Matthew Olzmann: How do these things fit together? What kind of order makes sense? Since anything could be included, what actually should be included?
Nancy Shaver: I think everything starts from fear.
Olzmann: It can entertain, comfort, or attack.
Shaver: No, not really. Which means I go buying things.
Olzmann: That’s probably how it should be, though.
Shaver: Duchamp said, “Taste can’t help you understand what art can be.” In Hudson there are all these shops selling good taste to New Yorkers; I’m not interested in doing that, which makes me not a good business person.
Olzmann: Shklovsky said, “Art exists in order to restore the sensation of life, in order to make us feel things, in order to make a stone stony. The goal of art is to create the sensation of seeing, and not merely recognizing, things…”
Shaver: The things I sell at Henry are real objects in that way.
Olzmann: The part where the focus narrows to the individual was added sometime later in revision.
Shaver: I wanted to collapse both the spatial and hierarchical differences. I wanted both elements to be equal. I didn’t want it to be about anything except the shirt and the background. I didn’t want it to be about the light. And then it was so confounding an experience in the present.
Olzmann: Those are the moments that feel like you’re walking onto a stage believing you’re going to be David Bowie, then you suddenly realize you’re actually in a cover band—and not a particularly good one at that—badly imitating the thing you thought you were.
Shaver: It’s surreal in a certain way, because who would ever think that was ordinary?
Olzmann: That’s not a manifesto.
Shaver: But it was an accident at first. [Laughs] That wasn’t always visible.
Olzmann: You thought you were looking at a stone, but you didn’t really see the stone, and now you do.