Interview: Michael Corris: On the Free Museum of Dallas
by Claire Ruud
...might be good [mbg]: What kind of art is possible in the Office of the Chair?
Michael Corris [MC]: The question of possibility leads quickly to the question of permission. The Office of the Chair is the site of administration, a place where permissions are granted or denied. It is a site of dialogue, of negotiation. So one response might be to say: the kind of art which is possible is simply a subset of the kind of activities, ideas, procedures, policies, et cetera, which may be sanctioned by the Office. However, the Free Museum of Dallas is about denying the warrant that traditionally accrues to the Office of the Chair. It is the seat of administrative authority, but also something else. This something else is not just a supplemental field of practice over which the Office of the Chair holds dominion; rather, it is a counter-practice or counter-sociality that registers a kind of contempt for the entire notion of a seat of administrative authority. So, the Free Museum of Dallas aims to free the Office of the Chair from itself. This is not to say that the business of the Chair is necessarily prevented by the coincidence of the Free Museum of Dallas. But if something of the authority of the Office of the Chair is not changed in some way—that is, if something is not lost and gained at the same time—then the Free Museum of Dallas is nothing but a bit of decorative frippery. I suppose the kind of art that I would like to see as being possible in the Office of the Chair would be that art which might warm the cockles of Friedrich Nietzsche’s heart.
mbg: And equally importantly, what kind of art isn’t possible?
MC: This reminds me of Ad Reinhardt's inventory of negation; what art is not is easier to define than what art is. The kind of art that isn't possible in the Free Museum of Dallas is the kind of art that doesn't find the bi-stable duck-rabbit amusing and profound at the same time.
mbg: Before the Free Museum, what kind of work did you do in your office?
MC: Everything necessary to prepare as quickly as possible for the transformation of the Office of the Chair into the Free Museum of Dallas.
mbg: Now that you’ve turned the Office into the Museum, what kind of work will you do in the office?
MC: Everything necessary to ensure the continuation of the Office of the Chair as the Free Museum of Dallas. Beyond that, everything necessary to secure further spaces (physical and conceptual) throughout the building and Dallas as the Free Museum of Dallas
mbg: How many square feet is the Museum, anyway?
MC: To paraphrase Norbert Wiener, how could one ever hope to count the number of clouds in the sky? How many square feet is a relationship? Can a social project be a commodity?
Claire Ruud is Associate Director of Fluent~Collaborative.