Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Writing about talking about art


How come newspapers think that interviewing folk who don't have anything to say is newsworthy? Or why is it that reporters covering a baseball game will ask the same inane questions time and time again?

I dunno? But dontcha think that maybe if the quality of questions asked of baseball players was slightly higher, then the responses would be better? Instead of "Coach, rotten luck tonight, eh?" which will get your standard issue response of: "Our boys played hard, but sometimes you don't get all the breaks." They might try something along the lines of "What are you reading?" which at least one time got a response of this: "I just finished the Da Vinci Code, which I thought was great. It was a good quick read and a lot of fun. Oh, and I'm almost done with the Koufax biography, which I highly recommend. Terrific, by Jane Leavy." Imagine if you will the rest of those two conversations (one imaginary, but published everyday in most North American newspapers, and one real, available on the internet, here) which one do you think is going be more interesting?

That all being said, because I just got done interviewing Bill Burns for Motel Magazine. And while I was at the Saidye I was talking with Michael Merrill and Philip Kitt (two other kick-ass artists) about the interviews I do with artists who have exhibitions here, and then on the trip back it occurred to me, in a flash! Andy Warhol! Interview magazine! Hot diggity dog!

No, I'm not going to be publishing a magazine anytime in the near future, but I'd be lying to you if I said the thought had not occurred to me. But more to the point was that I realized that archiving recorded interviews with artists is without a doubt a good thing. There are going to be PhD students, not yet born, who are going to need material for their theses in the future. So, I got another mission. Fortunately, this one was not from god. Talk to as many artists as possible.

But then there is always the fear inducing thought, sorta like when your mom caught you under the covers with the porno mag or the comic book depending on which way you swang when you were 12 years old, of what the heck am I gonna ask? What happens if they don't wanna talk? Omigod! My mouth is getting dry just thinking about it. Uh-Oh! Well (he says while swaggering just a tad) when I was 12 I didn't read porno mags OR comic books, so that thought never came into my head.

But back to the initial thought, or at least a variation on it. Why don't newspapers, and other media outlets that cater to the lowest common denominator, in chase of the almighty dollar, start to reach up a little bit? Now, I'm certain that Francoise Sullivan gives a better interview than George Canyon, and while Bill Burns was sometime difficult to understand due to his tongue being firmly planted in his cheek, my conversation with him was thoroughly enjoyable.

I can think of at least another gazillion artists who I would love to talk to. Heck! Why are you reading this blog? (Apologies for the self-referencing) it sure as shooting isn't because you want to read about Wilfred and Marie-Helene. And then after I'm done talking to the artists, I can start with the poets, then maybe we get a short list of dancers (hmmm, on second thought kill that thought, last I heard dancers don't talk much, although they do smile an awful lot in the morning) then I could ... you get the idea.

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