Walead Beshty


Notes de mon entretien avec Walead Beshty le 21 octobre 2013 à Paris


Relationship with reality

Non representability

Photos interested in its own process

At same time it is a concrete object, reflecting the conditions of its surroundings, informed

Use the word experimental in a scientific sense

Experimental: jargon to free yourself. Reactionary. Misrepresents what it is.

Curious about terminology; very careful.


Understanding of the life of objects.
Way to get around political issues. Evacuation of meaning.

How language is embodied.

Bricolage, innovation within constraints.

I dislike definitions, partitions, terms like photography, painting.


Constraints were designed by programs, by apparatus, by power relationship

Program has the ideological effect.

Influence of Flusser. Bureaucracy


Process very important, iterations fighting the apparatus

Very structured, counter intuitive manner.

Set of operations, not necessarily with a meaning.

Bricolage, Levi-Strauss

Wary of the idea of refusal. Not to be binary.

Opposition to something reinforces the dominance of what you are opposed to.

Hacke reaffirms institutional domination, by emulating its speech, by opposing.

But always negotiations

Things are actually more unstable.

Playing tai-chi, not boxing

Quotes Michel de Certeau: individuals not institutions. Individuals can improvise, institutions have to be consistent.  Individuals can be non-ideological, inconsistent


Authorship. Process clearly defined (title, anybody can do it), but did not think about disappearance of the author. It does not matter who does it. Not making it mysterious, prestigious, very simple. Not emphasizing process, describing it. « a damn machine »

Not importing scientific language. It misrepresents what I do.

Aura, unique, but can be repeated. At different times, different settings, never totally equivalent.

Depends what model you apply to it; differences are constantly renegotiated. How useful is the distinction?

No absolute form of uniqueness or sameness. For some uses, say one, for others, say the other.

Language and conceptual tools are not rigid, not absolute, we need to keep our freedom vis-à-vis them.

Not a question of the market. The market has no brain, has less power than people think. How many multiples in an edition? Why stop at a given number?


Idea of destruction, of deteriorating. Berlin project.

Not needing to have a negation.

Things are just inscribed. Nothing is ever lost, not a destruction.

Works show their context

The photograms respond to conditions of production (light, …), but they don’t react to the context in which they are shown. You can never see them in isolation; they are never the same, different emphasis on the condition of the object. Always deal with the context.

Analogy with the condition of meaning. All objects have meaning when people are around them.

It seems too dandyish, too much persona attached to the work.

Question about authorship: set them in a different way.


About Bourriaud:

WB exploring the heart of the machinery

But also social context, hence relational aesthetics.

The two elements are combined, not opposed

(relational aesthetics remain as part of the system, not rebellion against the program)

Power becomes naturalized, people adapt to it


Interest for digital image

Jpeg dropped in a text program: adding something to the image

Expands on it


David Robbins’ book; fun and no-fun.


Any inspirers?

Dan Graham, Rosemarie Trockel

Contemporary photographers?

Shirin Neshat (movement, synchronization) frame (borders) and veil

Like Moholy-Nagy: Jim Welling, fluidity, non-ideological, work connected to light, not presumptuous about implications

Jay de Feo (1929-1989)

Morgan Fisher (cinema)


I don’t know about photo in particular, I am interested in bigger ideas

How to define photography?