To say that the pool of reference that Obrist draws from is vast, is a broad understatement. Yet where some might claim sole authorship of their projects, he repeatedly identifies and names those who have inspired, challenged or changed his thinking. He references his early alignment with artists that, like him, have gone on to establish meaningful and long careers such as Christian Boltanski, Hans-Peter Feldmann, and perhaps most importantly Fischli and Weiss. In our newly released interview with the curator, he said 'I was born twice, once in Zug in '68, and then I was born again in '85 at Fischli & Weiss' studio.' This encounter is widely documented. The pair were creating their now seminal piece The Way Things Go and their advice seems to have helped Obrist define his purpose, 'To be useful to art.' It also marked the moment that saw him begin to take night trains across Europe to museums, galleries and artist studios that would feed his relentless curiosity and begin his chosen path.
His projects take many forms, from the Nano Museum that was a portable frame to be filled with art that was eventually lost by Douglas Gordon in a pub in Glasgow, to the endless recordings of multiple conversations - including the centenary project where Rosemarie Trockel encouraged him to speak with artists approaching or exceeding 100 years of age or the instructive exhibitions Do It that are have been staged in more than 120 countries. And that's not to say he hasn't curated solo and group shows too, it just usually means that they find new ways to create a monograph or meanings, new formats that enable the artist and activate the artwork.
The projects themselves are fascinating, but it's the trains of thought, the encounters and the journeys that lead to their realisation that is the real illumination. Obrist reveals these in a fast paced, encyclopaedic rendition of his life in this interview. Watch it now on SHOWstudio.