It is not an exaggeration to write that Hans Ulrich Obrist is everywhere, has curated everything and has interviewed everyone. If “peripatetic” is the word most overused to describe him, it is not inappropriate. The Swiss-born, everywhere-based curator and head of the Programme Migrateurs at the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris has an unstoppable wanderlust and a related symptom: his penchant for interviewing anyone and everyone who piques his curiosity, be they artist, scientist, writer, curator, composer, architect, thinker, etc. Since 1993, Obrist has conducted more than 300 interviews, 75 of which are collected here in a selection that respects the cultural and professional diversity of the interviewees. Each interview is introduced by a short text outlining the biography of the interviewee and giving some contextual information on the recording of the interview.
Since Hans Ulrich Obrist–museum director, curator, writer, cultural instigator and professional conversationalist–released his bestselling first volume of interviews back in 2004, one wonders if there is a living artist, musician or writer left with whom Obrist hasn’t recorded an interview. Happily, of course, there are plenty. Obrist–who was born in Zurich in 1968, and who joined London’s Serpentine Gallery as Co-Director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects in 2006–makes it his business to cross paths with the most significant thinkers of our time, from in or outside the artworld. Since 1993, he has conducted literally hundreds of interviews. The 70 published here are taken from an archive containing nearly 2,000 hours of recordings and organized by interviewees’ dates of birth. Volume 2 is another collection of insightful dialogues with a diverse group of architects, artists, filmmakers, historians, musicians, philosophers and writers–including Bjork, Miranda July, Studs Terkel, Czeslaw Milosz, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Emmett Williams, Merce Cunningham, Richard Hamilton, Doris Lessing, Beno”t Mandelbrot, Kazuo Shinohara, Jacques Herzog, Ai Wei Wei, Arto Lindsay and Michel Houellebecq– a rich trove of international cultural thought spanning the past 100 years. Encyclopedic in scope but intimate in tone, these exchanges provoke unexpected torrents of biographical trajectories, theoretical adventurings and inklings of projects to come.