Robert Smithson has become an important figure in my working life, not because I depend on him in any way, but because his work allows me a conceptual space where I can often reside. Artists don’t talk about this very much, because it’s extremely difficult to describe. It’s like an incredible excitement and attraction across time; a personal repartee with another’s thinking and energy communicated through their work.
Robert Smithson has dirtied my sheets, his shards of glass are always ending up in my arse whenever I sit up in my conceptual bed. I’ve spent most of my time in the studio trying to coax him out of my head by concocting the most elaborate traps that never seem to work.
Artist and spectral geneticist Norway Nori has focused on the ICI collaborator’s list for his contribution to 100/10. On April 1, 2011, Nori will send a brief e-questionnaire to a select group of individuals. Abiding by the ICI’s ‘rule of 100,’ Nori has selected 100 people who have in some way collaborated or interacted with the organization over its 20-year history.
Although we often willingly acknowledge the artists and thinkers whom we emulate, we often hide from view or discussion the creative forces crowding our conceptual bed, an artist to whom our work is continually likened, a theorist we continually try to hide in a footnote who is brought to center stage by members of a peer review or an insistent interlocutor at a public lecture. We all carry an artist, a scholar, a public figure as a thorn in our side. If, as Tacita Dean states, the artists we admire create the conceptual space in which we ply our craft, Nori believes the artists and scholars we dislike, disavow, or try to discredit, are the ones who more often direct our actions, create our paths, unmake our comfortable artistic bed.
Nori also believes groups of people coalesce around shared “intruders,” that a more silent, hidden genealogy binds groups of people together (“the façade of shared interests is a ruse”). Even though a collection of ICI practices may not reveal an essential core activity or sensibility, uncanny overlaps and resonances trace out an intellectual warren of shared closets. Nori builds on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s concept of “family resemblances,” wherein things that appear to be connected by a common feature may in fact be connected by a series of overlapping similarities, where no one feature is common to all. Dubbing his process spectral genetics, Nori intends to build the ICI’s phantom “family tree” from the answers on the collaborator’s questionnaires.
The questionnaire is an amalgamation of popular diagnostic tests including the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2), the Rorschach Ink Blot Test, the Myers Briggs Personality Test, and a simple genetic screening questionnaire you might fill out in a doctor’s office. It includes such questions as: “Do you like animals?”, “Do you lock your apartment or house at night?” and “what is the brand name of your comfort food?” Together, the questions create a raucous narrative that hints at an endless stream of interpretations. All invitees to the survey will receive a one-year “Mesmer” membership to the Institute of Cultural Inquiry.
Nori’s final report will be published as an insert to his 100/10∆3 catalog. This unique publication features a dustcover “catalog” that wraps around a slightly used book of the artist’s choice. Nori has chosen Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Blue and Brown Books thereby revealing one of his own family “roots.” The 100/10∆3 catalog will be available through our gift shop beginning June 1, 2011.