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Issue No. 18 - Humanity

Current Feature: Thomas Hirschhorn

Current Feature: Thomas Hirschhorn

Thomas Hirschhorn, Pixel-Collage n°106, Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York. All artwork photographed by Romain Lopez.

Thomas Hirschhorn, Pixel-Collage n°106, Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York. All artwork photographed by Romain Lopez.

Q: Can you tell us about your process in creating these collages? The protective plastic covering of each piece is striking. Is this a statement about the futility of “protection”— be it of art, the self, or our eyes?

 

Pixel-Collage is a series of collages. A collage means pasting together at least two existing elements to create something new, a new world, a new image, a new light. Doing this means giving a response through Form: Form is not just an idea, Form is the core. I want to give Form, because giving Form is the most important thing. The plastic covering is part of this form. The plastic is not a protection but the will to frame my work myself - I do not want someone else to frame my work, I want to keep it thin, fragile, two-dimensional. This is a decision and an affirmation. The plastic sheets I use are the same as those that florists use to wrap flower bouquets. To me, this material seems appropriate in the context of collages made with photocopies and transparent tape, enlarged from magazines and standard-sized paper. The plastic, as well, is the form I have found that enables me to include the empty spaces that appear as part of a real collage work in any collage.

Thomas Hirschhorn, Installation Image from Picture Industry, June 24 - December 15, 2017. Hessel Museum of Art, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Photo: Chris Kendall

Thomas Hirschhorn, Installation Image from Picture Industry, June 24 - December 15, 2017. Hessel Museum of Art, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. Photo: Chris Kendall

Q: In a recent interview you mentioned the “stupidity, the easiness, the velocity” of doing collages. Your choice of words intrigues me, especially the word “stupid”— what do you mean by this? And what are some of the materials you like to work with, other than images and pixels?

 

“Stupidity” is - to me - an absolutely positive term. It’s not antagonistic with intelligence, sensitivity, or being awake. I am for stupidity, for energy, for non-economization, for generosity, for expenditure, for exaggeration, for blindness, for restlessness, for acceleration, for precipitation, for excess, for self-transgression, for heedlessness. Therefore “stupidity” is a form against security, quietism, economization, good quality, capitalization, harmony, consumption, obedience, correctness, anxiety, naiveté.

Thomas Hirschhorn, Pixel-Collage n°108, Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York. All artwork photgraphed by Romain Lopez.

Thomas Hirschhorn, Pixel-Collage n°108, Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York. All artwork photgraphed by Romain Lopez.

Q: In your press release for Pixel-Collage you state that, “Pixelating a part of a picture might imply and indicate that there is worse, much worse, and that there is something incommensurable that is concealed.” Would you say that by placing pixelated fashion images next to images of death, you’re not only making a statement about the reality of war, violence, and censorship but also of advertising? Or are you drawing connections between distinct and disparate realities?

 

Pixels stand for different meanings. I identified nine meanings and “the worse is concealed” is one of them. It means that by pixelating a picture or a part of a picture there are commensurable and incommensurable parts of the picture pointed out. But to me, nothing is commensurable or non-commensurable; everything is important, everything can have its importance, nothing is unimportant. To pixelate is always an authoritarian act. What interests me is that pixelating - as an aesthetic - meets the demand for authority, for protection, for the loss of responsibility and for de-emancipation. What interests me about this aesthetic is that, through pixels, abstraction can engage me in today’s world, time and reality. How can I redefine my idea of abstraction today? What interests me is that I can understand abstraction as thinking, as political thinking. What interests me is that pixels build up a new form opening towards a dynamic and a desire for truth, truth as such, truth as something reaching beyond information, non-information or counter-information. Paradoxically, the authoritarian will to use pixilation in order to hide, “protect,” not show, or make something not visible, has become an invitation to touch truth

 

Thomas Hirschhorn, Pixel-Collage n°105.

Thomas Hirschhorn, Pixel-Collage n°105.

Q: In an interview with The Louisiana Channel you said that we are living in a time of “facelessness.” This is a fascinating topic— could you expand on what this concept means to you and your work?

  

Living in the time of facelessness means to be busy with hiding the face, my face - completely occupied with myself and entirely narcissistic - instead of being occupied by how to get in touch with the world. I want to get in touch with the world, in conflict or in agreement, but in touch nevertheless. I must show what I see, what I understand, what comes from myself without explanation or argumentation. It is necessary to distinguish “sensitivity,” which to me means being awake and attentive, from “hypersensitivity,” which means self-enclosure and exclusion. 

 

Q: “Facelessness” is a complex issue and it calls into question an age-old dilemma within photography: do you think individuals own the rights to their image?

 

Before I want to discuss the right of the face, of the image of my face, I want to understand the face, my face - as the first and the direct contact with the other, with the world. If I do not offer my face - what else will establish the contact with the other? With the world? The question of the right of my image is hysterical. What matters and is essential is the question of how to be in contact with the world.

To read the full article from our Issue Humanity, visit here

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