Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On Kawara


1. For Japanese, Korean, and other languages that do not use Roman letters, Kawara uses Esperanto to write the date.

2. On December 28, 1972, Kawara wrote, in Swedish (because he was then in Stockholm), the last of these subtitles: "I don't know." Since then the only subtitle has been the weekday on which that Date Painting was executed. This last testimony can be seen as yet another instance of Kawara's increasingly radical intellectual skepticism.

3. Jean-Paul Sartre's novel La Nausée, 1938 (Nausea), had a formative influence on the young Kawara. Since the 1970s, however, he has become more engaged with the ideas of the Russian-Armenian mystic George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, for whom linguistic communication was inadequate in the search for a "primordial condition," a state of consciousness or "aspect of the mind higher than ordinary thought."

4. These telegrams followed three he sent for the "18 Paris IV.70" exhibition: "I am not going to commit suicide—don't worry" (December 5, 1969); "I am not going to commit suicide—worry" (December 8, 1969); and "I am going to sleep—forget it" (December 11, 1969).

5. In 1962 Kawara visited the cave paintings of Altamira, which made a profound impression on him. Rather than considering them prehistoric, he saw them as "beyond history" and "beyond language": for him, they make a direct appeal outside time. Moreover, given that they were executed in artificial light, they bear witness to an extension of diurnal time unprecedented in human history.

6. In the mid-1960s Kawara made a number of works involving braille or self-invented visual codes. See Jonathan Watkins, "Where 'I Don't Know' Is the Right Answer," in On Kawara (New York: Phaidon, 2002), p. 82.

I really love this work, no need to write that other than a blogger conversation tonight where people were saying opionless posts were worthless. I beg to differ but there was mine, hence posting. I'd say it's pretty bloody obvious I like something if I post it!

Dia Art Foundation, Stockholm

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