28 February 2016

Pantone 448C

FS: "Reconsidering the Object of Art: 1965-1975" (Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, October 1995) caused a stir in part due to its perhaps ironic affiliation with Philip Morris as a sponsor (considering the loaded leftist-based political imagery on display), and your subsequent withdrawal from the show. When were you made aware of Philip Morris' sponsorship of the exhibition?

AP: Not until pretty late, there was a period when I was taking care of my mother and dealing with her estate afterward and I was basically not there. It was not until Hans Haacke faxed me some of the material and I just lost it so I faxed the head of the museum, saying "get me out of here" and actually they were really very good about it. They kind of got it, as to why it was important for me to pull out, but that would have been one to two months after the show opened and from what I understand from Hans is that they were not aware of the Philip Morris sponsorship until the opening of the show.

FS: Haacke and yourself have been outspoken in the discussion about corporate use of the arts for their own public-relations purposes. Tell me, how do you think corporations actually influence the production of visual art? Especially among younger artists?

AP: I think it's very, very scary. I think I finally realized why Philip Morris is so much behind Jesse Helms, because Helms is trying to get rid of the National Endowment for the Arts and of course without the NEA there would be basically no government funding. So everyone would have to go to Philip Morris, or something else like Philip Morris and the thing is, Philip Morris is one of the few corporations that is clearly and visibly and simply evil. It's not a complex moral issue here, it really is just killing people, and if it were not in control of all this art funding it would be such an easy target, but course, younger artists are right to think that they are not going to be able to get funding if they don't take advantage of these funds. Things are already difficult enough as it is, and of course we have postmodernist doubt but, then it makes things so much harder for people to see clearly when their self interest is at stake. I've actually heard really good, concerned, left-thinking friends of mine say, "Well, they haven't really proved a connection between smoking and cancer." So it's scary because the corporations have so much power and they really are able to silence younger artists from protesting in effective ways and also they cloud people's moral perceptions, which I think is very scary. So I think they are the devil.