David Horvitz
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Conversation with David Horvitz + Paul Branca

David Horvitz: We have both been traveling recently, so I wanted to talk about travel. I was going through photos I shot in Paris recently, and I found one I had taken for you near the Palais de Tokyo and the Museum of Modern Art. It was of a single asparagus on the ground, and it reminded me of the Manet story you told me - where a collector pays him more than expected for a painting of a bundle of asparagus, and Manet responds to his generosity with a painting of a single asparagus as if it had fallen out of the first painting. When I arrived at the Museum of Modern Art I found it closed because five paintings had been stolen the night before. I walked away and found the asparagus.

Paul Branca: Isn't it funny how these art historical anecdotes made you notice vegetables left behind from a Paris street market and think of an exchange that happened over a hundred years ago. I wonder if that asparagus stalk was in, say Ohio, would you have made that very same correlation? When I am in Northern Italy and see these amazing cookies and breads I ONLY think of de Chirico. If it was in a Brooklyn bakery I would not. I like that a sense of place and food can associate you to a moment in my respective metier, being painting, and best of all you can buy that culture, and eat it. In Paris I wound up photographing a lot of images of frites outside of Kebab places. I can not readily associate frites with an artist as of yet (although...), so I see fodder in these fried potatoes for my own works. Does looking at painting ever make you hungry (laughs)?

David Horvitz: There is Broodthaers and moules-frites, but it's the moules, not the frites. The funny thing about the asapragus in Paris is that it happened right after paintings were stolen, a different kind of art transaction. I don’t get hungry looking at paintings of food. I am satisfied by the appearance of it. I appreciate its presence and simplicity - the color and the light. I think about life. When I walk through markets of fresh produce I sometimes become self-consciously aware of my mood rising from looking at piles of Pink Lady apples or a box of Bosc pears. I remember last summer we were driving to Germantown, and though we were probably driving 40 mph, I vividly remember a small glimpse of red catching my attention. It was a crab apple, and it was probably only a few inches in size, but my vision was drawn right to it. Later you told me you noticed it too. Do you remember that?

Paul Branca: Yes, but I remember us stopping the car and picking one and it being too sour to eat. When I look at paintings of food, or paintings in general, I often think about the concept of parsimoniously snacking, consuming little by little over time. Which reminds me, in Zurich I saw Courbet's famous painting of a trout. I photographed it again and again zooming in so only to capture the stippled abstract universe which are his scales. The trout is being pulled along by the fishing line on a rocky ground. He too will be someone's meal soon. I took a lot of pictures this recent trip, and not only of paintings, but my memory card disappeared and all these images are gone. Has that ever happened to you?

David Horvitz: In the Orsay in Paris I saw a painting of flowers that Courbet had done while in jail. I had read that his sister would bring him fruits while he was in jail, so I made up a story that these flowers were brought to him from her, as a gift from the outside. To answer your question - yes. I once flew to Costa Rica from Los Angeles, went to Panama, and then traveled back to Los Angeles by ground transportation. An amazing trip. Back in the US, I had temporarily stored all the photos on an Ipod, which was stolen from a parking garage. But to be honest, it almost felt like a relief. I have so many photographs I shoot daily that I don't know what to do with them. I imagine the digital files are circulating somewhere on the stolen Ipod distribution circuit. I did have a polaroid camera with me, and I remember taking a photograph of a cow somewhere in Nicaragua. That might be the only photograph I have from that trip.

Paul Branca: When I first realized that my 8GBs of images went astray, I took it as something to consider. Even though I will defend theses images as 'part' of my work, they inevitably will wind up stored on my ailing laptop's iPhoto or maybe, or if I have 24 hours of patience, uploaded to Picasa, only to be shared with my uninterested coworkers. I decided that I would try to list all the categories of just what it is that I take pictures of while traveling, or to try and recreate my pictures by using google images. That turned out to be a lame idea. I still find something really personal in taking snapshots while traveling.

David Horvitz: All my photos look like travel photos, even the ones taken while I'm home. I remember last year we realized we had both taken a photograph of the same advertisement - a man leisurely relaxing in a chair. Do you remember that? I've been taking photographs for years. No one sees them - most people just see my projects. But they are there, and they continue to grow. A blank billboard on a highway in the middle of America. A flower vendor without a permit selling red and yellow roses on Wall Street. Bottles of water that didn't make it through security checks at airports. The ocean.

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