Ian Wilson — The Discussions

book, 192 pp., 18.5 x 27 cm

Published by the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, in collaboration with Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and Musée d’art moderne et contemporain (Mamco), Geneva, with support by Jan Mot, Brussels.

ISBN: 978-90-70149-95-6 (English edition) / 978-84-92505-00-5 (Spanish edition)

Conceptual artist Ian Wilson (1940, Durban, South Africa) has been interested in spoken language as an art form since 1968. At first, he described his own work as ‘oral communication’, and later on as ‘discussion’. At Wilson’s own request, his work is never recorded either as film or audio in order to preserve the transient nature of the spoken word. Wilson created a non-tangible art form, that only exists when the discussion is taking place, and lives on afterwards in the memories of the people that were present. The Van Abbemuseum posed the question if it would be possible to document his fleeting oeuvre. During a visit of Wilson to the Van Abbemuseum in 2006, the idea arise to make a catalogue raisonné, containing all of Wilson’s discussions from 1968 until 2008. Using documentation and the recollection of participants, the fleeting works have been catalogued by researcher Chantal Kleinmeulman. For this publication, American art historian Anne Rorimer wrote the essay ‘Ian Wilson – The Object of Thought’, placing the work of Wilson within the context of contemporaries such as Robert Barry, Joseph Kosuth, Lawrence Weiner and artists collective Art & Language. In the book, every discussion is documented seperately. Factual information is supplemented with personal impressions of participants, including Rudi Fuchs, Daniel Buren, Lawrence Weiner, Michel Claura, René Denizot, Massimo Minini, Giuseppe Panza, Merrill Ryman, Christel & Urs Raussmüller, Sylvie Winckler, Oscar van den Boogaard and Luca Cerizza. Other works by Wilson are also addressed, including some of the ‘statements’ that are related to his discussions and refer to the general idea of discussions. ‘Ian Wilson – The Discussions’ has been compiled as a source book to stimulate further research on Wilson’s works.