The James Gleeson oral history collection

James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists

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Rendezvous with configuration. St. Peters, S.A., Experimental Art Foundation, 1978: a 1978
Print, artist's book, planographic, offset-lithograph, printed in black ink
sheet 20.6 h x 14.6 w cm
Courtesy of the artist
more detail

Imants Tillers

26 September 1979

James Gleeson: Imants, can we go back to Paris and the time when you were working with George Baldessin on the etchings? Can you elaborate a little bit on this period and the processes?

Imants Tillers: Okay.

James Gleeson: For instance, both you and George worked on these plates, did you?

Imants Tillers: Yes. I think the best way to explain it is that first of all George had been helping me with the etchings for Rendevouz with configuration P, just the basic processes which he showed me very quickly. I liked the medium. So he suggested that we do a plate together. Oh well, some sort of souvenir of us both being together at the same time. So the way we did it was he started a plate. He just put an image on it, which was the corkscrew. No, no, it was a screen. That one.

James Gleeson: This is the plate?

Imants Tillers: Yes. That was the first plate. He did an image of a screen and then he gave me a plate and he asked me to put an image on that. We both allowed each other enough space for the other person to complete it.

James Gleeson: Which one was that?

Imants Tillers: These ones. I started this one.

James Gleeson: You started that one.

Imants Tillers: So there was a pair of images. One that he started, which has a screen on it, with a woman and some rocks and things.

James Gleeson: And the ruler?

Imants Tillers: No, no, he didn’t put that on there. He just put the screen.

James Gleeson: I see.

Imants Tillers: He left one of the panels empty.

James Gleeson: Yes.

Imants Tillers: Then for my image I did a table from an old engraving with a scale on it. Then he took the plate I’d started away and he finished it by adding a corkscrew and a window and making it vaguely into a room. I finished his plate by imitating the format and reiterating my first image.

James Gleeson: Yes.

Imants Tillers: We both liked the outcome so much that we decided to do a whole series of them, a series of five pairs of plates. All of them are done in the same way.

James Gleeson: So that was the first one?

Imants Tillers: Yes. They’re numbered.

James Gleeson: Yes.

Imants Tillers: 1A, 1B.

James Gleeson: I see, yes.

Imants Tillers: Two, three, four, five.

James Gleeson: Of course they are, yes.

Imants Tillers: Anyway, so the process in all cases was that within each pair of plates, he would start one and I would finish it; I would start one and he would finish it. They were done in sequence and neither of us knew what the next plate after that was going to be. So it was very much getting a plate and seeing what you could do with it and, you know, the other person doing likewise.

James Gleeson: I see.

Imants Tillers: That’s how they added up to five. He had his strategy for completing them. I don’t know what that was. I had, well, a very simple strategy for completing mine.

James Gleeson: I see, yes. So that in both images you both play a part.

Imants Tillers: Yes. In a funny way, what interested me in the outcome was that the images looked like neithers work.

James Gleeson: No, no.

Imants Tillers: So it was almost a new artistic style or something that mediated between us, rather than being an obvious collaboration. I suppose I was doing a similar thing in Rendezvous with configuration P, you know, illustrating Duchamp’s image with a text of O’Brien’s. So that sort of procedure was something that I was sympathetic to.


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