Jul 27, 2012

Q+A with Artist Fiona Connor

Artist Fiona Connor at the photocopier in the Hammer Museum Lobby. Photo by Marianne Williams.

The following is an interview conducted by the Hammer Museum’s new media associate Amanda Law with Made in L.A. artist Fiona Connor regarding her project Lobbies on Wilshire Publishing House. From June 28 – July 12 Connor worked with a host of collaborators to activate her installation by organizing a workshop and publishing house to create an alternate catalogue for Made in L.A. 2012. During this time Connor generated content by collecting documentation and reaction to the exhibition and events from invited guests and museum visitors. Articles were printed using a photocopying machine installed in the lobby and distributed daily.

Amanda: How long have you been working in the lobby now?

Fiona: I’ve been here for two weeks.

Photo by Salonee Bhaman.

A: What were you responding to in terms of creating this publication?

F: Um. That’s a good question. I think it came—That’s a really good question.

A: Was it a long journey to this point?

F: Yeah, such a long journey.

A: Did it start with the stairs, or…

F: No, it started with coming into—being invited to respond to a lobby, and the idea of making the lobby more lobby than it already was. And through this clogging, all that multiplicity, how would it change the way we acted within it? Part of that proposal was to take all the printers from the whole building and relocate then in the lobby. I’m interested in how upstairs, in the admin offices, there’s all this printing and production that goes on, but there’s no visibility, so taking that site of production and transferring it to the lobby—so that every time somebody prints something from admin, they would come downstairs and gather their printing.

Photo by Marianne Williams.

A: So people are actually doing that?

F: No, that got kaboshed. So at the same time that I was developing that proposal, we were developing these shows where I was trying to collapse the documentation of a site specific installation with the installation itself, because it’s like a problem of doing installation – can these works travel? Like they can’t transcend time and space. Which is a really important value, or something that people ask of art to do. So, I thought if the publication gets generated and produced in the space, it’ll be more close than doing this more conservative documentation that doesn’t question how work is documented. So saying a catalogue is another type of architecture of an exhibition, but then that architecture moves past the parameters of the show. What if you put as much rigor and thought into the documentation as the work itself – so acknowledging it as a new site.

A: So say I’m a visitor to the museum, and I walk up to your setup–would you interact with me?

F: Definitely.

A: What would you say to me?

F: The most important part of the work is that it gives a platform for visitors to – for their voice to be inserted, historicized, cataloged. I’ll basically tell you it’s an alternative catalog, and you can take as many as you want, and it would be great to get a response. And that conversation can go as far as you want, to the point of like, someone who comes and stays the whole day with us. It’s a very messy open project and I think the only rule is that all of the content is generated within close proximity to the exhibition, which is the point of departure from a lot of catalogs, which are produced before the exhibition. So there are the opinions of Jarl Mohn, and then there’s the voice of the artists, voice of the visitors, and voices of the curators. They’re all collapsed together in this one document.

Photo by Marianne Williams.

A: When can we pick up a catalog?

F: They are going to be placed in libraries in LA. And also it’s going to be scanned into a giant PDF. I’m not sure where that will be available yet, but maybe it’ll be a website where it’ll just be a click to download it.

A: What have you noticed by being in the lobby every day?

F: It’s actually amazing how productive it’s been. If you have a table and a computer and a power plug, you can just really settle. We’ve been really focused.

A: How has the technology worked for you? Have there been any crashes?

F: No, we’ve been good. Just the usual jams.

Photo by Marianne Williams.

A: Working at the museum, I love coming through this space now. I’m not a huge fan of this lobby space, but having somebody inhabit the space that’s not normally inhabited makes it much more human.

F: Hopefully! These guys have been working so hard.

A: It looks like it. You want to give an oral shout out to…

F: Yeah, definitely! Emi, and Salonee, and Ana, and Alex, and Elizabeth Cline’s been…it’s been a really intense conversation, because we’ve both been pushing our boundaries heaps, there’s been a lot experimentation for both of us. You know? I reckon like, I got a feeling that it was a leap of faith.

A: That’s cool.

F: Yeah, it is cool.

July 13, 2012
Hammer Museum

Filed under: Behind the Scenes, Made in L.A. Artists