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My generation, towards the end of the ’60s, was very much affected by political events.
It was the heat of the Vietnam War. Almost every family knew somebody who was on his way to Vietnam. But also racial conflicts that were played out in the street. The student uprising in Paris which then had spillover effects in New York and also at Berkeley. It was a very agitated time.
I was invited to give a talk about my work. And I had to preface it and say, “Well, these works and what I’m involved in, unfortunately does not take into account what happened the other day — namely, the assassination of Martin Luther King.” And, uh, that was, uh, a shocking realization. And I thought in order to settle my own relations to the world, I have to take into account within my work the social and the political world.
I thought one way to break down the barrier between what is presumed to be, this secluded and holy sphere of what we call art from the rest of the world — which is dirty politics — is to bring that other world into the holy place.
And one way to do that, uh, I thought, was to bring the news of the day as it comes off the wire into the gallery. I had a teletype machine that was hooked to the newswire of one news agency. And the paper accumulated on the floor. In the beginning I was hanging it up; but later on I just let it pile up. It’s the big news of the day and of the week, of the months, and so forth just as it accumulates.
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