Did you purposefully choose walls next to commercial
spaces for your work?
No. I take whatever wall is afforded me.
In the earlier days, it was really catch as catch can. There's no
site-specific intent in the work.
What's the relationship of
your work to docks?
Some people spend their time in art
academies, I spent my time making a living on the docks as a kid on the
east and west side of New York and Vancouver, New Brunswick, New Orleans,
Algiers, and Galveston, so the reference is the docks.
you end up doing that?
I come from an area in the South Bronx
where there was little employment. A lot of people were Merchant Marines.
There were also Mafiosi, which meant those people running the dock labor
unions - as a young Socialist working in civil rights, I found myself in
opposition, like a lot of people.
TO THE EXTENT OF HOW
VALLEY IS AT SOME GIVEN
I'm interested in the
transformation of your work from the early books to the internet, like Homeport,
the project you did with äda'web.
What are the differences between how public life has changed via
television as opposed to the internet?
I believe in books,
because society is in a position to close down the internet and everything
to do with it. McLuhan made
a mistake: the internet requires electricity, without it, we can't
produce. Books, once they're printed, have a tendency, even with the
Nazis, to survive. You can still find books underneath beds, in the Arab
world, in the mid-West, where they've been censored.
Cheryl Kaplan, 2005 All Rights Reserved
As opposed to the internet...
...which has a
specific hierarchy requiring the economics of being unemployed or being so
rich you can spend your life watching television. That's what the internet
Weiner: WAVE AFTER WAVE, 2002
Marian Goodman Gallery
Your earlier work
dealt with TV test patterns. Did Nam
June Paik interest you?
I liked his work, but it had little
to do with me. I wanted to use an iconic structure and build a
relationship to space. It was 1960, 1962. I learned more from Öyvind
Fahlström, who was doing the same kind of thing. Fahlström dealt
with reality by not accepting what they told you it should be. Nam June
was involved in universals, and I'm not.
Your 1991 work in
Vienna, "(IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT) SMASHED TO PIECES (IN THE STILL OF
THE NIGHT)" is amazing for its shift and use of redundancy and how you
allow an undermining to be felt.
If you went out in the street
in Vienna and broke a bottle in the middle of the day and listened to it,
and then did the same thing at night, they would sound a lot different.
two different versions of the same thing.
That's the point of
the work. Each person comes with their desires and builds their own
metaphor. The work has no metaphor - it's a reality. When you present a
work that has a metaphor, you're asking people to accept the value
structure that led to what you're showing as reality. The artist is not a
special person. The artist is an integral member of society. It's about
walking away with an understanding of your place in the world - that's the
whole purpose of art. I see metaphor as an imposition of a value structure
that you're making art in order to destroy. People want a reality that's
People look for equivalents. In your work,
dignity doesn't flinch.
It doesn't have to. We're still not at
the point that happens in other cultures, of rounding up artists and
removing them from view. As long as they're not doing that, we have an
obligation to do as much as we can.