TSL: In “The Kiss,” you made an unauthorized donation of your own artwork to MOMA. In “My Most Favourite Art,” you’re stealing the artwork title cards from museums all over the world. But we’re not supposed to touch anything in a museum, much less donate or steal something. What interests you about interfering with what we’re supposed to do in a museum?
In 2004 I started to steal exhibition plaques not only from museums but also from galleries and non-commercial artist spaces, which I merge into my own “art collection.” The only criterion for the theft of a label is kind of an obsession for the work, which belongs to it. My first intention was not to do something illegal but to bring together all the works that impressed me personally. Somehow I founded my own collection in the only way I could afford to do that. It builds a collection of memories, which can be decoded and re-formed to pictures again by the viewers. The words on the labels in the form of written titles, artists’ names, dimensions and materials of each work evoke pictures in the viewer’s minds, even if there is no memory of a specific work, the imagination creates a new picture for it.
To break rules was only my second intention. Breaking rules within an over-regulated society is to make the state of affairs visible and draw attention to the limits of a certain system. “The Kiss” ends up demanding the viewer create his/her own imagination of my former held performance by reading a text.
TSL: Have you ever been caught?
No, I was always very careful. If the situation was inconvenient I’d go to a museum/gallery for a second time. Anyway, I intend to create silent pieces, which can easily be overlooked on first view, and not to evoke public disputes.
This is an ongoing email conversation between Lauren Spohrer and Austrian artist Maria Anwander.