Rather than line up the customary one person to interview him for Interview’s just out Insiders issue, Hal Foster chose to allow Tacita Dean, Seth Price, Jeffrey Eugenides, Rachel Kushner, Jeremy Deller, Thomas Hirschhorn, Wade Guyton, Rivka Galchen, and Thomas Demand to each ask him a question.
And they’re all very good questions! I suppose I’ll highlight Tacita Dean’s:
TACITA DEAN: A swinish question: How do you perceive your relationship to established power?
FOSTER: I don’t feel subversive, but then I don’t feel corrupt either. As a young critic, I was phobic about the market until Barbara Kruger said to me one day, “There is nothing, not even the lint on your sweater, that’s not touched by the market. Get over it.” By which she meant: find a realistic relation to it; fantasies of a pure outside aren’t helpful. Still, I have more than a trace of Romantic anti-capitalism in me. I think most leftish people do. It comes with being a kid in the 1960s, and then emerging as a critic in the 1980s, with Reagan, deregulation, the sheer awfulness of what we now call neoliberalism. Wall Street money suddenly washed over the art world, which was changed utterly, and independent space for critical work shrunk dramatically. I was an editor at Art in America at the time, and the market reformatted everything before our eyes. I ran to the academy as if it were a sanctuary, which it was—there was a short period when the humanities were taken by critical theory. But I soon discovered you’re as much a commodity there as anywhere else. The university does screen you from power, however; my own is bound up with governments and corporations in ways both good and bad, but it affects me little either way. The art world is far more naked in its involvement with power. At dinners after openings I sometimes feel like I’m watching bank accounts have sex. But as I mentioned in response to Devin, I’m a very small chip in the casino that is the art world.