Douglas Park, born: 23-01-1972, United Kingdom, visual artist, writer (of literary prose and critical essays, both mostly art connected), sometime exhibition curator (and increasingly all practices and roles combined), currently U.K based and internationally active
Friday, October 25, 2013
with Ji Yoon Yang
Corner Station (Ji Yoon Yang): Hello.This is Corner Station from Seoul.We’re here today with Douglas Park. An artist
from the U.K, here for an exhibition called Douglasism.Also, with Gregory Maass from Kim Kim
Gallery.Kim Kim Gallery is organizing this
exhibition, which is an interesting art project, referring to the artist’s own
Gregory Maass: Hello.Thank you for
Corner Station: Thank you for coming.
Douglas Park (to Gregory Maass): And thank you very much for
originating it.And (to Corner Station)
thankyou for inviting us here to this interview.
Corner Station: My 1st question is maybe a bit personal,
but is “Park” your original family name or is it a part of your persona?
Douglas Park: it is my birthname, Park.
Corner Station (interrupting): Really?
Douglas Park (continuing): I’m not 1 of these artists whose name
is an artwork.Like Billy Apple®, Ian Baxter &, Genesis Breyer
P-Orridge, Goran “Artiste Anonyme” Trbuljak, or someone I’ve worked with,
Gideon Sherman, who makes work changing his name by deed-poll, like New Gideon
Sherman, Gideon Cube-Sherman and Gideon Mœbius-Sherman.My birthname is “Park”…
Corner Station (interrupting):
Douglas Park (continuing): Which I understand, by coincidence,
alongside “Kim” and “Yang”, is a very well known family name here in
Corner Station: Yes…
Douglas Park (continuing): Wha is the meaning of the word and name
“Park” in Korean language and culture?
Corner Station: (laughs softly).I don’t know.I need to look it
Douglas Park: Is it like “Smith” in English, “Patel” in India and
whatever “Takahashi” means in Japanese?
Corner Station: It’s also 1 of the 3 or 5 biggest Korean last
names.I think so.I’ll have to look it up.It’s very common.
Douglas Park: But it is honestly my birthname.
Corner Station: Yeah.Because
I thought that it was a persona you created.
Douglas Park: No.I don’t
work with personas.I suppose, much of
what I do, as well as what is, I suppose, self-conscious, deliberate,
intentional or premeditated, I suppose what I find myself becoming aware of, is
I basically react to or engage with opportunities, commissions, collaborations,
which are mostly connected with working with other people or other people’s
practices.As I think I’ve said several
times, almost “living through” other people’s activities in terms of my own
production or outlet, much of what I do is input that’s often produced or
coming across in a very sort of autonomous or self-important way.But again, it’s not something I necessarily
set out to do, in many ways, I’m certainly all too aware of this, but it is I
suppose how the way things work out, in the sense that things become very
Gregory Maass: You have a very, so for the audience, a very peculiar
voice, I think, many people think that.
Douglas Park: Even in the United Kingdom!
Gregory Maass: Your voice, even in the United Kingdom, its over,
lets say overpronounced, overchiseled, speaking voice.Tell us about that, the role of your voice in
your art, did you artificially train yourself or just I mean, evidently, train
Douglas Park: If… I’m not sure what the actual answer to this is,
because again it doesn’t relate to anything I was ever…I mean, for instance, especially if I was
trying to say something of importance, as I am now, I actually very much try to
listen to or physically feel what I am saying, at the very time, almost like
I’m visually looking at myself.When I’m
saying things off-the-cuff, which may relate to readymade reality that already
exists, as I am now, there’s often an attempt to at least control or perfect
the quality, form, sound or, you might say, image of my voice (very
synesthesiac!).If I’m reciting or
recording something that I’ve already written, there’s far more effort and
channeling that I summon up and do my utmost to exercise and use.Again, its almost as if its though, similar
to my writing or what I describe or the perceptual, physical, cultural presence
or experience of my output and what I do, its almost as though it were
something physical made of material, say sculpture, objects, environments,
kinetic art, earthworks, buildings, architecture or perhaps a visual image.Only happening to exist and be made out of
language, to be read, looked at, heard, ignored or maybe to have some less
tangible effect upon people.I mean,
that’s a perfectly valid question, but I’m not really sure beyond what I just
attempted to say if or how that could actually be answered.
Gregory Maass: That was a very nice answer.Please.Next question.
Douglas Park: A rather long one, rather rambling as well!
Corner Station: I heard that 2013 this year has been your 20th
anniversary since you debuted as an artist.
Douglas Park: My 20th?!I’ve been involved in things since I was a teenager.I don’t know the significance of that.20th.
Corner Station: What was your 1st artwork or 1st
Douglas Park: I think I started making art, as a kid, in the
1980’s, amidst otherwise rather unfortunate external circumstances.
Gregory Maass: What does that mean, the “rather unfortunate external
Douglas Park: I’d prefer not to discuss.
Corner Station: Where did you grow up?
Douglas Park: In a sort of a backwater, a suburb, some distance
from London, in the South East of the United Kingdom.Where I still… again, because of
circumstance, not because of some choice, merit or flexibility to the
situation, I’m still stuck living or existing now, when I’m not elsewhere.But I mean I’ve been involved in things as
far back I suppose as the late 1980’s when I was a teenager.But when I did actually produce visual art,
there was some outlet for some of it, I was never particularly, perhaps because
I was such an isolated person, I wasn’t particularly adept at always dealing
with opportunities or if anything fell through or went wrong and then because
of other things in my personal life, I just tended to abandon that.My present semi, almost or non “career”
began, I suppose, at the end of the 1990’s or the year 2000, when whatever it
was I had ever deluded myself or deceived others that I did, I had long since
Gregory Maass: What do you think of when somebody like me says your
work is more immaterial?Like, meaning
you don’t have…
Corner Station (interrupting): Actual work!?(Laughs)
Gregory Maass (continuing): Any tangible product.Actually, it’s totally wrong to say that. Its like the distinction between software and
Douglas Park and Corner Station (both in unison together):
Douglas Park: Or a service or a product.
Gregory Maass: Whats your opinion, how do you feel about that, is
that a good point, is immateriality interesting to you?
Douglas Park: I don’t think I’m exactly like 1 of these people like
the English Dadaist, Arthur Cravan.Or,
O.K, so the man was quite an important social figure, but in the 18th
Century, 1 of the 1st distinguished freed-slaves, was the
coffee-trader, Ignatius Sancho.Although
his correspondence is almost like letter-writing in the style of Laurence
Sterne, with a lot of found banal language, used in and to very humorous
ends.Or, other people.You know, it’s disputable what they… you
know, “members without portfolio”, like “Bez” in the Happy Mondays.The Vienna author, who was or is also quite
an important mathematics, logic and technology expert, Oswald Wiener, who did
write, if not a novel, a bookwork, presenting philosophical findings, called das verbesserung der mitteleuropa (improvement,
bettering, salvation etc of Central Europe).
Gregory Maass: So what do you think of immateriality?
Douglas Park: Immateriality.The strange things is, I don’t… You know, like, for instance, artworks
that seem to take the form of absence or removal, as though it were something
more present or material.Like that sort
of survey-exhibition of which the book was the real production, in Paris, that
also toured to Switzerland, Voids: A
Retrospective, which was basically a retrospective of all the greatest
voids of all time, like Yves Klein and Martin Creed etc…In neither of the 2 venues was it on for very
long, but the book, of which there’s an English and also a French edition, I
think I… As I jested once was, well, it was a survey of all or different forms
of nothing or different reasons for doing nothing.
Gregory Maass: But no, I don’t think it’s an issue of nothing,
emptiness and void and…
Douglas Park: No.Which is
at most simply an aspect of what I do.
Gregory Maass: You didn’t hear that yet?From Clemens Kruemmel.He said…
Douglas Park: I haven’t got access to what he has written.
Gregory Maass: He very brilliantly said, it’s just that any creation
passes through a moment of immateriality.
Douglas Park: And much that I do does actually exist in the
physical and material world…
Gregory Maass: In the real world…
Douglas Park: And you do also have to consider the…
Gregory Maass: It’s just a wrong issue, actually…
Douglas Park: What I invent, in my prose, in my stories, which for
some years now have become increasingly identical.
Gregory Maass: I mean, nobody would complain to an opera singer,
that her work is immaterial.
Douglas Park: No.I don’t
know why people even actually bother.
Gregory Maass: Yes, exactly.
Douglas Park: Although, then again, the obvious side of my work is
most akin to literature, rather than art
Gregory Maas and Corner Station (both in unison together):
Douglas Park: And I’ve not had much to do with contemporary
literature.I mean, I know people
involved in it.And I did once have a
paid job, as an editorial assistant or assistant editor, for the London Magazine.
Gregory Maass: Should or may I ask you about, because yesterday we
Douglas Park and Gregory Maass (both in unison together):
Ian Hamilton Finlay…
Gregory Maass: And that this person…
Douglas Park: Well, also all these people…
Gregory Maass: “Wars”, were considered by you… nearly as an idol
kind of orientation…
Douglas Park: Well, he had, well, he informed a lot of my visual
work, although I never, myself, I suspect if I ever had anything to do with him,
I’d have been, there’d have been some clash or fall out with him, as there had
been with anybody or thing else he, Ian Hamilton Finlay in any way crossed
paths or swords with.But there is… I
suppose, I think I have said this before, I think I’m the opposite of these
former authors, people of letters or literary authors, who then became more
exposed or successful even, as visual artists.Marcel Broodthærs, Vito Acconci, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Jochen Gerz,
Emmett Williams, Henri Michaux, Jiri Kolar, Jean-Claude Silbermann, etc, etc,
etc.But theres all these common threads
between their earlier work and what they went on to do, one practice very much
informed the other, but just in superficial or real terms seems to have taken a
different form or operated in a different part of culture.
Corner Station: So how do you see your work, because your work or you
performance often relates to texts you wrote and your recital?
Douglas Park: Recital, with or without ad lib or commentary…
Corner Station: So how do see your relationship to contemporary
literature or these kind of earlier 60’s performance artists?
Douglas Park: Again, I am more akin to almost somebody from a
previous time and place, transported into the present day, somewhat anachronistic
or somehow trying to adapt to, survive, make sense of or engage with, you know,
contemporary reality, art, real life, politics, society, whatever.1 difference between myself, and say, a
novelist would be, unless I was writing… I have sometimes written quite lengthy
“meta-literature” about projects, specific projects I’ve been involved with and
aspects of my work, like inside-story behind-the-scenery, with much insight and
lowdown in them.I doubt, for instance,
I’d be able or prepared to write a novel.Even though that’s actually got more to do with publishing, publishers
and editors, than the obvious author.Also, as much by circumstance rather than any choice or decision, but
again, its 1 of these things I’m fully aware of, most of, my, usually the
origination of my work, it’s, then it’s, you know, the development and
finalisation stage of making myself produce it and then the outlet that it
gets, is most of the time invariably connected with, you know, visual art or
instead of visual art.It is very much
Gregory Maass: Its very visual, all your…
Douglas Park: Do you mean what I describe?
Gregory Maass: Yes, yes, yes, yes…
Douglas Park: Almost, “the look” of my work.If you see it published in a book, magazine
Gregory Maass: Even it’s the thematic work, like, O.K, ‘A nigh-on
compulsory cliché’, it’s very visual, and also the more surrealistic texts
also, all of your texts, it’s not like…
Douglas Park: They’re what I could never have done as a visual artist.Which is, I’m almost trying to stretch what
is or isn’t possible in natural and artificial reality, somehow or other
passing it off as though it’s normal or even boring, then there’s this moral
ambiguity.Especially when I’m referring
to things being quite harmful, you know, harm or wrongdoing of any kind,
especially corporate, governmental or interpersonal, there’s this ambiguity,
especially as regards the environment.Just as the places and the processes I’m describing, its this reality
that’s neither natural nor artificial, it’s both familiar but also very
strange, there’s this deliberate moral ambiguity to it, then the phrasing is
very like that.
Gregory Maass: And this is interesting for me, personally.I would like to know more about that.Because, how do you?… me, I get the
impression, through your texts, on the 1 side, you are very humorous
Douglas Park (interrupting): Yes.
Gregory Maass (continuing): On the other side, it’s a very dark
operation.Also, our archival show is
called, Itemized Miasma…
Douglas Park: Dynamic Inventory!That’s my attempt to summarize what I do.
Gregory Maass: The “Miasma” is at the centre!So describe the miasma.Where is this coming from, if you know, in
what way is it interesting to you, how would you describe it if you can?
Douglas Park: Miasma?
Gregory Maass: Or this darker side of your work, the humorous side
Douglas Park: Well, I very much like contrasting… almost as though
you’re simply just dealing with physical materials, imagery, qualities, with
their associations, meanings and physical properties.Playing things off against each other, either
making them contrast or somehow or other, a merge, blend or hybrid of them.And again, the way I try to pass everything
off and make it come across, almost as though I’m sort of
something I’m very keen on, is myself, not as an author or even a discoverer,
this reality just existing anyway, without any culpability or accountability,
nobody or nothing to blame or praise for it, it just exists, which is how most
people accept reality anyway, in a way that just seems to go without
saying.Even if you can, it is not clear
what if anything can be done to change, even just survive or improve personal
or collective circumstances or conditions.
Corner Station: How do you see the authorship in contemporary art
practice?Because you appeared in a lot
of other people’s, other artist’s artworks.Your presence is very strong.Do
you see them as…
Douglas Park: Am I?…
Gregory Maass: Part of your artwork or as like…
Douglas Park: I very much…
Gregory Maass: A collective?
Douglas Park: In a positive, enlightened or utopian way, theres is
this collab… you know, friendsh… you know, some of these people, you know, we
are actually lifelong nodding acquaintances.Some of them, some of them can just about remember who I am.But seriously, you know, the notion of
collaboration, if that’s viewed in a romantic, optimistic or positive way, O.K,
there’s also challenges, same as there are to any and every thing, but also I,
there’s perhaps me in both senses of the word, being marginalized.Which could mean I’m exploited, victimized or
invisible, but I could also be parasitic or exploitative myself, or deliberately
or negligently harmful or damaging, either within that collaborative situation
or some wider reality. Again, it creates an opportunity, excuse or
justification, for myself to maybe just get something done and to get something
to exist in reality, which I am and am not to blame or praise for.I mean, I do originate ideas or even whole
works all the time, I don’t only make work to order, if somebody invites or if
for whatever reason I’ve got myself in involved in something.I’m not sure how I myself would be, doing
something that was only by me or about me and my own work.Which is 1 of the reasons I’m so grateful
towards Gregory, Nayoungim, Kim Kim Gallery and all others involved in Douglasism festival, project,
activities, new works…
Gregory Maass: Let’s talk about Douglasism.The audience doesn’t know where this term is
Corner Station: Yeah, what is Douglasism.
Douglas Park: Well, in 2005, when there was my 33rd
birthday, people involved in this London collective called Decima (mostly Alex
Chappel and David C. West).There was a
party on my 33rd birthday, when Alex Chappel had a gallery above a
pub in Clerkenwell…
Gregory Maass: It was called The Gallery Upstairs.
Douglas Park: And there was this 1-day event, Douglasisms, where phrases I’d often came up with, appeared on a
cartoon based on me, by Piers Wardle (who sometimes called himself, Lewis
Draper), an artist who is no longer with us, having sadly died of a brain
hemorrhage, rather unexpectedly several years ago.That’s an anagram of Lewis Draper, err, Piers
Wardle, not a palindrome, an anagram is symmetrical, like a Rorschach
inkblot.That’s the difference between
Andre Thomkins and Unica Zurn… and… or rather Andre Thomkins and Dom Sylvester
Houedard versus Unica Zurn and Jean Dupuy.But the Douglasisms were based
on things, you know, phrases I’d invented or readymade language that I’ve
appropriated, in speech, communication or writing.And there was, and people were invited to
come up with their own Douglasisms,
by filling in speech bubbles on the cartoons.Decima, is, as I said, Alex Chappel and David C. West.Have, are a venture that’s existed, working
in all manner of mediums, with many people, since the late 1990’s, often
working with the media.And they’ve done
some extremely fun events, shows and projects over the years.But that’s basically the origin of Douglasism.A reference to Douglasisms and Douglas Day,
23rd of January, 2005.
Corner Station: Well, Douglas, what other projects have you done
under the name of Douglasism?
Douglas Park: Well, other… In connection with Kim Kim Gallery,
there have been, although this is my 1st ever visit to Korea, there
have been exhibitions, most notably at the art fair last year, that was last
Douglas Park and Gregory Maass (both in unison together):
Yes, Art: Gwangju: 12.
Douglas Park: Examples of either photographs of me, myself, as well
as collaborating with people on moving image work, acting in other people’s
videos, films and events, copies of publications I had contributed to, ephemera
and other such material and works, by and about myself and other people I’ve
been involved with and worked with in whatever capacity.But, and I believe, as well as through people
who already knew about me, knew me or has worked with me who happened to visit
Art Gwangju or Gwangju Art Fair, were also involved, and also the
biennale.There was a lot of, I
understand, a lot of public and artworld interest in it and me, and there were even
people, I understand, who seriously doubted, questioned and didn’t believe, you
know, they seemed to think that I didn’t exist… Is Douglas Park a real
Gregory Maass: Yes, There were a few people who were thinking it was
a work of artificial persona of Nayoung and me.
Corner Station: How did you meet Nayoung and Gregory?
Douglas Park: We met in 2006, at A.I.R (Artists In Residence), in
Antwerp, in Belgium, when we were all on the same art residency.
Gregory Maass: It’s a very bizarre house, its look like a…
Douglas Park: Yes, an old house, where lockkeepers and a mechanical
bridge would have lived or worked!And
it’s in the harbour.And it’s almost as
though you’re in the middle-of-nowhere, but you’re nextdoor to the centre of
the city, you can see battleships out of the kitchen window, very sort of
dreamlike environment.I’d stayed there
quite a lot before then, such as when they were still rebuilding the place,
then I’ve stayed there and been involved in things since then.Then recently, there was a book published,
that we and all the other ex survivors, casualties and victims of A.I.R
contributed to, called AIR Traces.
Corner Station: When did you 1st stay there?
Douglas Park: A.I.R?I
stayed there for the 1st time when they were still rebuilding the
place in 2001, when I was on another residency in Nantes, in France, which was
through the Art School there.And we
visited Antwerp.I think it was the 1st
I ever properly visited Belgium.2001.And I stayed there, myself
and some other member of the Cycle Post Diplome Internationale, we were hosted
in A.I.R, when they were still rebuilding it.Then I stayed there again several years later, when I was involved in an
exhibition and various linked events at the MuHKA (Museum of Contemporary Art),
Gregory Maass: And then we met again, by accident, in the Hayward
Douglas Park: Mostly online.Well, we… it was on the cards, that was last year.I knew we were going to meet in London, and I
happened to be in London that day, and I knew about this private view of an
artist, I forget, it was a Korean artist, but I can’t remember their name, at
the Hayward.And you tried to get me
into the “Tanks Project” opening, at the Tate Modern, of which I am a friend,
although that wouldn’t allow me to go in.
Gregory Maass: Douglas is infamous, so they didn’t let him in!
Douglas Park: Somebody else, some real creep, just sneaked in,
while we were trying to argue my way in.And there were all these other sort of people, who are fixtures of the
artworld, waiting around outside, for their contacts to turn up.But then you turned up to an event I was
involved with.Not far from where the Douglasisms event took place.In The Betsey Trotwood pub, which hosts a
lot of events and meetings.I was
speaking at Orlando Harrison’s The
Poltroon — A Literary Salon, in the function rooms of the pub.And you filmed me…
Gregory Maass: I photographed you.
Douglas Park: Photographed me, yes. And of course, we met up quite
a few times when you were revisiting London event this year.And I introduced you to some people like Rut
Blees Luxemburg and Keef Winter.Yes.
Corner Station: So, I heard that you’ve been, for Douglasism in Korea, you’ve been
producing a lot of artwork, collaborating with Korean artists, what kind of
Douglas Park: Well, most of that has been so far by contact or
things that are going to happen.
Corner Station: O.K.
Gregory Maass: Actually, that started this morning, you know.
Douglas Park: Oh.Myself
acting in the film.Moving things about
in Gagarin.For A Douglas Park.A Park named
Gregory Maass: Yes.
Corner Station: Who did you collaborate with?
Douglas Park: That’s Oksun Kim.
Corner Station: U Sunok.
Douglas Park: U Sunok.And
her… (asking Gregory Maass): Are they her students, from the university?
Gregory Maass: Yes, yes, yes…
Corner Station: How did you select the Korean artists for the Douglasism this year?
Gregory Maass: It was a very difficult process.Not everybody succeeded.
Corner Station: Yeah.
Douglas Park: Wh-what, sorry, what was the question again?
Corner Station: How did you select the artists, for Douglasism?
Douglas Park: Select?
Corner Station: How did you choose?
Douglas Park: Well, I suppose the people who are in Douglasism are people, I have worked
with, or any, you know, the production and the outlet of my work was linked to
them. So there’ll be like, in terms, of like, an actual exhibition, there’ll be
copies of publications, editions, ephemera, invites, moving image.People that I have worked with or people that
have photographed me in social situations.
Gregory Maass: We choose people, mainly from Kim Kim Gallery, we
choose the right space, we knew the right concept of the show and the right
artist, and we make it fit together, that is our work, we try to concatenate,
to enchain these three factors, and turn it into something creatively good.
Douglas Park (interrupting): Yes.
Gregory Maass (continuing): And we have a certain choice of artists,
and you refer to might refer to very often as “Outsider Art”.But I don’t like… but I don’t like that
Douglas Park: “Outsider Art” usually makes me think of… I think, maybe
more “maverick” is a better word.Because “Outsider Art”, makes think of…
Gregory Maass: (laughing) “Insider”… If somebody was an “outsider”
before… It doesn’t make much sense, so…
Corner Station: What is “Outsider Art”?
Gregory Maass: I don’t know… But sometimes it’s…
Douglas Park: It’s usually used to mean work by people… Even though
a lot of them are quite self-conscious, and obviously there’ll be some
awareness of visual material, high or low visual material.“Outsider Art” is often a word used to
describe art by psychiat… people with mental health problems, people who may or
may not be prophets, mediums, psychics or clairvoyants.It often ties in with some kind of cosmology,
worldview or notions of “visions”.It’s
even beyond what you might call “naïve” art, by people like Henri Rousseau,
Grandma Moses or just self-taught artists.
Gregory Maass (laughing): Grandma Moses.Yes, yes.
Douglas Park: Or professional artists, who almost want to be
“amateurs”, like Kurt Schwitters, David Smith or Billy Childish…
Gregory Maass: But there’s another term which is much more fitting,
Douglas Park: Maverick?
Gregory Maass: Maverick.Or
Douglas Park: Mannerist.Mannerist.
Corner Station: Mannerist.
Gregory Maass: Yes.
Douglas Park: Mannerism, was I thought some specific word to
describe usually more eccentric art from bygone eras, before the “Modern
Age”.Whether it was painting,
literature, illustration, like fantastic art, but there’s still sort of much
rationale or pragmatic production.
Gregory Maass: So, lets enlarge, lets enlarge this mannerism, this
historic, academic term into something more vital, and we could find ourselves
in it somewhere.
Douglas Park: Finding ourselves in mannerism!(All: laugh). Is that or is that not a good
thing?The meaning of that.Does that mean, is that positive or
negative?To find oneself (or one’s
selves) in mannerism.
Gregory Maass: Maybe, maybe not (All: laugh).
Corner Station: You seem to have such a good knowledge in art
Douglas Park: Yes.
Corner Station: How… did you go to art school?Strange question.But how did you study, where did you study, I
mean, where did you get all this…
Douglas Park: It was mostly… I mean, I have studied things, I mean, with
or without taking exams, I have actually studied things properly, although mostly
that was just sort of validation, you know, in the hope of employment or
whatever, rather than learning anything. I suppose from an early age, I had a
tendency to almost involuntarily, almost like some kind of recreational kind of
academic research, rather escapist and nostalgic.An Aesthetic Anesthetic!I had this, I suppose, interest in art
history.Probably because art is a specific
subject or area, that can concern, relate to or include (at least supposedly,
can include), any and everything.Supposedly, a universal and all-encompassing area.
Corner Station: It’s like…
Douglas Park: I suppose that the nearest that I‘ve ever done to any
serious research or findings, that is you know, serious art history, is my
ongoing project or survey, By Accident.Which is trying to identify case-studies and
specimens of works and artists, whereby, O.K, so circumstances can affect the
production of artwork, artworks or events at any time or can even be caused by
or because of artworks or events and producing them.But, you know, physical damage, interpersonal
falling-out, legal or criminal-justice problems, issues with resources… but
supposing the artist at least considered that change to be part of the same
work, maybe changing the work because of it, acting upon it and including in
the work, making other work about it or even if it lead to something completely
new in their, you know, a complete change or redirection in their life or
work.There has previously been 1
incarnation of By Accident, whereby a
very simple, I think, it’s only alphabetical, its not categorical, because I
just really didn’t have the time, version, almost like notes, towards what I’ve
very much improved upon since then.It
was published almost like a fanzine, for an exhibition (of-sorts) presented by
a Belgian collective I very often work with, Sonia Dermience and Komplot, which
was presented at Le Commissariat, a project and event space in Paris.Because myself and Sonia both knew this
French curator who was involved with Le Commissariat at the time, Damien
Gregory Maass: And both will come to Korea.
Douglas Park: And both will be visiting Korea soon, in the very
near future, as part of and in connection with Douglasism.
Gregory Maass: And there will be a remake and reincarnation of By Accident.
Douglas Park: A new and improved version, updated, a new and
improved updated version of the publication, public lectures, and possibly a
show (of-sorts) of some nature, even if it’s simply digital images, or 1 of
these exhibitions where events and publications are some, most or all the
sum-total of the exhibition.But that’s
the sort of thing, that if it was ever done properly, you know, that would take
a very major art museum to produce.
Corner Station: I heard that you were in Jeju Island for a
film-shoot.What kind of film?
Douglas Park: As soon as I’d arrived in Seoul last week, myself and
Cel Crabeels from Belgium, as we already knew we were going to, went out to
Jeju Island.A volcanic, geologically
its volcanic, as a society its very interesting in that it’s a matriarchy, it
is self-governing, and as well as agriculture, the main industry and economy of
Jeju Island is national and international tourism, holidays, vacations and
leisure activities.Cel Crabeels.It was perhaps more Cel Crabeels’ project or
work than mine, but I was acting, perhaps very much a latterday version of
Jacques Tati’s LesVacances de Monsieur Hulot.Doing public readings, for instance, at the
waterfall and on a very rocky beach; autographing photographs of myself; and
there were also photographs taken of me, by the photographer, who lives on Jeju
Island, Oksun Kim.And we…1 thing we intended to do was actually to
film myself standing at the crater of the (I think) dormant volcano, reciting
my work there, but it seemed we couldn’t get permission to do that.Cel Crabeels wanted to use, like, a
smoke-machine.We did manage to find a
gallery overlooking a cliff, just near the shore, not far from both the hotels
we stayed at.Vuecrest Gallery.Who allowed us to use their courtyard, for a
reading of mine, which Cel filmed, also photographs taken by Oksun Kim, who
also photographed me on other occasions.We missed the recent typhoon.I
hope that all is well for anybody on Jeju Island at this time, because I
understand it hasn’t passed.There had
been a recent storm or typhoon, just before myself and Cel arrived there.It did sometimes get very windy and very
wet.But then I understand there’s a
possibility the typhoon might return again.I’m very concerned and anxious for all those who may well be affected or
involved in that.
Corner Station: I heard this is your 1st time to
Douglas Park: I remember, when I was a kid, I had been to 1 or 2 airports,
going to and from somewhere, that’s many decades ago.I have published in China, Japan and
Thailand, and I’m on a website in Pakistan.But any possible visits… For instance, I nearly visited Osaka, in Japan,
in connection, with the Belgian, another Belgian… Many of my serial
collaborative partners-in-crime are Belgian!
Gregory Maass: How does?…
Douglas Park: Vadim Vosters.Invited me to write a trilogy of literary prose, you might say,
“stories”, instead of writing “essays”.But because of, I think, the cost of designing the catalog, meant there
wasn’t the budget for me to visit Osaka, you know, and perform there.But as I said, I was in a survey of British
art, Metropolis Rise, organized by
Tony Gross and Jen Wu.I have known Tony
Gross since the early 1990’s.And I’ve
acted in his… 3 times, he’s STEREOtypecast me as a “Columbo” type personage in
movies that he’s done.And there’ll be
some of them in the Douglasism
festival.Metropolis Rise (survey of British art) toured Beijing and
Shanghai, when I was on the A.I.R residency in Antwerp, as well as this
publication in Japan, a book project about certain issues in Thailand (although
I did not go out there), and I have what I call an almost kinda normal piece of
writing on ArtNowPakistan, about the artist and lawyer, Iqbal Geoffrey, who is
1 of the case-studies in several categories of By Accident.Iqbal
Geoffey.Is… he’s another maverick.
Gregory Maass: Mannerist!
Corner Station: Yes.
Douglas Park: More than worth checking out.As an artist and as a social figure.
Corner Station: So, this is your 1st visit to Korea?
Douglas Park: Yes, 1st time I’ve ever actually been
Corner Station: How do you see the Korean audience?
Douglas Park: I’m still trying to come to terms with Korea, get my
head around it…
Corner Station: What’s your idea of Korea?
Douglas Park: I attempted to familiarize myself with the
customs.And I abandoned trying to
acquire and use the language before I came here.
Gregory Maass: Douglas can write his name in Korean!
Douglas Park: I have to copy it though.But it was somebody your end of things…
Gregory Maass (interrupting): I didn’t see that!…
Douglas Park (continuing): …Who translated my name into Korean
Corner Station: So whats your expectation from Douglasism exhibition in Korea?
Douglas Park: I suppose, at the moment, a somber, giant, hovering,
very ominous question mark.Not
necessarily rightly or wrongly optimistic.
Gregory Maass (interrupting): What colour, what colour?
Douglas Park (continuing): Not threatening…
Gregory Maass: Black?
Douglas Park: Well, it’s not necessarily a specific colour.Somber.That’s a sort of tone, quality or condition of colour, material or
Gregory Maass: Sickly green question mark…
Douglas Park: Maybe a non-colour, not necessarily a disagreeable or
nasty colour.It’s not necessarily
threatening or dangerous, just as its not necessarily optimistic or
promising.It’s all, everything’s very
Gregory Maass (interrupting): I’m taking care of the answers to
Douglas Park: It’s extremely difficult for me to even say what has
come to me so far, about visiting Korea or what I have tried to, before, you
know, in the, over the time leading up to my visit and stay here, at least
trying to familiarize myself with the earlier history, the present situation
and the possible future of Korea.
Gregory Maass: There will be more than 14 events and activities with
Douglas Park: It’s very overwhelming.It’s all so very complex and very
overwhelming for me, just for myself,never mind if I even attempt, try or strive to say something about
Gregory Maass: I only know the number.There will be 7 different shows or
venues.At least 14 activities.Counting this activity as 1 of them.
Douglas Park: Yes.
Corner Station: Is that part of your concept to have this many of
series of events and exhibitions?
Gregory Maass: Actually, it’s not his concept.Its like the concept we made him…
Douglas Park (interrupting): it’s Kim Kim’s!
Gregory Maass (continuing): So we didn’t give him a choice.It’s more like we presented him with the
outcome of our doings…
Corner Station: Yeah, so whats the concept and theme?
Douglas Park: I am almost the subject matter or the fodder for this
Gregory Maass: But the theme is, we want, Douglas worked with so
many people, he collaborated with so many people, over so many different
subjects, and he has also his own solo-career, whatever that is.
Douglas Park (interrupting): Yes.
Gregory Maass (continuing): His individual work.
Myself either constantly disappearing into things or being just another
Gregory Maass (interrupting): So we want to bring all this
Douglas Park (continuing): …or cog-in-the-wheel, or myself almost
taking things over, which is mostly what my input or presence in things is.
Gregory Maass: But you can’t bring everything together.
Douglas Park: It’s impossible.
Gregory Maass: It’s impossible.But this will be just another collaboration, a bigger one, in the end,
but maybe it will clarify, it will give a better perspective, on the, all over
perspective on the work.
Corner Station: What’s the earliest work you’ll be showing in the
show in the festival?
Douglas Park: The earliest thing by me?
Gregory Maass: I think it’s the cartoon movie we discovered
Douglas Park: A cartoon movie?
Gregory Maass: Yes.With all
Corner Station (interrupting): When was it made?
Gregory Maass: A cartoon of you.And there’s a speech bubble…
Douglas Park: A movie?
Gregory Maass: Yeah, it’s a short movie.And it’s maybe Lewis Draper who made it.We’re not sure yet.
Douglas Park: Was this from Decima?That would be 2005.That’s not
Gregory Maass: A movie, that’s our, I think…
Douglas Park: That’s 2005.
Gregory Maass: Not so long.So
what’s the earliest we have?
Douglas Park: The earliest, do you mean in terms of actual outlet
of work?Because especially, when say in
the quartet of, I suppose stories I have in The
Bastard / MagneticSpeech number
of Dr Clementine Deliss’ Metronome,
2001.Those are basically unfinished
business, leftover from my previous visual art days.Either visual versions, sorry, written,
lingual, literary or prosaic versions of artwork I had done, designed,
attempted or made or things I wasn’t able to find form for or wasn’t really
able to get of the ground.
Corner Station: What were your visual art days like, when was
Douglas Park: Mostly self-educated.I operated independently.I mean,
people did know about me.There were
some outlets.I had a tendency to
abandon things.There were much, there
were, my, although there’s some crossover and connection.Sometimes even titles of my works are slogans
or names I had invented as a visual artist, like ‘Dream-Key Zodiac / Pandora’s
Ark’ or ‘E.S.P-ionage’ — which is like a cross-between extra sensory perception
or psychic powers and espionage or spying.They were much more deadpan, excuses to use language, whether it was
things I had authored myself, found language, modified language, quotes.Well, it was excuses to make art.Even though I had no idea how to work with
opportunities.I tended often just to
run away from them or abandon them if things fell through or went wrong.Also, there were other factors in my life at
the time.Although what I do now is far
more flexible, I find myself far more prolific, not just exposed and
known-about.It’s not always valid to
say something is easy or beneficial, but it’s certainly possible, however sometimes
difficult, challenging or problematic, for me to get things done or for
opportunities to arise.
Gregory Maass (interrupting): This is a very…
Douglas Park (continuing): And I’d always written anyway, with or
without any outlet for it, whether it was relatively conventional essays,
literary prose or written art, there is a lot of regurgitation and recycling in
Gregory Maass: A propos recycling.Can you recycle something for us, what kind of text will you read to
Douglas Park: It won’t actually be, you know, a typical
Douglasparkworld landscape, meteorological weather, architecture, force-field,
miracle or disaster.But very almost
sort of identical formula or policy of how imagery is conjured up, then
described and presented, then the use of words, language and phrasing.It’s a much more corporal and bodily
text.I haven’t invented a strange title
for it, its got a readymade phrase for a title, ‘Human Shield’.Previous outlet it’s had was in connection
with Richard Crow, a veteran performance, sound, and installation artist.
Gregory Maass: Yes, Institution of Rot.
Douglas Park: Institution of Rot.Which relates to, that’s the name of the private performance club, in a
house he lived in from the early 1980’s, until he lost the place very recently,
and there’s now ongoing events and sometimes publications, by people who were
involved in that or he knew since then.‘A Demised Premise’.Real or
supposed archival material about the Institution of Rot.But ‘Human Shield’, the outlet for that was
another concern of his called ‘Hospital Radio’ or ‘(Towards an) Imaginary
Hospital Radio’, for which there’s a track and an artist’s page by myself and
Richard Crow, in a c.d album and a book,SOUNDWORKS: For Those Who Have
Ears, produced by Julie Forrester, Niamh Lawlor, Danny McCarthy & Harry
Moore, Art Trail, County Cork, Republic of Ireland, 2005.For the original recording on that album,
Crow gave me a contact mike, to press onto my throat, when I recited ‘Human
Shield’, generating a very disturbing quality, almost like a suppressed
archival recording to the end-result.And I use contact mikes in that way, sometimes when myself and Crow have
performed together, myself reciting ‘Human Shield’, and also usually medical
related found texts that Crow has chosen, while Crow, Richard Crow generates
sort of industrial or noise son-et-lumiere music, noise and light-show.Anyway, as for literary prose and written art
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Douglas Park: That also came to mind, because of the connotations of
plastic surgery or maxiofacial medicine of these very premises we are in at the
Corner Station (laughing): Yeah, we are recording this interview in
a plastic surgery.Under the plastic
Gregory Maass (laughing): In the operation theatre!
Douglas Park: I have actually, you could say, the longest writing
I’ve ever done, was assisting somebody with their memoirs; advice, proofreading
and sometimes other input, although it was very much their own work.The Ugandan maxiofacial surgeon, man of many
parts and some might say, hero, Dr. Arnold Spero Bisase.His memoirs very much recount his, his family
and his community’s lives.Born, around
the time, I think, World War 2 started, then growing up with late colonial era
and then independence Africa.He was
schooled in Egypt, but just at the time in the 50’s when the revolution
exploded.And he and others…
Corner Station: What’s his nationality?
Douglas Park: He’s Ugandan.He’s from either the Buganda or Luganda region or the Luganda or Buganda
tribe.I keep getting them mixed
up.He studied in the United
Kingdom.Before he finally came over in
the late 1970’s, he had already visited, worked and studied in the U.K and
elsewhere several times.And he’s best
known for, as well as others things he did, literally saving the face of a girl
who was savaged by a wild hyena, and she’s now, if she’s still alive and still
working, a very distinguished nurse, in Australia.
Corner Station (whispering softly): O.K.
Douglas Park: But Dr. Arnold Spero Bisase lives, I think, in
Southall, which is a part of a suburb of West London, mostly inhabited by Indo-Asians.But as well as, sort of the lighter moments,
as well as the sort of his memoirs are called Guardian Angel, some of the references to, you know, the outcomes
of despots, tyrants and unrest in Uganda.Such as, 1st, the rather slimy and pathetic Apollo Milton
Obote (who actually got back into power), and then the rather retarded and
ludicrous seeming, but harmful and dangerous Idi Amin.It was quite an experience and an
undertaking, being involved with that job.And I forget the name of the publisher, I haven’t got it with me in
Korea, but I’ve only got 1 copy, of double volume memoirs, Guardian Angel, by Dr. Arnold Spero Bisase.It is some Indian publisher that actually
published it.And please forgive me, I
cannot remember the name of the publisher, but that is perhaps the most lengthy
writing I’ve ever done, but it was very much supportive towards someone else,
and myself not wishing to tread on their feet, out of my respect and reverence
Corner Station (whispering softly again): O.K.
Gregory Maass: Thank you very much.
Corner Station: So are there any more questions?
Douglas Park: Questions WE would like to ask?
Corner Station: Or, yeah, shall we…
Gregory Maass (completing suggestion): Wrap it up?
Corner Station (agreeing): Wrap it up.
Douglas Park: Well, I remember nobody seems to know the origins or
meanings in Korean of the family surname, Park.
Gregory Maass: We will find that out for you.
Corner Station: Yeah, after this interview.There’s like a…
Douglas Park: Is it a word in Korean, Park?
Corner Station: Ah.As far as
I remember, there’s like an…
Douglas Park: Because place and family names are often nothing like
Corner Station: In the 5th century B.C, there was this,
Korea was divided by 3 country-kingdoms, and 1 of the kingdoms, the king of 1
of these kingdoms, was named after Park, Park… I think so, and that’s the word
Douglas Park: It can be a forename, as well as a family
Corner Station: No.It’s the
family name of 1 of the kings from the 5th century.
Douglas Park: And at 1 time a third of Korea was…
Corner Station: Divided by 3…
Douglas Park: Was Park, it was all Parkland.
Douglas Park: What about the United Kingdom…
Corner Station: You should’ve had that exhibition!
Douglas Park: Douglasparkworld!
Corner Station: Yeah, thank you for coming.
Douglas Park: Thank you very much for inviting me.
Corner Station: We’ll send you the…
Douglas Park: And I have to thank Gregory and Nayoungim and Kim Kim
and many countless others without which none of this would’ve been possible,
you know, for making all this happen.