“Hans Haacke and Sarah Kleinman in Conversation” coincided with the opening reception of Hans Haacke’s exhibition, Dreams that Money Can Buy (Update), on view from September 30 to December 16, 2016 at the Maier Museum at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia. Our conversation is prefaced by my ten minute introduction to Mr. Haacke’s work, which is the subject of my 2016 MA Qualifying Paper.
I began my investigation of Hans Haacke’s work in Robert Hobbs‘ spring 2015 graduate seminar, Conceptual Art. Haacke’s research-driven approach, criticality of the establishment, and his German heritage compelled me to delve into his oeuvre. In January 2016, I received a VCUarts Graduate Research Grant to conduct fieldwork and archival research at the Giardini della Biennale in Venice and the Historical Archives of Contemporary Art (ASAC) in Porto Marghera, Italy.
To obtain access to the Giardini and the German Pavilion, which are closed to the public from November until the Biennale opens in early March, I contacted Germany’s Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations) (IFA) and the Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit (The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building, and Nuclear Safety) (BMUB), the agencies that fund and administer the pavilion. The managing architect of the pavilion granted me free reign of the site, including the roof.
From January 10 to 20, 2016, I explored the City of Venice and documented every archival document in the German Pavilion files, focusing on the years 1933 to 1948, coinciding with the rise of the Third Reich and Hitler’s dictum to renovate the pavilion to emulate the ascetic architectural language of National Socialism, and from 1991 to 1993, when the recently reunified Federal Republic of Germany planned its first post-Cold War biennale. Though I found an abundance of documents pertaining to the 1937-38 renovation of the pavilion, Haacke had left little trace of his own archival research.
With little substance on which to base my analysis of Haacke’s installation (aside from extant scholarship), I contacted the artist in March 2016 to see if he might be available and willing to discuss the installation. Our meeting took place on Thursday, May 26, 2016 at Haacke’s New York studio. As we wrapped up the interview, Haacke asked if I was familiar with a small university museum in Lynchburg. At the time, I was not acquainted with the Maier, though that would soon change.
In August 2016, the Maier’s curator of education learned about my research and invited me to present a lecture on the artist’s 50-year career. Two weeks before the opening reception, Mr. Haacke arranged to visit Lynchburg to install his work. This serendipitous series of events represents a significant point in my MA research and in my career.
In effort to respect Mr. Haacke’s request not to circulate his image online and in the media, the video of our conversation is available only via password. Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about accessing the video.
Press from the event is available at The Burgh.