Monday, February 07, 2005

Getting things right in interviews (or thanks Kevin Temple!)


There's an interesting comment in my most recent post about the proposed changes to the way the Canada Council funds visual artists. Basically the thing that caught my eye was the "Your normative claim that artists who don't receive grant money under the current program are all for the proposed changes is bullshit."

Now I'm all for differences of opinion, and free-speech and all that, but I found it very strange, as I clearly stated that the "the absolute bestest one was from Moncton." I was referring to the report from Moncton, and pulled out a paragraph from that report that I liked to illustrate why I liked it. How Kevin Temple, who seems to write reviews for Now magazine, decided what I wrote was a "normative claim," I have no idea. Nor do I understand why he would even use such a term here. Sorta like railing against the movie called Boogeyman, because the depth of emotion as portrayed by the actors is not sufficient realistic.

The reason I bring this up, is because I was talking with a friend over the weekend about being quoted, and as I've been doing scads of interviews recently, I'm interested in getting them right. In a recent issue of the McGill Daily, there was an article about l'Affaire Roadsworth, and I was quoted like this:
Hand vehemently disagrees with the claim that Gibson’s work is unsafe, pointing to London as an example of an equally safe city for drivers, with heavily graffitied streets.
Unfortunately, the streets of London are not heavily graffitied. The British, however use road markings that look an awful lot like some of Roadsworth's work. So I end up looking like I don't know what I'm talking about to the readers of the article. Do I worry, no. I figure that if anybody takes offense at what I said they can talk to me directly, I'm not hard to find. But the author's perception of what I said is what she wrote, is not close to what I actually said.

Mr. Temple similarly takes his perception of what I wrote and then comments on that. Which is a darn shame, because as the Canada Council showed there are some mighty fine discussions that can be had about how to make what they do better. It's just a pity that more artists across the country didn't turn out for the discussions.

All of this is actually a long-winded way for me to state how I handle the interviews that I've done. For anybody that has missed 'em, I'm quite pleased with them. Initially I started out interviewing the artists who exhibited here.
My interview with Toly Kouroumalis from August 16, 2004.
My interview with Chris Dyer from September 23, 2004.

But then I realized I did not need to limit myself to just the artists here. So I started branching out.
My interview with Dominique Blain, from December 6, 2004.
My interview with Marc Mayer, from December 20, 2004.
My interview with Michel Hellman, from August 6, 2004.
My interview with Eduardo Kac, from October 26, 2004.

And I still have Philip Bottenberg, Karen Trask, Chris Lloyd, and Roadsworth in the can waiting to be transcribed, along with a couple more scheduled to happen.

I do 'em in order to make more people aware of the staggering amount of art that is coming from Montreal. Spin magazine and the New York Times might think that Montreal is the "next big thing" in pop music, but Montreal is in fact the new black in the art world.

In each and every one, I record the entire conversation, get it transcribed, then email the interviewee asking them if everything is good - or in other words do they still agree with everything that they previously said, and only then do I post an interview. Just to avoid these disputes between perception and what was actually said. Now that I got that off my chest I feel much better. Thanks Kevin Temple.

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