08.06.2017 – 30.07.2017

Excerpt from Dreifuss, an interview book
Sorin Neamțu in dialogue with Cristi Puiu

omanian one is smarter, it has a shorter arm, it’s a bit different.
Sorin Neamțu: But I knew that this instrument is used for shoes.
CP: Yes, it’s called dreifuss.
SN: I thought it was used to hammer metal plates…
CR: No, no, no, I asked them to bring me one because I think it’s the very object that contains in it my vision about art and what art is. Actually I think that the artistic object is the object that has a function par excellence and as a secondary effect (“Art” occurs).
SN: This contradicts all the theories about art…
CP: Why? Not all of them…
SN: Not all, just this one, that art is without function.
CP: I do not believe this. As for myself at least, I cannot see in this anything but a bourgeois whim. I think it’s a form of coquetry, you know? Of petty bourgeoisie self indulgence and coquetry with the idea of key-character, in history, somehow. I mean a lot of things are possible, you can imagine yourself in all possible ways, but the way you will imagine yourself as an artist will represent in a certain degree the idea of unique, of singular, you know? You are not an assembly line worker, you are not Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times. And even if you were Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times you would still be unique because he cannot be repeated.
SN: Ok, but where is the argument for utilitarianism? I mean function art, pragmatic art?
CP: There are two things. I mean you can see the story from two perspectives. From the author’s point of view and from the spectator’s/ consumer’s/addressee’s. Obviously I can be a potential or real consumer and not necessarily the addressee, although I think we are all addressees without the author knowing who exactly are the addressees. Because you throw a word or a gesture into the abyss and the abyss is answering you. Because there are some voices there, some brains that are on the same road as you are. So anyway, whether you want it or not, you are the addressee of an artist’s gesture, an artist that you get attached to because he or she is talking to you in a certain way.
SN: Ok, but you’re still not giving me the argument for…
CP: Right. And the question is: why am I doing this? Do you happen to drink gasoline? You’ll never drink gasoline, will you? You will never ingest things that destroy you, only things that somehow build you, that bring you in a sort of balance with the cosmos. This is the number one function of art, even if people do ballet here.
SN: Yes, but it’s something that has to do with the spirit, not with concrete things, but we started from this object.
CP: Yes. But from the author’s point of view things change. The distance you have to cover, as an author, towards the object that is somehow fuzzy in your mind and that you peel rises progressively in you and is never fulfilled, it is fulfilled only partially, temporarily, as well as the satisfaction you have when you stop in a station but the journey is long. You stop in a station, you gather breath, you get off the train, run to the water fountain, get some water. These are the works, the masterpieces, but the journey is a very, very precise one towards something that cannot be necessarily defined or definable. Although it might get to be defined. I mean you can define it, you could be in the situation where you put in words what you want to obtain and you discover that there is a function, a precise purpose, you know? That you will never reach and all the rest are gestures that you make on the way.

Courtesy of the artist and BARIL