Written by Adora y Teddy Behr Friday, 07 May 2010 00:00
Adora: Do you remember the artist Felix Gonzales Torres who did those cool empty billboards all around town?
Teddy: I don’t remember the billboards, but I read about the ones he put up in New York with pictures of the bed he shared with his lover, Ross, who died in 1991 of AIDS related complications. The bed was empty and you could see how two people slept there. It immediately made you feel the intimacy any couple shares. And because the bed was white and full of shadows, you felt the emptiness and loss of intimacy.
A: My favorite has to be the piece he did about Ross after he'd died. It was a pile of candy on the floor in the shape of a bed. It weighed 175 pounds which was Ross's weight. Everybody was allowed to take some candy so the overall weight would go down, just the way it happened to Ross due to his illnesses. Eventually, they would add more candy, restoring the installation back to 175 pounds so he wouldn't “disappear” completely. I think it was so poetic: the candy, the bed and the way it got used up. Eventually Ross did die, and so did Felix Gonzalez Torres.
T: Yes, he died in 1996. His work was shown at the Venice Biennale representing the US in 2007. A lot of artists try to achieve powerful responses and feelings from very minimal materials and images the way Gonzalez Torres did and he is recognized internati-onally for this. Few have been able to engage people, such as taking candy or a poster from a pile on the floor or using the billboards, the way he did.
A: He was definitely a remarkable person who retold his story over and over through his art. In one interview, he said, "When people ask me, 'Who is your public?' I say honestly, without skipping a beat, 'Ross.' The public was Ross. The rest of the people just come to the work." For me, this is what his work was really about…Love…as the most significant and pervasive experience of life.