Recorded on April 1 2012
[Silvia: If I had dinner here it would be something I would look at but I did not have an active interaction about or with it. – Helen: Like you looked at it all the time but you would not necessarily be thinking about it all the time. But I think it does add something, to your eating or laptop experience, having this thing here in the table. – Nizar: Did you guys have people over for dinner? Did it add anything to it or not really. Did you talk about it? – Silvia: It was part of the conversation, it was not ignored. But it did not open up a real discussion.]
A CONVERSATION STARTER?
Few considerations on the Table and reactions to the piece.
Nizar: I feel like this is a dining table and the reaction depends on different things, on the kind of people. In TV talk shows, for example, people go and discuss things, but they go there to discuss something. I think that the Table Museum should do that and push toward that direction.
Silvia: The thing to me though is that if a discussion starts it should be spontaneous. The Table Museum in the end remains a table where people eat. It is not an art discussion, if it goes into that direction, good, if that does not happen it could be for a million reasons and it is not a big deal.
Nizar: This is true. But if you are discussing what the artist would like to happen, I think about having a discussion with people, talking about it. This piece is open ended and what made it interesting for me is hearing other people’s opinions, other people’s ideas.
Helen: I feel like it is also not just talking about it, we are all looking at it everyday. And I simply have never been able to decide what I think about these pink cigarettes. They are the most visually intriguing part of the piece, and the part that makes you look at it and try to figure out what it is and here it is also something just bizarre. This is what I liked about having this piece here because I felt like I had this back and forth with myself. Sometimes, I felt like I love these pink cigarettes, because you never know what to do with them and they are ‘the question’ in the piece, and some other times I think: why are there pink cigarettes in my table?
Nizar: But you did not get bored of it?
Helen: No I did not get bored of it. I felt like when I ended up spending some time looking at it I would never quite settle on a feeling, I never got to the point of saying ‘this is what it is and what it is doing and what it is about’
Nizar: I think that was maybe what I was going for. That is what a lot of my work is about. Sometimes you would notice it, sometimes you would pass by and take a deep breath and go but just that interaction, that is already enough for me. Instead, if I had done a picture of Tin Tin, you would have looked at it and then never look at it again. Unless you have an obsession for Tintin.
Helen: Well, we would have developed an obsession for Tintin.
Silvia: Yes. Now that I think about it, before I said I did not have much of a conversational interaction with the piece. But, the image that I had seen in the table, at a more subconscious level, has started interacting with previous images that I had in my mind.
Helen: I think this is in general how the Table Museum ends up working. We are all running around and we don’t always sit and talk about it, but what actually happens is that we all look at this piece every day.
Silvia: And it seeds in you and eventually that image whether you want it or not, does become part of your life. Those conversations/interactions happen at an image level.
On the two pieces and their making
Nizar: I think that this piece has something of hypnotic and I think, maybe if I had done two different pieces, both hypnotic at the same level, that would have had a different effect.
Helen: I definitely feel that way. For this one I actually can’t read it and every once in a while I would forget what it means, so it kind of disappeared sometimes.
Nizar: Yeah, I just felt like giving it a title that would open space for discussion. In retrospect, I should have probably done another piece and told you the title and put it on the website, that would have been enough.
Silvia: Yes, the title becomes a little explanatory. Another question, when you came in you said that a kind of a really long and troubled process happened to arrive to these two pieces. What was that process about?
Nizar: When I started working on this topic [visual representation of filth and sex in the Middle East] the first idea was to work around the images of male and female organs for the bottom of the display boxes and fill the spots with cigarettes and then, if somebody coming over during that period had had luck, the person could have picked up a cigarette. At the end it would have revealed the image or not and maybe you guys would have never known what it was. But then I thought it was too impracticable with the glass, to remove it every time.
Helen: And there would have not been anything organic in lifting the glass and putting it back.