Thuistezien 298 — 02.01.2022

Cesare Pietroiusti
24 hours interview

When 12 professionals from the international art scene are asked to conduct an interview with an artist that lasts a continuous 24 hours, the result can be no less than an utter extraction of the artist’s mind. This extensive interview is not only a thorough investigation of the interviewed, but also a deep leap into the consciousness of a human mind. How will an (artist) mind respond to a continuous flow of questions when these are being presented to him in a state which, to some, may seem inhumane?

West Den Haag presented this project on November 12th, 2021 when they invited the Italian artist Cesare Pietroiusti to be interviewed for 24 hours. After Douglas Park in 2016, Gary Hill in 2018, now for the third time in West’s history and for the first time in the former American embassy building, the interview was once again successfully conducted. During the 24 hours, the interviewers had each two hours to get to know the artist in depth from whatever angle they desired. But as often happens with interviews, these conversations could take unexpected turns. The exhibition ‘A variable number of things’ by Pietroiusti that, one year long, was presented at West, was a great starting point for several of the interviews. In some cases, the exhibition was literally incorporated into the conversation, which was the case with the interview from writer and NRC-columnist Christiaan Weijts who asked Pietroiusti to sign the little booklet ‘Non Functional Thoughts’ from the exhibition in the manner of Pietroiusti’s own game-instructions in the book. A game-like happening was a reoccurring event in the interviews, such as when the graduating art student Lotus Dali Rooijakkers suggested to Pietroiusti that they played a game while conducting the interview as it would open up for other ways of thinking. Later the game thinker Bruno Setola, brought his specially made game into the interview. Resembling a memory game, Pietroiusti was invited to pick and choose cards from the table which would reveal a question for the artist.

The game as a concept was a repearting topic in several of the interviews. When arts and culture advisor Vinod Singh asked about the importance of rules and boundaries in his practice, Pietroiusti explained how and why he phrases his ‘non-functional thought’ as a game.

Not surprisingly, the topic of the art market came into discussion in several of the interviews. Having been out of the gallery scene for around 30 years of his practice, many of the interviewers were curious about his relation to the commodity of artworks. For decades, Pietroiusti has challenged and even disrupted the art market, firstly by doing art performances but also by giving away his artworks for free and asking the receiver to complete the work by destroying it. As he explained in the interview with curator Baruch Gottlieb, he finds the possibility to work as an artist without having to sell artworks important. To be fundamentally free from pressure, especially economically, is crucial for the creative process, and he could see how his own practice turned less rigorous and more repetitive when working with a gallery.

It is difficult to cover the entire context of a 24 hour long interview in one text and I recommend you to discover the content of the interview which covers many aspects of Pietroiusti's artistic oeuvre yourself. The entire 24 hours interview was live-streamed and recorded by the West team and it can be watched online on the website. Feel free to take your time to watch the entire interview or, otherwise, dive into the 12 specific parts of the 24 hours. You can find the time slots of the 12 interviewers beneath:

20:00 — 22:00 Christiaan Weijts
22:00 — 24:00 Yasser Ballemans
24:00 — 02:00 Kianoosh Motallebi
02:00 — 04:00 Jorne Vriens
04:00 — 06:00 Vinod Singh
06:00 — 08:00 Baruch Gottlieb
08:00 — 10:00 Lotus Rooijakkers
10:00 — 12:00 Bruno Setola
12:00 — 14:00 Leontine Coelewij
14:00 — 16:00 Filippo Tocchi
16:00 — 18:00 Karima Boudou
18:00 — 20:00 Nienke Terpsma

The exhibition ‘A variable number of things’ by Cesare Pietroiusti was the second in a series of one-year-long exhibitions which started off with the exhibition ‘Time – Life’ by Tehching Hsieh famous for his ‘One Year Performances’. Following up in line, the widely acclaimed actor, singer and activist who became famous throughout the late 1920s and 1930s for his cultural work and for his political stances Paul Robeson.

Text: Rosa Zangenberg