16

– Autumn/Winter 2007

Christopher Williams in Conversation

Mark Godfrey, Christopher Williams

Christopher Williams, Afri-Cola (Ashtray), Manufacturer: E. & A. Bockling, 6956 Neudenau, Germany, Date of Production 1980- 1989. Douglas M. Parker Studio, Los Angeles, California. November 26, 2005 (Nr. 1 & 2), 2006, one from a diptych, c-print, each 50.

Christopher Williams, Afri-Cola (Ashtray), Manufacturer: E. & A. Bockling, 6956 Neudenau, Germany, Date of Production 1980- 1989. Douglas M. Parker Studio, Los Angeles, California. November 26, 2005 (Nr. 1 & 2), 2006, one from a diptych, c-print, each 50.

Mark Godfrey: Where does the title of your series For Example: Dix-Huit Leçons Sur La Société Industrielle (2002-ongoing) come from, and why did you choose it?1

Christopher Williams: Dix-huit leçons sur la société industrielle is a book by Raymond Aron published in 1963. It is a classic of sociology and economics about the Cold War period. It concerns Soviet Russia, the United States and China to some degree, and its about oil and potatoes and corn. Its a very basic description of the economic structure of the Cold War. I picked up the book because I saw the cover represented in Jean-Luc Godard's Two or Three Things I Know about Her (1966). Id been told the film was somewhat based on the book, so I went out and bought it and decided that Id use it as a starting place for my new project. The word leçons (lectures) was attractive to me because Ive heard people call my work didactic and I wanted to tackle that criticism head-on. By placing it in my title I raise the question: What lesson am I putting forward? What have I taught you? What am I being didactic about? Of course there is no lesson in any conventional sense. At one point I was thinking about calling the work Industrial Poems after Marcel Broodthaers's work of the same name, which would have been more in keeping with the way that I think about the work, but I thought Dix-Huit Leçons... would raise more questions about my intentions. Aron's title also included the reference to industrial society, which fit within the Cold War programme that

Footnotes
  1. The interview took place in Basel on 12 June 2007.

  2. Roberto Rossellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Ugo Gregoretti, RoGoPaG, 1963.

  3. Comedy television series created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry that ran from 1965 to 1970 and satirised the secret agent genre. Mission: Impossible originally ran from 1966 to 1973.

  4. Alexander Dovzhenko, Arsenal, 1929.

  5. See Walter Benjamin, 'Little History of Photography', Selected Writings Vol.2, 1927-1934, London and Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999.

  6. 'An important point: she must not be an actress. It matters little whether she is fair or dark. The most important is the reserved appearance, due to a good education...' Tati quoted in David Bellos, Jaqcues Tati: His Life and Art, London: Harvill Press, 1999, p.265.

  7. 'For Example: Dix-Huit Leçons sur la Société Industrielle (Revision 5)', 26 January-4 March 2007, Museo d'Arte Moderna di Bologna.