Thomas Hirschhorn - Contemporary Art London Friday, October 13, 2006 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    “From the outset I wanted my works to fight for their existence… The issue of choice of material is political but it’s also pragmatic. Joseph Beuys said ‘I work with what I’ve got. What I find around me’ in my case I don’t have fat or felt , I don’t have sandblasted glass around me nor am I surrounded by gold and marble. I haven’t got a big lightbox. What I’ve got around me is some packing tape; there’s some aluminum foil in the kitchen and there are cardboard boxes and wood panels downstairs on the street. That makes sense to me. I use the materials around me. These materials have no energetic or spiritual power. They’re materials that everyone in the world is familiar with; they’re ordinary materials. You don’t define their use in advance; they aren’t loaded. There’s no doubt, no mystery, no surplus value. I have to like it in order not to give it any importance. I have to like the material I work with, and I have to be patient with it.

    These are materials that do not require any explanation of what they are. I wanted to make ‘poor’ art, but not Arte Povera. My work has nothing to do with Arte Povera. Because it’s poor art, the materials must be poor too; quite simply, materials that make you think poverty. To make poor art means to work against a certain idea of richness. To make rich art means to work with established values; it means to work with a definition of quality that other people have made. I want to provide my own definition of quality, of value and richness. I refuse to deal with established definitions. I’m trying to destabilize them. I’m trying to contaminate them with a certain non-valuable aspect of reality. The value system is a security system. It’s a system for subjects without courage. You need values to ensure yourself, to enclose yourself in your passivity and anxiety. You need the idea of quality to neutralize your proper freedom: the fact that it’s you who decides what’s valuable or of worth. People need quality as a kind of ghost who helps you escape the real. To make poor art is a way to fight against this principle. Quality, No! Energy, Yes!

    All of the materials I use have some local or vernacular usage the aluminum foil you see in rural discos; the photocopies you see stuck up on university notice boards; the packing tape you see everywhere; the wood and cardboard I can find on the street; the cheap reusable paper is very common. All of the possible associations – from drugs bagged up in plastic and tape, to the cheap suitcase that bursts at the airport and which you quickly tape up – all those local or vernacular references are deliberate. It’s a political choice,” (T. Hirschhorn taken from an interview with Alison Gingeras in B.H.D Buchloh, A.M. Gingeras and C. Basualdo, Thomas Hirschhorn, London, 2004, pp. 15-16).


Abstrait Relief No. 548 (Nietzche)

Aluminum foil, plastic, and paper collage in wooden frame.
89 x 68 x 5 in. (226.1 x 172.7 x 12.7 cm).
Signed, titled and dated “Thomas Hirschhorn Relief Abstrait No 548 (Nietzsche) 1999” on the reverse.

£35,000 - 45,000 

Sold for £84,000

Contemporary Art

14 Oct 2006, 7pm