Q&A with Quinn Latimer

Quinn Latimer is an American poet and critic based in Basel. KUNSTforum asked her some questions about her work and inspirations.

She is first and foremost a writer, although Quinn Latimer’s practice takes many forms. She is the Editor-in-Chief for Publications for documenta 14, but today, Tuesday November 25th, she is in Bergen, Norway, to talk about the current Julia Wachtel exhibition at No.5, Bergen Kunsthall.

Can you give a brief description of the exhibition of Julia Wachtel’s work, and your interest/involvement with the exhibition?
– I was asked earlier this year by curator Reto Thüring to write the main essay for a new monograph produced about Julia’s work, which will be published by Yale University Press later this month.

Julia Wachtel, Horn Blower, 1986.

Julia Wachtel, Horn Blower, 1986.

The book, which also includes an interview with Julia by Johanna Burton, was produced in conjunction with her recent survey exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art in the US. This exhibition, like the one at Bergen Kunsthall, is part of renewed interest and effort in showcasing Julia’s important oeuvre, which is based in both Pop art and the Pictures Generation, yet moves on from there, predicting many of the concerns of the current generation of artists, from post-Internet aesthetics and appropriation to a reclaiming of cartoon figuration.

What other exhibitions and/or projects are you currently working on?
 – I am currently working on a book titled Anthology, which is a kind of self-conscious collection of critical prose, poetry, and more hybrid texts that pull from history, letters, and fiction. It plays with the idea of a collection of disparate works, while also being very much a book-length project. I am also the Editor-in-Chief of Publications for documenta 14, and I am moving to Athens in January, where I will be working on that project for the next three years.

Can you give a brief description of your practice?
– I am a writer, and though my work takes many forms — criticism, poetry, performance, teaching, editing publications, as well as curating exhibitions on occasion—my interest in language and writing drives everything I do.

Can you name a curator or curatorial team or exhibition that has inspired your own practice?
– For the past six years that I’ve lived in Basel, Switzerland, I’ve been very inspired by Adam Szymczyk’s work at Kunsthalle Basel, not just by his exhibitions but by the political commitment and emotional intelligence he brought to the projects he did there. His work is always keyed into the basic human collaboration at its root, and the political possibilities of that collaboration. I am very excited to work with him on documenta 14 for this very reason.

Can you name an artist, work of art or exhibition that has inspired you?
– Today I am inspired by the people of Ferguson, Missouri, as well as all those around the US (and perhaps the world) who are in the streets and protesting the systemic institutional racism and injustice under which they live. The art world is fine, but it is the world world in which we must really make and dedicate our work.

Is there an author or a book, fiction or theory, that has inspired your works?
– Ah, too many to count. In my suitcase right now are books by Walter Benjamin, Anne Carson, Claudia Rankine, Lisa Robertson, Susan Sontag, Giorgio Agamben, Renata Adler, Stathis Gourgouris, Ulises Carrion, Etel Adnan, and some others. In honor of #Ferguson today, I’d recommend Rankine’s poetry collection Citizen. Everyone should read it. Today or any day.

Why is art important?
– It is how we describe the world to ourselves, and how others show us who we are, or could be. In its metaphor we become real — I think — whatever that means. Also: alongside love, art makes life bearable.

If you’re in Bergen, you can attend the talk at Landmark, Bergen Kunsthall from 7pm. Live streaming of the talk from Landmark, here. The Julia Wachtel exhibition is at No.5 at Bergen Kunsthall until December 14.

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