Homa Taj In Conversation with American artist Robert Walden

Robert Walden (b. 1968)
Lives in: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Website: Robert J Walden

Please also see my Conversation with Robert Walden, Cartographic Utopias…

Artist’s statement –
Ontology is a central theme throughout my work because it deals with the nature of existence or being by analyzing concepts about essence, substance, time, location, space, and identity. My work addresses these ideas by building upon physical, temporal, and literal metaphors that are often used to convey ideas about a process as well as a product. For instance, each drawing is not only a finished work that represents a place, but it is also a reflection of the hand of the artist, the act of making lines. Each of these drawings involves a labor-intensive process where much time is needed for construction and development. Once the drawing is complete, it is a picture of time. That is, each drawing reveals the time it takes to make a road map and then each finished drawing actually represents that time. All along, there is a literal play on mapping. Each drawing represents a process (of mapmaking, of creating roads) and a place (a representation of existence that can be either real or imagined).

Favourite movies –
A Day at the Races, Harold and Maude, Another Country, The Bank Dick

Favourite books –
The Conscience of the Eye: The Design and Social Life of Cities, The Banquet Years (the updated contemporary less homophobic version), any atlas, Le Corbusier: Oeuvre Complete in 8 Volumes

Favourite museums/ cultural centres –
The Buckminster Fuller Institute, The Morgan Library, The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Lock Cha Tea House at the Hong Kong Museum of Teawear,

Your most aesthetically (sensual/ spiritual/ intellectual) inspired experience –
Trying to narrow down these types of experiences to the best is near impossible…all are different and all are “the most” in their own way. But a few might be: Aesthetically: Flying; Sensual: LSD; Spiritual: Understanding Joseph Campbell; Intellectual: Fusing sociology, urban studies, linguistics and art.

Art (books, movie, exhibition, museum, etc) wish list –
If I’m gonna dream it might as well be a complete fantasy…I wish I had a gallery in the major city of every country on Earth!

Book/Exhibition –
I wish I could see Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915 – 1935 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London currently on view though Jan 2012…and the catalog of the exhibition.

Artist/character (in any field) with whom you identify the most –
Robert Smithson, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Marcel Duchamp, Chico Marx and W. C. Fields

Most inspiring city –
All of them! Each city is different and interesting in it’s own way.

Most influential person – character, artist, filmmaker, writer, etc –
My father: for the art training/insight head start, my mother: for my OCD, Marcel Duchamp, Le Corbusier, Joseph Campbell…and lately El Lissitzky…

Most challenging aspect of working in the art world (& its institutions) – 
The freedom of the studio…

Most gratifying aspect of being a part of the art world (& its institutions) –
The freedom of the studio…

Always carry with you … –
My body.

What are arts patrons’ responsibilities, if any?
Patience, open-mindedness, curiosity and the ability not to be intimidated by the unknown…and if collecting…an open wallet!

What are artists’ responsibilities to their art or to society, if any?
Clarity of purpose, knowledge that the gallery/museum is not the studio, dedication and consistency.

Art world Pet peeves –
Pretentiousness and temperamentality

Upcoming exhibitions –
The Art of Mapping curated at The Air Gallery, in London (opens on Nov. 14-26) and The Map as Art at The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Sept 2012-Jan 2013).