Spencer Anthony interviewed by Ryan Gander.
Ryan Gander: It sounds embarrassing but I’ve been a massive fan of your work since I first saw a show by you in Sittard when I was a student in Amsterdam, it was a long time ago but I remember it really well. The main piece was three terracotta decorative fireplaces… The work you are making now looks like a different person could have made it, can you tell me about that?
Spencer Anthony: That would be the currency of form then! You probably think you can tell if a female or a male artist has made a work by just seeing it also? Am I right?
RG: I don't know, I’ve not really thought…
SA: …We don't make work like that, we make work with the infinite vocabulary we have learnt, we are fluent… so why would anyone speculate they could unravel something about a person’s real being from their constructs? The only artists that make work that aren’t constructs are bad ones. I’m not interested in truth, I am not a documentary photographer, I am a liar, I can be whoever I want to be.
RG: I see, so do you mean that you are a different person to who you were when I saw your Sittard show when I was a student?
SA: No… I mean I have the ability to convince you that I am a different person.
RG: You sent David Risley and I some images of works for the exhibition a few months back being assembled in your studio in Falmouth, and when we saw the images a few people who were standing around in the gallery, who saw the email, said the work looked very ‘current’. I hadn’t thought about this before, but the work is kind of ‘now’. Can you talk a bit about that?
SA: You mean current as in ‘of its time’, not as in flow - or curren-cy, in terms of its movement through economic systems? I think you are alluding to the post-net-thingy. I don’t have the Internet, so I don't know…
RG: Really? You don't have the Internet at all?
SA: No, what would a man like me, a man of my age, do with the Internet? I mean I’ve used it, but I don't actually have it. I have to go to Falmouth library and it’s closed Wednesday, Friday, Sunday as well as Saturday afternoon, so it is limited.
RG: Sorry I interrupted; you were talking about the ‘current’ aesthetic?
SA: No you were actually the one talking about the ‘current’ aesthetic… I was just going to say, as I said earlier, just because it looks like it is, doesn't mean it is, but I know what art by young people looks like at the moment. I am aware of that. But these are just names. When I lived in Mexico City in the 70’s and worked next door to El Eco the guys from there called me a Concrete Poet, and when I lived in Brussels in the late 80’s the Walloons called me ‘British Sculptor’. The problem with names is it leaves you nowhere to go… What am I to you and Risley, and his runners and go-fers? A Post Industrial, Post Corporate Modernist Plastic Poet… without the Internet…? The work looks like it is made now, because it is made now and I decided to make it look of it’s time, that's what we spend our lives preparing for Ryan, to become very good at pretending…
Extract from a conversation between Spencer Anthony and Ryan Gander, Falmouth, 29th June, 2015.
Born 1946, Saint Leven, UK
Spencer Anthony is a celebrated British playwright and theatre practitioner, as well as an occasional artist. His plays and productions have graced theatres across Europe and the Asia Pacific region for a number of decades. Having travelled the world and been heavily influential in the formation of the Blue Conceptualist art movement centred in Brussels during the mid 1970’s, Spencer now lives and works in Falmouth, UK less than 30 miles from where he was born.
Falmouth School of Art, 1972 – 1975
RADA, Kings College, (Lecturer) 1976 – 1981
RADA, Kings College, (Professor) 1981 – 1996
2015 The Canter of Edward de Bono, David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark
1972 The Accumulative Monological Device, Fishbach Gallery, New York, US
2015 Looking for Hammershøi, David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark
2014 A Story of Presence, Bibliothèque de la Banque nationale, Brussels, Belgium
2004 Socha a Objekt ix, Gallerii Q, Bratislava, Slovakia
1996 British Art of the 70's and 80's, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland
1992 Nous sommes arrivés (We have arrived), Bozar Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels, Belguim
1987 Revelation for the Feet, Mead Gallery, University of Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, UK
1987 Revelation for the Feet, Leeds City Art Gallery, Leeds, UK
1984 Murs noire pour chambre blancs, Maison de la Communication, Saint-Etienne, France
1982 Niebieskie Konceptualiści, Galeria SK, Łódź, Poland
1980 Exposition internationale des Arts solides, Musée d'art moderne de Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
1976 Du Végétal et de l’Animal, Atelier 430, Brussels, Belgium
1973 Troisième Biennale Internationale, Office Central des Expositions Artistiques, Warsaw, Poland
1973 L'image de Pie, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium