Robert Enright’s “peregrinations”

Robert Enright’s “peregrinations” are thirty-three interviews with visual artists, filmmakers, choreographers, curators, composers, writers and critics. Originally published in Border Crossings, these interviews aim to, in the author’s words, “cross the boundaries of artistic practice” and discover a “coherent picture of contemporary art-making” (p. 11). The book is divided into five sections. “Singularities” features artists as different as Robert Motherwell, Peter Greenaway and Yoko Ono. “Collaborations” includes a discussion with novelist John Hawkes and painter David Salle, illustrating Enright’s interest in drawing parallels between art practices not seemingly connected. “Photographies” is comprised of interviews held during the 150th anniversary of the medium. “Musicalities” contains interviews with three composers and “Looking at Matisse” presents artists’ perspectives on the MOMA retrospective.

The interviews vary in tone-the most amusing is Maria Fernanda Cardoso’s depictions of her flea circus. John Berger’s mood is intelligent and intimate, Tony Cragg is direct and physical, and choreographer Martha Clarke reveals a contained passion. Enright’s gift is two-fold: he draws subjects out so that their concepts and temperaments emerge, and he describes and probes specific works so that even without visuals we are able to picture them clearly.

If there is a coherence among these artists, as Enright suggests, it is a quite general one: that artists need to make art, to express, to probe into the underlying forces of experience. Like most post-serventies art, what is described here is something that resists categorization in an art historical sense. At best this book allows a glimpse into the innermost core of an artist’s thinking, at worst it is a good read, where anecdotes are combined with moments of poignant insight. C. G.

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