Sivert Lindblom interviewed by Beate Sydhoff
Sivert Lindblom: To begin with, I had better to explain what I mean by secondary and primary feeling.
The secondary feeling is based on our direct experience and as a consequence of this, it is purely subjective. The primary feeling, that which is common to us all, can perhaps be explained as a basic structure stamped by biological factors. Its existence, however, is difficult to prove. This primary feeling is assuredly both the goal and the motive power of all creative activity, but it cannot be treated as a means. The primary feeling is thus not directly communicable; it must first be objectivized by some means so that it becomes indirectly communicable.
That the secondary feeling exists is obvious, but it is neither directly, nor indirectly communicable, because it is not common to all.
If we regard form as a means of communication, then it should not be associated, at all with secondary feeling.
We have to concentrate on the actual language, the form. We have to establish in what plane the form as means of communication functions, and seek in this plane distinct and precise formulation. To exploit as much as possible the conscious ego, the intellect, in order to be able to objectivize one’s experiences with the greatest clarity.
BS: Does this mean that your work is ”unfeeling”?
SL: In the case of secondary feelings, I hope so. When one avoids these relative aspects, there emerges what is for me an active emptiness that approaches the concept of freedom.
An emptiness that the spectator himself can ”fill in” and therefore really be aware of himself. The form of the vessel determines the content.
BS: How did you arrive at these ideas?
SL: The reason was the l imitations of the learned, formal conventions. A situation arises in which you can’t get any further without extremely strained intentions. It’s a sort of paralysis.
BS: You experienced freedom when you discovered that you could utterly reject secondary feelings as a means.
SL: The conscious exploitation of one’s feelings is to me a paradox. When I realized the consequences of this, I really experienced an enormous sense of liberation, a feeling of maximum opportunity. In a situation like this, observations become possible, the arbitrariness of sentiment disappears, it is no longer metaphysics one is concerned with but with vision.
BS: Can one find any re-occurring characteristic in your idea of form?
SL: As I’ve already mentioned, I was trying to establish how we experience the registration of form and content. My discovery of the two-dimensional in both form and content was decisive for my subsequent work.
BS: What do you mean by two-dimensionality?
SL: Our visual opportunities. I believe that two-dimensionality becomes palpable in the direct observation of how man’s senses and intellect function when they comprehend form and content, for instance the inability of our eyes to register other than the surface of the form. If we see a cube we understand it as a three-dimensional thing, but what we see is surfaces combined in given positions. A texture is simply a more: complicated surface phenomenon. To create an idea of what is behind the surfaces, we can ask our own experience, and the experience of others, but it is still impossible to prove anything with our senses, not even a cut made in the object can tell us anything — it simply gives us new surfaces. The formulations of content stand in a similar relationship to their mechanisms. The formulation is also a surface, and what this surface represents is something we can only comprehend by our own experience.
BS: And transferring this argument to your sculpture what was the consequence?
SL: The consequence was that I could determine where my language can be understood, I could concentrate on working there with the greatest possible clarity, so that the content lay in the visible. (as near the surface as possible).
BS: What did this mean as regards choice of material?
SL: The material suddenly didn’t matter, it had only a technical function as support to t he surface.
BS: And how does colour function on these surfaces?
SL: The colour, like the material, is used professionally to specify the surface, it is understood habitually as two-dimensional. The different colours are chosen without any aesthetic evaluation. The object is t o find colours that people register as objective information, as with traffic signs for instance.
BS: You are not concerned to communicate aspects that have to do with content?
SL: What is content and what is form in my works are difficult to handle separately. The content is the form, and the form is the content. The content, the poetical intention, has been given its clearest possible formulation and I can only provide information on the reading, the way to see it.
As regards colours, I should point out that I am exhibiting these results of .my work to a public which by convention mixes together a content dictated by the artistic conventions, they think they are seeing more than one can see. For this reason I have to try to renew their way of seeing and use clarifications, and in this I’ve sometimes made use of colour;
So there are details put in merely to steer the way people see.
BS: How do you want your sculpture to be understood?
SL: A further consequence of the two-dimensionality, and the working method arising from this observation, is that objects become ”immaterial”, they should be understood as thought-steered operations, registrations of thought.
The important thing is to get the spectator to participate in the intellectual adventure, a sort of co-creation in these speculative investigations.
BS: How do you feel about the new ”immaterial” sculpture in England?
SL: Technically and formally, I ‘am curious and feel in a way ‘related to it, but I find it very difficult to understand the meaning of their work; In my own view they have stopped half way. There is an aspect of conventional form there that I have no sympathy for.
BS: You said something about speculative investigations. Have these anything to do with the Bauhaus?
SL: Nothing to do with the Bauhaus at all.
The whole background to the Bauhaus’ belief in form and its functions is no longer in the picture. What is entirely obvious just now is that we have no faith in what the Bauhaus meant by form. Idea and intention demand that we’ should choose the form which is most effective as a means of communication, whether it is simple or composite, clear or unclear, clean or not clean.
BS: The Bauhaus believed in a clean world. Is your idea opposed to them also on this point?
SL: My idea is different, it’s not a’ question of any opposition. I am not trying to prove anything which excludes anything else. This is one of the reasons why the Bauhaus belief has no interest for me. The way in which I work concerns primarily myself and my possibilities of communicating.
BS: Is your art programmatical? Do you have intentions that lead to some specific goal?
SL: I should like to be able to take part in a positive and progressive creation that can develop man’s mechanisms and thus permit a more diversified experience of existence. The social function of art.
Konstrevy Nr 2 1967