Interview with Albert Heta
Abstract and Proposal
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This article addresses the issue of creating art which engages with an audience in a post-conflict climate. This concept is discussed in relation to the political climate and emerging contemporary art scene in Kosovo, where a small group of artists are pioneering contemporary art to be recognized internationally. The article poses the question; is it possible to engage an audience within Kosovo without tailoring an artwork's concept to sympathize with the political stance of such an audience? It then leads us to question whether such a piece of art is relevant in an international context. The main aim of this article is to explore these concerns through an interview with Kosovar Albanian artist, Albert Heta. Albert Heta represents the most active part of the emerging contemporary art scene in Kosovo and works with public installation and media work which interrupts the way his audience experiences political and social realities. Heta discusses his experience as a Kosovar Albanian practicing artist working both within Kosovo and also internationally through schemes such as the Artist Residency scheme at the Santa Fe Art Institute, which Heta attended during the summer of 2005.
According to its website, 'Modern Painters is a high-production colour glossy dedicated to ideas about art with broad appeal, devoid of artspeak and not necessarily written by art critics.' 1
The publication seems to aim to remove itself from the inaccessible reputation of some journals while maintaining serious discussion of international arts and culture. Although the main area of interest in Modern Painters is 'fine art', the publication also covers areas of other arts, for example, in the November issue of 2005, a column has been contributed about Rod Stewart. 2 In the 2005 summer issue of Modern Painters, Deputy Editor, Vince Aletti wrote a column on fashion photography. 3
There doesn't seem to be a theme between articles in each issue, however, there is a set format which applies to all issues regarding the style and content of articles published. There are five types of articles: 'Departments' are columns, including 'Editor's Letter', 'Diary', 'Interview' , 'Film', Architecture' etc. 'Views' are insights into art scenes on a geographical basis. Emerging Artists and Features are self- explanatory, and Briefings comprises reviews, book reviews, calendar events etc.
The publication seems to have a hierarchy system within its writers, which determines the function and style of articles. The function of Jerry Saltz's article 'Ups and Downs: The Good, the Bad and the Very Bad' 4 is to inform the audience of his personal opinions of a group of artists exhibiting in New York. 'A number of artists needed to make changes and did; some should have but didn't; several need to think about changing profession.' 5 'I'm not a fan of Candice Breitz or Lara Schnitger...' 6 It's safe to assume that the reason Saltz is allowed to write such an opinionated column is because of his clout as an art critic.
Perhaps more significant to the proposed article is that this hierarchy seems to apply to interview articles also. Unless the interviewer has a parallel status or authority in the art world, the emphasis of the article should be on the responses of the interviewee, not on the opinions or questions of the interviewer. The proposed article will contain an interview with Kosovar Albanian artist, Albert Heta. Its format will be determined by the authority of the writer, so rather than being conducted as a conversation, it should be written as a question- answer interview. One way to maintain a conversational interview in keeping with the Modern Painters style, however, would be to conduct the interview then to report it in prose rather than as a transcript.
Deputy Editor, Mark Rappolt's interview with John Maeda is approximately 2500 words, and opens with a 200 word introduction to the artist. The interview focuses on Maeda's upcoming exhibition. Rappolt does express some opinion but the function of the text is clearly to allow the audience an insight into the artist's idiom and as such, a large majority of the text in the article is Maeda's. He discusses his methods of working, and his aims and Rappolt poses questions from an audience perspective, 'Some of the works in the upcoming show don't run very smoothly', 'So what do you hope people will get out of your new work when they see it?' 7
There is obviously a preordained structure to the interview, in contrast to a conversation between Isa Genzken and Wolfgang Tillmans which appears in Artforum. 8 This 'interview', in contrast, seems to ramble through whatever crosses each artist's mind. It opens, 'Isa Genzken: I can give you a little tour of my studio. This is a piece for which I finally found a title today ...' 9
Modern Painters is particularly concerned with International culture. This is exemplified by a number of articles, including 'Tehran Unveiled: Can Iranian Artists depict the real Iran?' 10 and 'Addis Ababa: Social Realism: Ethiopia's Emerging Contemporary Art Scene' .
Albert Heta is part of a new generation of artists in Kosovo, and as such, an interview with him as part of a feature on contemporary art and audience in Kosovo will fit well in Modern Painters. It matches the publication's interest in emerging international art scenes with particular political interest.
In contrast, the article would not be as suited to Art Monthly publication as it will focus on the issues surrounding engaging an audience where contemporary art is emerging, without any contextualisation within the British art scene, which Art Monthly would require.
Modern Painters is the type of publication which is read by practising artists. It is also accessible to those who have a general interest in the arts but not necessarily in heavy theory. It is not assumed that the readership has specialized knowledge in the arts as is demonstrated. 'Art Spiegelman, creator of Maus, who dared to put the story of his father's survival in the Nazi camps into a comic strip.' In another journal, for example, Artforum, it might not be considered necessary to describe Spiegelman's most well known work.
In coherence with its target audience, the writing style of Modern Painters is journalistic, with formal but accessible vocabulary. As is the case with many current art journals, each article and writer is different in style within the parameters of the journal. To break up the text, articles often have descriptive and light-hearted respites, 'As you stroll around town you get the distinct impression that the video-poker machines outnumber the phoneboxes' 13 , 'Alongside Kulik, the collective are arguably the Russian artworld's most famous shock jocks.'
It was not possible to obtain a style sheet from the publication but observations have been made. English spelling conventions apply to Modern Painters, Italics are used for titles of artworks, and full stops are not used in acronyms, for example, VIP. When writing dates, apostrophes are not used either, for example, 80s, 1960s. Paragraphs are marked with a new line, the first of which is indented. Matthew Collings' article, 'Onward Christian Surrealists' 14 uses subheadings, but this is not a necessary format for articles. Where present, subheadings are capitalised. Single quotation marks are used for shorter quotations, where as longer quotes are set apart from the text in an indented block.
Concerning interviews, the full name of each speaker is written on their first contribution to the conversation, subsequent speech is identified by each speaker's initials and at the editing stage, the interviewer's speech is emboldened. Quotation marks are not used in interviews. It is also customary to write a short introduction about the person being interviewed.
Modern Painters, on the whole, requires contributing writers to include their referenced within the main body of text, 'Regular Modern Painters contributor Morgan Falconer has written about "a spirit of absence here, a ghostly echo of all the abandoned empty space that surrounds us every day"' 15 . Such references are often enclosed within parentheses or hyphens to minimize interruption with the flow of the text for example, " the large amounts of cash that seem to be sloshing around parts of it (Moscow famously boasts more billionaires -23- than any other city)." 16 Longer references and notes tend not to be included in articles within the publication.
The main area of interest in Modern Painters being international culture makes the publication ideal for the proposed article on Kosovar contemporary art. The proposed article fits its tendency towards lesser known subjects, particularly in the 'View From' section of the publication, as there is very little published material on Kosovo with regard to contemporary art.
1 < http://www.modernpainters.co.uk > [November 2005]
2 Sam Jacob, 'Tonight's the Night: Rod Stewart at Blenheim Palace', Modern Painters, November (2005)
3 Vince Aletti, 'Erotic Wonderland: Fashion Photography and the Seduction of the Brand', Modern Painters, July/August (2005)
4 Jerry Saltz, 'Ups and Downs: The Good, the Bad and the Very Bad', Modern Painters, November (2005)
5 Jerry Saltz
6 Jerry Saltz
7 Mark Rappolt, 'Being Digital, John Maeda on Computers, Collectors, and Commerce', Modern Painters, November (2005)
8 Isa Genzken and Wolfgang Tillmans, 'In Conversation: Who Do You Love?', Artforum, November (2005)
9 Isa Genzken
10 Deborah Campbell, 'Tehran Unveiled: Can Iranian Artists Depict the Real Iran?', Modern Painters, October (2005)
11 Daphne Warburg Astor, 'Addis Ababa: Social Realism: Ethiopia's Emerging Contemporary Art Scene', Modern Painters, July/August (2005)
12 David D'Arcy, 'From the Garbage Can to the Gallery: Art Spiegelman Introduces the Bold Masters of Comic Strips', Modern Painters, November (2005)
13 Mark Rappolt, 'The Russians are Coming: Aren't They?', Modern Painters, November (2005)
14 Matthew Collings, 'Onward Christian Surrealists: I Know Jesus Loves me and I must Ape Robert Smithson's Mannerisms', Modern Painters, November (2005)
15 Karen Wright, 'Karen Wright on Product Placement, Memory and Change', Modern Painters, November (2005)