johannes klabbers : random historical notes

Marcel Duchamp : “I like living, breathing better than working... my art is that of living. Each second, each breath is a work which is inscribed nowhere, which is neither visual nor cerebral, it's a sort of constant euphoria.”

I am a former academic (University of Newcastle School of Fine Arts Australia 1992-1994 and Charles Sturt University School of Visual and Performing Arts Australia 1995—2011) and an ex-artist (1987—2005) 1.

When I gave up making art I said: ‘There are already too many things in the world and I want to stop adding to them.’ The irony 2 of the fact that, ten years later there are thousands of copies of a book in the world with my name on it is not lost on me, but my hope is that those books will be or have been or are being read — and that the books being in the world will make a difference to some people who are suffering — and this will be more than I ever achieved by making art or writing and talking about it.

When I gave up teaching I said: ‘Arrrrrrgh!’ 3

  1. Those who are that way inclined and persistent, may find evidence of exhibitions I curated and/or participated in, in the period 2005 - 2010. During this time I was trying to emulate, albeit in a very minor way, Marcel Duchamp’s non-practice - and I needed to find ways to be ‘research active’ as an academic without actually making anything, or, if I did cause something to exist, to be able to cancel it out as soon as possible with as little impact on or duration in the world as possible. One example of this was a work called postmortem (2008) exhibited at the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery where I arranged for the delivery of a 100 litre container of one of the strongest available liquid deodorisers, used primarily in funeral homes and mortuaries, direct to the gallery where it was put on a plinth and lit by the gallery staff. When the exhibition was over I donated the ‘artwork’ to a local funeral home who happily collected it and it was utilised in their everyday work. ↩︎
  2. There are other ironies too but I don’t want to waste my time writing about them. ↩︎
  3. I did make a sound recording of myself driving around that roundabout and out of the University gates for the very last time but it’s impossible to reproduce the sound I made in language so that will have to do. If anyone is interested I’ve got the sound file somewhere. ↩︎



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