by Silvia Freiles
Silvia Freiles: After almost sixty years since the establishment of Twenty-six Gasoline Stations, what is, in your opinion, the role of the artist book in today’s world of globalization that deeply changes and amplifies our relation with the image?
Ed Ruscha: The “Artist Book” remains a miniscule force in 2008’s art world. It also springs from and embraces the world of crafts and the handmade item. There is also a confusing line between artist books and an artist’s catalogues.
S.F.: The word, as integrating portion of the artist book, as title or underline, considered by you as visual material in comparison to a sculpture, has being emptied, in the last decades, of its symbolic meaning and became a mere tool to communicate. Did this affect your last artist books?
E.R.:Words will always operate within the world of art and don’t have to necessarily communicate. They can be abstract or nonsensical or both.
S.F.: Moreover, computers are more and more replacing books; does all this will turn the artist book in something rare and most valuable while it was created to be “a first-class serial product”? How do you face such a contradiction?
E.R.: In my view, there are no contradictions since I don’t see computers replacing books. I’m still living in 1960.
S.F.: Objects reproduced in your books seem to be “frozen” in a perfect world that does not exist, as “facts” to observe with indifference; the same thing happens to words, beyond their relation with what they represent (“Those words were like flowers in a pot. It happened to me to draw words as a painter draws flowers”). Beyond the immediate perception of the fact represented by a word, you show another relation with the real world, anything but simple (the Los Angeles world, so loved and so familiar to you, the core of your interests), made by a reflective, engrossed, absent-minded gleam.
How much this aspect is secret and how is showed by you on purpose?
E.R.: Artists show only art of the whole picture. It would be an act of desperation to attempt telling the whole, complete story. A work of art would die if it tried to lay out all of its cards.
S.F.: What is the role and the identity of the individual, either as artist or as spectator?
E.R.: I like it when an artist can be both the creator and the spectator of his own art. This allows a creator to forever edit and renew a particular work. Works of art always go in and out of focus and return later to do the same thing again and again. To me, this is preferable to something that is acceptable and static.