in Interviews | 05 MAY 08
Featured in
Issue 115

Questionnaire: Manon de Boer

What should change? The weather in Brussels

in Interviews | 05 MAY 08

Michelangelo Antonioni, La Nolte (The Night), 1961, film still

What do you wish you knew?
How to stay calm when a computer or projector breaks down half an hour before an opening.

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?
I have a very clear memory of seeing Bruce Nauman’s Get Out of My Mind, Get Out of This Room (1968) at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam. I was in my first or second year at art school and it was the first time, as a spectator, I had felt so strongly part of the physical space of the work and the mental space of the artist.

What image keeps you company in the space where you work?
A still from Jean-Luc Godard’s film Le Mépris (Contempt, 1963), in which Brigitte Bardot sits on the edge of an electric blue couch next to an enormous window, and a big painting of a disco ball falling apart by a friend of mine, Annemiek de Haan.

If you could live with only one piece of art, what would it be?
There is a Discussion (1981) by Ian Wilson. It is an unlimited edition of one of his certificates that, unlike the others he has issued, doesn’t refer to a particular work in his ‘Discussion’ series. I have one at home. It always reminds me that the basis of love, art and friendship is the exchange and sharing of thought.

What is your favourite title of an art work?
Travelling Amazonia (2006) by Marine Hugonnier. It is a crystal clear title that contains all the different layers of the film without reducing it to a pun.

What films have most influenced you?
Spiritual Voices (1995) by Alexander Sokurov and La Notte (The Night, 1961) by Michelangelo Antonioni. Spiritual Voices was one of the most intense experiences I have had of duration becoming part of the content of the film. Although it lasts more than five hours, I felt it needed that time. In La Notte Jeanne Moreau observes, and is simultaneously the subject of, the story. Her sovereign, silent face occupies a space between the viewer and the story unfolding around her that reminds me of the blank white spaces between paragraphs in the books of Marguerite Duras – a space or silence that speaks.

What are you reading?
Less Than One (1986) by Joseph Brodsky, a book my father gave me years ago and that I just came across again on my bookshelves. And Means without End: Notes on Politics (2000) by Giorgio Agamben. It is beautiful how he relates life, thought and gesture (in what I have read so far).

What music are you listening to?
As background when I’m working, all kinds of music. Over the past couple of weeks I have been listening to Adnos (1974) by Eliane Radigue and various works by Giacinto Scelsi. I find their music irritating when it’s on in the background, but when I really listen to it I feel like I’m being transported to a very particular experience of time and space, somewhere beyond daily life.

What do you like the look of?
My love when he searches for words while developing a thought. And, in general, the look of the expression of life.

What should stay the same?
The climate.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?
I often long for moments of doing nothing – just wandering around the city or taking long walks in the countryside. If I could write, I would be a writer.

What is art for?
Art is for life.

Manon de Boer is an artist based in Brussels. For the occasion of her recent solo exhibition ‘The Time that is Left’ at the Frankfurter Kunstverein and a solo exhibition at Witte de With, Rotterdam, a catalogue on her work, titled The Time that is Left, will be published in June 2008. Her work is currently on display as part of the Berlin Biennial 2008.