Latham, John, 1921-2006. (17 of 18). National Life Story Collection: Artists' Lives
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1998-03-26 and 1998-04-06 and 1999-02-19 and 2000-07-18
Interviewer's home, London, United Kingdom
Latham, John, 1921-2006 (speaker, male)
Steveni, Barbara, 1928- (speaker, female), Roberts, Melanie (speaker, female)
Part 17. (18th July 2000) The interview continues the debate on John Latham (JL) and BS's differing historical perspectives. Commenting on accusations about her own lack of political knowledge, BS describes her vision of a more productive way of being political than, for example, being actively anti-art (cf. Gustav Metzger). Through acting as an artist in a questioning relationship with commercial and governmental institutions, she felt that it was possible to create waves into a global arena. BS refers again to instinct driving her activities, talking about seeing beyond preserved exteriors to a 'making cauldron'. She describes the problems of other artists' having misunderstood the opportunity APG offered as a chance to get some free materials from companies. John Latham's theoretical ideas are put into her perspective where they are seen as something that came into view much later. BS talks of the need for a major lecture on APG commenting on the fact that their activities are not known at the Courtauld for example, and are not known or understood by much younger artists who are unwittingly treading some of the same territory. Barbara Steveni suggests that the importance of her negotiating skills, together with JL's matching theoretical/academic stance, has enabled them to resist much critical misinterpretation. JL is appreciative of people who have recognised this team aspect, adding how important BS has been in supporting his making work as well as his ideas based work (which are related). He also voices his unhappiness at this work being mis-categorised into Pop and Assemblage, explaining his motives for the book based pieces. JL describes feeling depressed that people fail to pick up the philosophical, historical and scientific projections in his work. Problems of history and conceptualism are discussed which leads to BS reiterating her wish not to be cast as a support to the 'great artist' but as an equal partner in their joint history. This leads to a discussion of Barney Drabble, a Goldsmith's MA (curating) student who is archiving their work prior to it going to the Tate Archive. They and he both wish their archive to go 'live' as it enters the institution, hopefully through a recreation of the art and economics exhibition of the 'seventies. BS suggests that this recording has acted as a useful marker for this other archival process.