Jeff Koons, Rem Koolhaas, Hans Ulrich Obrist at the Serpentine

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Some thought it too dangerous to attempt under a helium filled balloon. Nevertheless, like a summit between the forces of good and the forces of evil (though which is which isn’t entirely clear), Rem Koolhaas and Jeff Koons appeared together as the jewel in the crown of Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrists Serpentine Pavilion lecture marathons.

It was a great event with the super-smooth, ex-Wall St trader prodded by – as Koolhaas described himself – ‘a caricature of a critical European’.

Here are a few brief notes that I took – little opinion and less conclusion:

Koolhaas’ interest in the mechanics of Koons Inc: How big is the enterprise? How does it produce work? Even: ‘Is there a `CEO’?’

(Answer around 70 people, in office, sculpture, painting and painting/sculpture roles)

Images: Koons describing how as a seven year old taking art classes. After some Hawaiian punch his elderly teacher would take Koons’ drawing saying ‘Jeff – you can’t take this home, it look like Frankenstein’ Then she’d sit with him while she erased and then corrected his drawing. ‘That’s how I learnt to work with other people’

Koolhaas on the way that economics creates different programmes and timescales in the production of work, that inspiration is not immediately endorsed.

In response to a question about how the art market has changed:
Koons: Art is meeting a need of people – it is a way of understanding parameters.
Art is a hub connecting architecture with physics (etc)
It brings trancesdance into their life.

Koolhaas: Are collectors a fair representation of mankind?

Koons (in response to questions about artist as expert collector and seller): Eventually, I just become lost in my work

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Some drawings of a projected project titled ‘Hulk Rock’, a huge inflatable Hulk inside a Venetian Palazzo. The Hulk carries a rock on its back ‘like Sisyphus’, ‘a guardian but with a sense of impending danger’

And if the proposed Palazzo falls through, then maybe it could be resitied
Koons: Maybe it’s in the side of a mountain in a concave carved out space
Koolhaas: In Afghanistan? Where the Buddha’s used to be?

Koons: See everything as an opportunity. Stay focused then amazing things can happen’

Obrist notes that unrealised projects have more currency in architecture than art

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Koons shows ‘Dictator’: A replica of a civil war canon that can shoot a canon ball two and a half miles. Remarks upon its sexual power: ‘It looks castrated, but if you are around it, its not’

Koolhaas talks about the scale of Koons projects, and the scale of art in general – Tate Moderns turbine hall as an amplifier of art.

Koons: Find the scale of an idea.

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‘Train’: a crane that suspends a steam train. Proposed for LACMA. A hanging puffing train that will have an orgasm. Speeding up, then ‘woo! woo!’
Koons: Crane is a great readymade

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‘Building Blocks’ designed for a site in Manhattan, 160ft high. 5000 plants on an open framework grown hydroponically)
Koolhaas: ‘Like a Trojan horse?’

Koolhaas: Always amazed at Koons’ ability to be positive – does this even include contemporary architecture?

Koons on Manhattan: A place where once can be very focussed but still have information flowing in

Koons: The journey of art begins with self-acceptance. Objective art is about Love.

(Untaken photographic image – the look on Koolhaas’ face when Koons starts talking about love)

Koons: When I use the word ‘love’ it means acceptance. Everything on the same level, no greater than you or less than you.

Obrist: How do you consider the audience?
Koons: The art is in the viewer. When the viewer leaves the room, the art leaves. The object is a transponder.

On the ‘Sex’ series: Koons: about the removal of guilt and shame, not to have the shame of the body, and letting acceptance in.
(Koolhaas blows his nose)

Koons on ‘Cracked Egg’ – inspired in part by Botticellis ‘Birth of Venus’ – the beauty is actually the shell.

Koolhaas: Living various artistic moments simultaneously.

Koons, on the production of ‘Cracked Egg’: When the viewer is looking at the piece, within the communication that is occurring, there is a suspension of disbelief’
”I don’t care about craft, but it is showing a disrespect to the viewer. Not attending to detail is not attending to them.’
On casting ever perfection and imperfection of aqualung, on finding the base hadn’t been cast with a concave dimple. ‘Even though nobody would see it, only the guy installing it’ meant that the base had to be reworked.

Koons: Art going beyond the gallery concerns the communication of the idea, not the media.

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