Stefano Faoro:What is your best book?

Joëlle Tuerlinckx:Of course when I have to give you an answer to the question, I don't know. The best for me is the book that gives the idea of a book. For example, when we talk about a wall or a table, immediately my mind imagines a specific wall or table. When I have the idea of a book, it is this bookFIG. 1 that comes to mind, I have a lot of reasons why I choose this book.

The first reason is a simple one, it is my oldest book. I guess this reason is a little bit affective, but for me this book is a mixture of different feelings. It has a kind of taste. In this taste there are all the moments of my life, I got it when I was busy discovering the world.

I've never understood whether my favorite part is the images, or if I prefer the second part of the book, the part with the explanations. I like both very much. I remember I loved to go in between the images and the explanations, following the first with the second.FIG. 2

At the same time the only collection I had then was a collection of stones. I had my collection of stones, when I didn't have any works of art yet, and this still continues today. The collection is called La Collection Fondamentale [The Fundamental Collection]. An exhibition opened in Seoul, Korea yesterday where I presented a table with that collection. When I was young I loved to present the stones on my table but my table had a very particular color, unusual for stones. That table was orange and so is the one I have in Korea. All the figures that I made with the stones and presented on the orange table are fantastic and attractive because of the abnormal color used in the background.

I will never forget this book also because of the colors. All these different grays as backgrounds for the rocksFIG. 3. This is another very important aspect of the book that I discovered very late. In the book there is a strange phenomenon, there is not just one gray. The grays are not the same throughout the pages. It's a mystery why they are so different. Why? Is it accidental? Maybe… but it gives me the feeling that the book needed a long time to be made. Maybe they had to wait. What is so important for me is that normally the subject is the object of the image, here the background that is changing becomes as important as the object, that is the stones. I had a show in Chicago where I tried to install a kind of neutral gray, I crossed the ocean with my jars of gray paint. Once I arrived we discovered that they had a different neutral gray. Now I have a neutral gray from Chicago, from Brussels, and from Vienna. All these grays are so different, just like the ones in the book!

Every time I say to myself I know every aspect of this book, I always discover something new. For example, I was always very interested in the page with the geometrical figure, which avoids the figure of the silver crystal. In one show I decided to make this page bigger. I surprised myself. My idea was to make the image with the geometrical form bigger, but then I used the complete page. The whole show was related to silver and this page was suddenly important. When I was young I never looked at this page! I only chose to use it three or four years ago.FIG. 4

When I was young I dreamed about seeing one of the stones in the book whilst walking. All my walks were full of the hope that I might see one of the stones. My parents never told me that you can't find these kind of stones in Belgium and I was searched all day. I only found common things like this [points at a rock], and when I see this I take the stone into my collection, because my collection does not only exists out of precious stones.

In my drawings I use lines that continue and broken lines. Also this system comes from this book. Everybody understands that the continuous line is a line you see and that the dashed line is a line that you don't see. All my work is concerned with what you see and what you know; and what you know and you what you don't see. For my drawings I use the same system as used in this bookFIG. 5. And the images with the numbers, maybe the importance of numbers in all my books comes from here. Also in my new book, yesterday I finished the concept for my new publication; the number has a very important role on the page.

There is a last strange phenomenon I want to talk about. This is very very strange. It happened a long time after I was reading the book for the first time, when I was a student at art school during my first year here, in Brussels. Nobody told me about 20th century art, I didn't know anything about minimal art, conceptual art, Sol Lewitt or Carl André. But when the teacher started to talk to me, for example about Sol Lewitt, everything was very familiar. In the beginning I didn't understand. I didn't establish the connection with my book. Every time they talked about Mondrian or Broodthaers or Lewitt they all seemed very familiar to me. In Belgium, if you are an artist, like me, you have two options for a grandfather: one is Magritte, the line with the surrealism, the language in art, and the other one is Vantongerloo, the Mondrian of Belgium. There are these two lines. I always have the feeling that I have two grandfathers, not only Magritte or only Vantongerloo, but both. Which is impossible, it is impossible to have two lines, one abstract and one surrealist. Slowly I discovered the importance of this book in my life. Here the two lines are together! In a book you can imagine crazy things together. This is the most fantastic thing that is possible to do with a book. Mondrian, Lewitt, Broodthaers, and Magritte, all together on this page. The book showed me that this is possible. One definition of art can be making something totally impossible possible. This is one of the most wonderful things when you have a book like this book.FIG. 6, 7, 8

The fabulous thing with this book is that I never finish exploring and understanding how important it is to me. Also, you see it is like a human being. It slowly becomes very old. Like these parts protected by paper are so important and they are slowly going away.FIG. 9

Fig. 1: Stefano Faoro and Joëlle Tuerlinckx
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Fig. 2: Stefano Faoro and Joëlle Tuerlinckx
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Fig. 3: Stefano Faoro and Joëlle Tuerlinckx
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Fig. 4: Stefano Faoro and Joëlle Tuerlinckx
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Fig. 5: Stefano Faoro and Joëlle Tuerlinckx
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Fig. 6: Stefano Faoro and Joëlle Tuerlinckx
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Fig. 7: Stefano Faoro and Joëlle Tuerlinckx
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Fig. 8: Stefano Faoro and Joëlle Tuerlinckx
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Fig. 9: Stefano Faoro and Joëlle Tuerlinckx
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