Time is Your Greatest Asset
"I really loved making art when there was no logical reason to do it."
Meet British artist Ryan Gander in a personal, thoughtful, and fascinating portrait of his life, work, and thinking. Read more …
“The only real place in society where you can do things that defy expectation, break boundaries, contradicts status quo, is progressive, experimental, ‘might not work’ is in art.”
“People think to be an artist you have to be really skilful. You have to train hard, you have to practice, the repetition of doing the same thing again and again. That’s bullshit. That’s not art. It has nothing to do with art. Art, by its very definition, is about defying expectation and making people see difference.”
Ryan Gander here tells how spending time in the hospital early in life trained and sharpened his imagination “like a muscle”. He also talks about early artistic experiences experimenting and “doing all those things that made no sense”.
“I really loved making art when there was no logical reason to do it. It was an absurd lifestyle.”
Today, Gander is one of the most successful British contemporary artists, who, according to himself, never has a creative block and always has more ideas than can be realized:
“People always say: You have so many ideas. I don’t have any more ideas than anybody else in the world. It’s just that I write them all down and stick them on the wall.” But then the question arises: “So which one is the most urgent idea? Which one is the one you want to leave in the world for the people?”
To Gander, time is a central category – both in his personal life and also in society as a whole. He admits that “art is for the privileged.”
“It’s not about the privilege of money. It’s about the privilege of time. To enjoy art, you need spare time. And spare time is the greatest privilege. To have spare time, you also need spare money.”
Finally, Gander reflects upon the age we are living in and is sceptical about the ever-narrowing space for concentration and reflection due to our dependency on omnipresent technologies:
“I think that maybe distraction is a real killer of creativity. I don’t think we have control of our own agency anymore. We have this addiction problem where we become passive and end up with apathy to our attention. One of the most valuable things is our attention and what we spend our attention on.“
“So, I think we measure the world in things, in stuff, in numbers – time is numbers, money is numbers, development is numbers, progress is numbers. But we should understand the world in moments. In stories. In intangible, ephemeral, non-physical things. You don’t take any of this stuff with you: Your airfrier, your smoothie-maker, your Picasso Citroën. They don’t go with you. That’s for sure.”
Ryan Gander was born in 1976 in Chester, northwest England. He has established an international reputation through artworks that materialize in many forms – from sculpture to film, writing, graphic design, installation, performance, and more. Through associative thought processes that connect the everyday and the esoteric, the overlooked and the commonplace, Gander’s work involves a questioning of language and knowledge, as well as a reinvention of both the modes of appearance and the creation of an artwork. His work can be reminiscent of a puzzle or a network with multiple connections and the fragments of an embedded story. It is ultimately a huge set of hidden clues to be deciphered, encouraging viewers to make their associations and invent their narrative to unravel the complexities staged by the artist.
Gander studied at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam, NL and the Jan van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht, NL. Gander has been a Professor of Visual Art at the University of Huddersfield and holds an honorary Doctor of the Arts at the Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Suffolk. In 2017, he was awarded an OBE for services to contemporary art. In 2019, he was awarded the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. In 2022, he was made RA for the category of Sculpture. As well as curating exhibitions, he is a committed educator, having taught at international art institutions and universities. He has written and edited a variety of books and presented television programs on and about contemporary art and culture for the BBC.
Major projects and commissions include Kunsthalle Bern, CH; Pinault Collection, Bourse de Commerce, Paris; Space K, Seoul; Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; Café Aubette, Strasbourg; Musée d‘art Contemporain de Montréal; Aspen Art Museum; Liverpool Biennial; Sydney Biennale; Performa, NY; High Line, NY; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel; Locked Room Scenario, commissioned by Artangel, London; 54th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale; Intervals at The Guggenheim Museum, NY; Public Art Fund, NY.
Ryan Gander was interviewed by Malte Fals in June 2023. The conversation took place in Ryan Gander’s studio in Woodbridge, Suffolk, United Kingdom.
Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Edited by: Malte Fals
Produced by: Malte Fals and Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2023
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet and C.L. Davids Fond og Samling.
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