I’ve been fascinated by conversation for a long time, from listening in the back of my parents car to connecting with strangers through chit chat. I’ve always sought it out and when the conditions are right, it’s one of my favourite things to do.

I’m now focusing on how WILMA can facilitate conversations. Through the bar, these conversations have began to take centre stage, but It’s not as framed as I would like. Now we are in the new year, I plan on hosting a series of ‘Wilma Talks…’ with different artists each week – from the MA but also different practitioners from different fields, that’s the idea anyway.

I’ve been researching different artists and curators with similar ideas around dialogues and conversation, and reading about their approach and outcomes. An interesting quote from Olafur Eliasson articulates an area i’d be keen to explore within these talks. He explains  his concept of how ideas are formed and where they may come from.

…..pretty lofty but what he’s getting at is what I’m interested in. In Eliasson’s interview for ‘The shape of an idea’, he expands on this further.  “It’s somehow meaningful but it has no words” – I know what Eliasson is describing and it’s “Something that hasn’t yet come into verbalisation”. However, “Intuition is never a moment, it’s always a flow” and I want to capture that first attempt. The moment when something shifts and the artist realises something they hadn’t before. I’ve experienced this through the flow of conversation and it’s this space that I am keen to explore within the talks. It’ll just take the right set of questions, the right set of circumstances and the right people for it to be vocalised, which then sparks something new, something interesting, something from that ‘wilderness of subconscious’ that everyone knows about….

It’s here where I want these conversations to occasionally veer. I’m finding it difficult to figure out what these conversations will be, how they will function, what they may turn into or what purpose they will serve. This will only come through trial, error and evaluation. However, I’ve had preconceived ideas as to where I’d like some aspects of the conversation to touch upon, if it’s possible, if it’s natural and if it’s organic, but by the very nature of a preconception I will naturally alter what may come out of the conversations. Anyways, I’m over thinking it, its just a chat at the end of the day.

The Joe Rogan Experience is one of the leading podcasts in terms of it’s listenership as well as its diverse range of guests. Its purpose is to be an interview, however, due to its duration it morphs and changes into something else. After 20-30 minutes the guests often drop their scripted professionalism and relax veering into area’s, stories and insights that only the freedom of time will allow. Their duration’s vary but usually run into the three hour mark. Guest dependant, I wouldn’t mind if the Wilma Talks took on this free form duration.

Hans Ulrich Obrist is a curator and the artistic director of the serpentine galleries. He has been doing these types of projects within the art world for a long time through his ‘Conversation Series’. He has over 2000 hours of recorded conversation with a range of artists covering a spectrum of topics culminating in a series of books. He also began his ‘Marathon’ series by hosting a 24 hour long conversation at the Serpentine Gallery in 2006 which saw a myriad of guests contribute towards the conversation.

“The “Etonne-moi” moment is definitely the key thing for the Marathons”, “etonne-moi” means “surprise me” and its this element that keeps the marathons and conversations engaged and interested. I’m eager to see if the Wilma Talks will contain surprising moments and what may come of them.

“The Interview Marathons treat the past as a toolbox with which to make an almost archaeological slice of the present,” commented Obrist, “they are also intended as ongoing research that can lead to exhibitions, projects, publications and all manner of future collaborations.”

I believe the description of an ‘archaeological slice of the present’ is what I’m looking for within my work, whether I find it within these conversations, I don’t know, but I’ve just got to talk my way into it…or out of it…


Matthew Weir