Interview for Livraison – Private issue – No 1 - Spring / Summer 2005
Fluxus Heidelberg – Litsa Spathi & Ruud Janssen
This interview is published in the first issue of the Swedish magazine Livraison. More details and ordering info for this magazine you can find on: www.livraison.se
The questions & answers:
01 The other day I told some people at my work how happy I was, that I actually was about to interview Fluxus-people. They didn’t know what Fluxus was! Why?
Ruud Janssen: In art-circles Fluxus is something which is quite well known. Modern schoolbooks on art-history even include a part on the subject Fluxus and what it has started. Yet, some people never learned art-history at school. Maybe followed the wrong schools, wrong subjects. They just as well might have forgotten it.
Litsa Spathi: That isn’t a nice answer for a first question Ruud. Now you are embarrassing and offending the colleagues of Marie Birde!
Ruud: Yes maybe, but if her colleagues don’t know what Fluxus is, it tells more about her colleagues than about what Fluxus is.
Litsa: Still, that isn’t a nice answer!
Ruud: Should I delete it then?
Litsa: yes, you should.
Ruud: O.K. I’ll delete it and we’ll let Marie ask her the next question.
Litsa: But we still haven’t got an answer then.
Ruud: She only asks “why”!
02 Why is it important to put yourself in a bigger context?
Litsa: How did she know we put ourselves in a bigger context? Did you e-mail her that in advance Ruud?
Ruud: No, not really. Maybe she has got it from our site www.fluxusheidelberg.org . Anybody can access that! If she went through it she could know that we work that way.
Litsa: Shouldn’t we just answer those questions rather than discussing them?
Ruud: You are so right. Can you start?
Litsa: Ok, I will.
Ruud: Just a second. I will type down your name and will type down your exact words.
Litsa: Let me give an example. When I was asked to do a Fluxus-performance at the VHS (a center for adult education) in Heidelberg, in honor of their 50th anniversary, I choose for the subject “Without borders” (in German: “Grenzenlos”). In a briefcase I collected self-made objects and object-books that were connected to the most important issues that one encounters in life. Themes like pain, wine, bread, joy, life an death. A sample is the object-book “Love poems in test tubes”. As part of the performance I presented all the objects and object-books, and for this one I took out each individual test tube. With each tube I explained the content and the connections to the total. Through this everybody should find and create the poem inside his head. The goal was to connect the voidness with the meaning of life. The impossible is then a possibility. The Public was enthusiast
03 What is your definition of art?
Ruud: I’ll look it up in a dictionary. The definition of art is easy to find there. A is the first letter in the Alphabet.
Litsa: Yes, but is that OUR definition of art?
Litsa: This is something I have told already in many interviews. My art is a part of my life and my life is a part of my art. All what I do is a result of what I experience and what come on my way. If it is called art, so be it.
Ruud: Well, I think art is the combination of life and the possibility to project the visions with certain techniques onto certain media.
04 What’s more important in your work – the process or the result? Explain.
Litsa: The process of course. That is obvious.
Ruud: Yes, I completely agree!
Litsa: Shouldn’t we explain why?
Ruud: I don’t think so. This interview is also a process, but the readers will only read the result. So the process of the interview is more important than the result. But the results is all the readers will get. If we explain the process it only turns into more result. So nobody learns from that.
Litsa: But by not just giving one answer to each question, and rather discussing the questions aren’t we documenting the process only?
Ruud: Yes, that is the result!
05 Where and when do you find the right feeling?
Ruud: Right now feels good. Isn’t that the answer?
Litsa: Only now? For me there is not really a good or a bad moment. I always am able to produce art, it is a basic need for me. Give me the a chance and I start to create.
06 When is real life a piece of art? Are some things in life more art than others?
Ruud: A typical Duchamp-question. Anything is art. But is something more art that art?
Litsa: Art is always a transformation of life-experiences. Truth with future visions. Things that are there will always be transferred into art. The question is only: “how is this done?”
Ruud: Sometimes a painting can be the result, but some events just call for a performance.
Litsa: The cutting of the red Cabbage, that performance is a nice example.
07 The art-scene is often considered to be very intellectual. Why is that and exactly how intellectual is it (in your opinion)?
Litsa: The art of today takes refuge in the ivory towers and cloud-cuckoo lands of aesthetics. The themes in today’s art-scene are sometimes so abstract, artificial, and far away from life. People have problems in understanding what it means.
08 Is art that is put in museums better art? Why? Why not? Do you think the museums are doing a good job?
Ruud: Certainly they are doing something right. If there weren’t museums, a lot of art wouldn’t have survived the last centuries. Whether the art in museums is the better art or not is another thing. Museums buy artworks through their connections. Only when an artists is part of such a connection there is a possibility to get ones art into a museum.
Litsa: Better art? I don’t think so. Often we walk through museums looking at the paintings and think: “boring, boring, boring….. Why do they hang here?”
Ruud: Or do you remember we were in that museum of modern art where we saw this small drawing of Picasso. I believe he himself would have thrown it away. But probably somebody found it, and because it IS a Picasso drawing it is exhibited. Not because it is a good piece of art. This pencil drawing was put in a golden frame. Yes, the frame was quite well done.
09 What’s more important; to challenge yourself or your audience? Why?
Litsa: Both are important. For my performances, my drawings and paintings. In the press my work is sometimes called provocative. Sometimes also the audience tells this after an exhibition or a performance. But are they?
Ruud: Yes, sometimes your work is provocative, but people can only be provoked when they don’t understand which part of life your work deals with. Life itself is always challenging.
Litsa: What is expected of art is that the transformation is suitable for the public/audience. When one shows a feeling which is too painful, to heavy, not acceptable for the general public, then it just is experienced as provocative because the audience/public can’t deal with it. Still my art has as goal to provoke, so yes, challenge the audience. A nice example is my latest exhibition “Metamorphosen” here in Palais Hirsch, Schwetzingen. It sure was provoking the public, but here it was also a challenge for me to express thoughts and emotions which are forced upon me from the past and my present. Also future visions, fear and pain are shown. Pain is not a pleasant theme for the audience, I know. They don’t enjoy seeing that. Still I show it. It provokes, and that is maybe a bigger challenge.
10 What do you do/say to motivate others to be part of your projects?
Litsa: There are two categories of people. The once that are willing to take part, and those who don’t want to be involved. Trying to motivate isn’t an option. Either people do take part in projects because they are open and curious. Or people are rejecting.
Ruud: Some projects don’t involve others. But if there are others one want to let take part, a simple invitation is mostly enough. Just explain in a correct way what is the goal and what is expected. It is a simple as you doing this interview.
11 In what way can you and the Fluxus-movement make the world to a better place?
Litsa: Oh my God, a better place? I am not a “Miss World”. These girls mostly say these kind of sentences. Fluxus is a anti-movement, but making the world better isn’t its goal. Fluxus- and conceptual artist see art as a natural process. The realization comes second to the impulse.
Ruud: Showing in what kind of world the people live in is more of a goal. So confronting them with how we see the world is more how you could call it. If people realize this, it is up to them if it changes something for them. For better or worse.
12 Artist Jenny Holzer says: “Protect me from what I want”. What do you think I should protect myself from?
Litsa: It would be interesting to know in which context she said this sentence. When one realizes all ones dreams and visions it could even mean the end of mankind. Nuclear bombs, Chemical weapons, etc. This sentence “Protect me from what I want” also could be a kind of prison. I am not allowed to make mistakes, to act as a free person. As a free person I should do the things I want. Including the chance to make mistakes. You should find out yourself if you need to be protected from. Maybe from my views?
13 Sometimes my friends trick me and tell me they are somebody else. What is the best way to know you are you?
Litsa: I don’t think your friends are playing trick with you. More likely they are playing tricks with themselves. They pretend to be someone else. So they take temporarily the identity of someone else. They use another name, feel like being in another body, so they can actually be someone else. Their known personality is being left behind.
Ruud: The essence of a Fluxus-performance.
Litsa: Yes. I am certain that a person can be either one, none or hundred thousand personalities, like L. Pirandello writes. An artists can find all these identities in him/herself.
14 What is the last thing you learned from life?
Ruud: That it passes by quickly and life is short. So many things one wants to do and yet so little time to realize it all.
Litsa: Tomorrow I will be younger.
15 What four elements does the world consist of, to you?
Litsa: One of them is Fish.
Ruud: One of them surely if fire
Litsa: There is also the Firefish!
Ruud: In which part of the world is that found?
Litsa: In this interview that isn’t important. We first should decide whether a Firefish is an element?
Ruud: In mathematics a fish can be an element. So yes. If we agree that Firefish is one of the elements, we only need three more.
Litsa: The second one is utopia. The third one is love. The fourth one is memory.
Ruud: Can’t we combine them into one element. Something like Utolovelymemory?
Litsa Spathi & Ruud Janssen
© 2005 by Fluxus Heidelberg Center