any feedback between interior and exterior. That would be my take on it. And I think the same with Jutta Koether and the kinds of things that Joselit writes about.
I was also thinking that there is something around responding to Art & Language. That Art & Language is another attempt to other painting and hold off a load of romantic and affective histories of painting. And after a while, I can see it generationally, and for that generation that was a valid set of struggles. But now, I don’t know what the point of, I don’t see any critical force in doing pictorially meagre painting. Because for them, it would be like if you spend time, you know, thinking about the colour of a tree, then you’re bourgeois and you’re locked into a romantic subject-position… and la da da – you know the critique. OK, but people who perform that critique are kind of bourgeois graduates of good art schools and it stops having a purchase after a while. It just becomes a reproduction of a doctrine. And so in way, that work would also be a kind of networking. But what would Art & Language’s work do if they cared about pictures?
Question from audience: I was thinking about this idea of the aesthetic – that a painting could be something pleasing. That it can just be pleasing within a traditional sense of the aesthetic. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with form. And it doesn’t necessarily have to have another function. I wonder whether that idea annoys you or whether it’s part of your conversation.
John Chilver: No it doesn’t annoy me. I just saw Katharina Grosse’s show and parts of it I found quite beautiful, but I don’t really know where to go with that. It’s not necessarily easy to make beautiful things, or beautiful things that are beautiful when you come back to them time and time again. But equally, ugly things are interesting. There’s lots of colour painting that I really enjoy. But with painting like Katharina Grosse, I enjoy it, but I want something else. I think the Art & Language dilemma comes into play. There’s a historical moment when there’s a good reason for making puritanical work and just text and it’s radically de-aestheticized. And then that’s past. So why not put that within an aesthetic game or a game of sense. Colour is very fundamental to me and I spend a lot of time thinking about colour. I spent years doing Ad Reinhardt pastiches. Colour’s really, really important. And it solves lots of problems when I get stuck. Colour is ontologically complex. It’s a fundamentally interactive relationship. It’s produced in the mind but it’s also out there in the world. So it’s inherently relational and unstable. I suppose if we push on the term beauty…. a lot has to do with spending a good deal of the last fifteen years teaching. You do that thing where you’ve gone through a set of conversations in teaching, and you become a hypocrite because you’re not applying your own rules of thumb. I have had quite a lot of conversations with students over the last two years where I say to a student, oh what you’re doing is that you’ve got these negative terms and you’re using them as barriers – whatever they might be. So, for my generation, ‘illustration’ is a negative term. If I’m doing a horse and I think, oh shit it’s an illustration, I can’t do that. And then I realise that it’s worth calling your own bluff, and going, OK it’s an illustration, so be it! Then colour’s the same thing. Sometimes there’s something happening in a painting and it’s kind of Monet. And I’m really embarrassed. I think, I want to be a rigorous, contemporary artist and something in the painting makes me think of Monet. And I feel really embarrassed. But well, OK, just live with it. It’s like the generational Art & Language scenario. That’s not available to them. But things have changed.
Galia Kollectiv: Can I ask you about that in relation to temporality? This question of why not do certain things that were proscribed at certain points, I kind of agree with in a sense. But at the same time, it’s not a question of why, I think it’s a question of how – could we possibly go back? It’s not just a question of whether we want to go back, because once you go back to certain ideas of beauty and aesthetics and all that, you can’t escape the connotations, the knowledge that you have about, you know, for whom something is beautiful – how that has come to be, and the historicizations and the conventions. So I was wondering whether what you were seeking wasn’t a kind of naïve return – which I don’t think this is – but is there a sense of suspension? And I was thinking about that in relation to what you were saying before, about the temporality of looking at a painting as a kind of temporary suspension of a certain relationship to information. But a lot of this painting, I gather, starts out as photography and I think its destination is also photography, in the sense that more people will see the jpegs than will ever see this. Which I’m actually really pleased about because I know that this is a small gallery and my ambition for it is that people will engage with it as an archive much more so than a space. But also does that relate to the question of use and value and exchange value? Is the painting’s use value a sort of temporary suspension of its inevitable subsumption into exchange value? So are all those things somehow connected to a kind of sense of suspension?
John Chilver: Yes they are. Of course you’re right about the photographic archive being all of everything. And yes of course, that’s the destination. But that’s not something I’ve built into the work as a set of debates or problematics, because I just take a very reductively normative view, which is that you’ve got to see the show, you can’t look at the jpegs. And I know that’s kind of stupid and that’s not how we live, but nonetheless it is how I live. If I see the jpegs of your show in Belfast, I don’t think I’ve seen it. And also just this space… that painting [Oak and Air] has been a great problem and it has taken me a very long time to resolve it. And then when it in came in here it was a completely different light, because you’ve got, you know, early afternoon, you get a lot of light in here at this time of year. And I’ve never seen it in those light conditions in the studio and it was like a different painting. So there’s all that, and it’s a primary thing. And then we had the photographer in this morning and then he’s holding up all these colour charts. So the photography itself is also normative as to what does the camera see, what is the right colour. At that point Monet meets the digital archive.
Galia Kollectiv: Doesn’t that really privilege the person who happens to be able to afford to live in London, for example, to have more access?
John Chilver: Yes I suppose it does. To state the bleeding obvious, which you know better than me, that every demand for cultural attention is financialized. There’s a politics of space, there’s a politics of time and attention. And the closer you are to certain locations, certain access to privileged mediation, that also is always a power production. So it’s a very inadequate answer. Yes it’s flawed and yes it’s replete with injustices. But it seems to me there’s also a thing around a temporality of the present. Some sort of – and I don’t know how to voice it without sounding dreadfully romantic – there’s some sort of need to affirm the here-and-now. That’s also the here-and-now of making it and the here-and-now of seeing it. In the press release text, I started off with something around a deferral of affect. It’s partly a parenting thing, where you go, look, I’m really bored of this cartoon, but you’re happy mate, so I’m happy. But it’s also that a lot of painting operations are really boring but I think, the audience is going to like it. I’m really bored doing this leaf on a tree, but you guys are going love it. So it’s a bit like you practising your music. There’s all that deferral. And then I can’t tell the difference. I’m enjoying the fact that I think the audience are going to enjoy that. But I’m not really enjoying having to mix this precise colour up and getting it wrong twenty times.
Question from audience: I have almost a technical question about the paintings. I’m really interested in the way that there are different regimes of figuration in these. There are three or four, maybe five different types of figure, and each one has their own gesture attached to them. And I wondered whether this a fixed series of figurations that you use or whether you invent them as you need them?
John Chilver: The second one. It would be nice if it was the first one. I’m always jealous of certain kinds of skill or virtuosity. There’s also a whole thing around teaching myself to get around certain painting problems, you know, just how do you make a bunch of oil paint look like a tree or something. And not really knowing how to do it and trying it. I’ve come to the conclusion that you can do anything if you’re prepared to fail often enough. But if you’re happy to do two years of rubbish paintings, eventually you’ll work it out. And if you have to throw all the bad ones away… It’s got to the stage where I could probably represent anything that’s visible. But it might be very crude. And I try to always have something in the work that is at the limits of my competence. I’m interested in terms like ‘competence’, which is also an Art & Language term. So it’s like me training myself. To work out how to do the banners took me a very long time. Also very basic things, like which chemicals in the oil paints allow you to stretch them. You know, oil paints are all chemically different, and learning which ones will mix with whites, you know, all of that nonsense.
Question from audience: The fact that there’s a set regime of figuration or there are set levels of figuration – is that where the textuality in the show operates? In-between those figurations?
John Chilver: There’s a possible painting that puts all of the elements in one field. Which is maybe the next one to do. Things are a bit separated out in these. I don’t really have one that has figures and animals and extrusions all in the same field. So that might be somewhere to go to. It’s a very discontinuous set of painting processes that I’ve acquired over the years. So the extrusion thing was, in a way, a different conversation. But it’s still lingering around there somewhere.
Question from audience: What do you mean by extrusion?
John Chilver: That panel [‘Appetite of the Concept’] is extruded paint. That band of light violent is extruded from a bag of paint put through a nozzle. So there’s no brush. Does that answer your question?
Question from audience: Yes.
Emily Rosamond: A complicated play on indexicality that resonates with Isabelle Graw’s writings on indexicality in painting and trying to understand that as a relationship to semio-capitalism.
John Chilver: We could have a conversation about Isabelle Graw. Does anyone else want to weigh in? Had enough?
Question from audience: Do you feel that the show is a bit like you looking back on, reflecting on what you’ve done, your life, and on your personal painting history?
John Chilver: Yes all of the above. I mean with the NatWest letter, that was partly a way of performing the kind of text-image relationship that I didn’t want to have in the paintings. So it’s othering that. But it’s also an image of the twin towers. It’s a historical image. It’s an actual letter from my bank from exactly a year before the twin towers. Which I was at.
Question from audience: That was going to be my first question. I do know that was a pivotal moment because you were having a show in New York at the time, and you were present when it happened.
John Chilver: Yes it was a trauma.
Question from audience: So that was a pivotal moment in the work and in what it means to make work.
John Chilver: It historicized everything in a very literal way. It’s like a time stamp. That was at the end of the show. I wanted something that wasn’t a painting. It took me a while to work out how to bring that in.
Emily Rosamond: Any other questions?
John Chilver: Are we all melting too much in the heat? And need a drink? Any more? Well, thanks for coming.
Galia Kollectiv: Thank you very much.
© Copyright 2021