How Do You Say Thank You?


This past Monday we were lucky to have Paul Ramirez Jonas with us here at PSU for our Monday night lecture series.

He gave a warm, eloquent, funny and intelligent talk about his work that he prepared just for us, who he referred to as “his people”—Art and Social Practice artists.

To express his gratitude Paul sent us the amazing list of questions below that he wrote on the plane back to New York following his visit.

How can we say thank you for such a generous and inspiring visit? Not hardly enough.

Thank you Paul.



1.      How many viewers are enough?
2.      Is one viewer enough?
3.      Are ten viewers enough?
4.      Are a hundred viewers enough?
5.      Are a thousand viewers enough?
6.      Are a hundred thousand viewers enough?
7.      Are a million viewers too many?
8.      Can art change the world?
9.      Can art change one viewer?
10.     What is success?
11.     Am I an author?
12.     Am I a reader?
13.     If I am a reader, don’t i have more in common with the public than with the artists?
14.     If I am only a reader of pre-existing texts, who are the authors?
15.     Can there be an author-public?
16.     Conversely, can there be a public-author?
17.     Can a work make itself?
18.     Can a text write itself?
19.     Who gets to inscribe public space permanently?
20.     Whose voice is it in a monument?
21.     Whose words?
22.     How long does an artwork have to last to be permanent?
23.     How long can an artwork last and still be ephemeral?
24.     Is there a temporal dimension to the world wide web?
25.     Is there a temporal dimension to ideas?
26.     Where do ideas go when they die?
Where do actions go when they are over?
27.     Who am I?
28.     Am I you?
29.     How much of me is in you?
30.     How different am I from you?
31.     If we are 99% alike, is my artwork your artwork?
32.     Whose words?
33.     Whose voice?
34.     Can we make things with words?
35.     Can apathy be emancipatory?
36.     Can participation be meaningless?
37.     Can there be passive engagement?
38.     Why didn’t Gandhi change the whole world?
39.     Can I believe in democracy if I don’t believe in equality?
40.     How can we reconcile equality with individuality? Aren’t they in opposition?
41.     Can I make publics?
42.     Is making publics enough?
43.     Are these desperate times?
44.     If reading is more creative than writing, what is voice?
45.     Is reading out loud enough engagement?
46.     Where is the line between interaction and emancipation?
47.     How can making art be part of democracy?
48.     Can democracy exist only in discussion but not in action?
49.     Where the post-modernists wrong?
50.     Is it better to have faith even while we know we are doomed?
51.     How can one advocate for faith when one has none?
52.     In other words, what is the difference between hope and faith?
53.     What is the difference between publishing and broadcasting?
54.     Are pedestals methods of publishing or of broadcasting?
55.     How about frames?
56.     How about screens?
57.     This or that?
58.     This and that?
59.     If the state speaks through stone and bronze, what is our material?
60.     How can I become we?
61.     What is a public?
62.     What is its shape?
63.     Can our stories ever enter history?
64.     If our stories enter history, en masse, is that the end of history?
65.     Why can’t I accept death?
66.     Why will my work outlive me?
67.     What do I do with that resentment?
68.     Are we a life form? Or is our culture the life form, while we are mere organs that sustain it?
69.     Can organs be authors?
70.     Are we autonomous?
71.     Are we individuals?
72.     Are we a community?
73.     Is a community alive or dead?
74.     How about sourdough?
75.     what is a public?
76.     Why are humans such horrible creatures?
77.     Can you be a democrat and a misanthrope as well?
78.     Why be funny?
79.     How can I stop being funny?
80.     Is it true that God makes one out of every 10 jews funny?
81.     Is that to make it more bearable for the other 9?
82.     Am I sincere?
83.     Can I grow?
84.     Can I erase myself?
85.     Can the artwork make itself?
86.     How long is forever?
87.     What materials are eveready for new impressions?
88.     Can words be mirrors?
89.     Can we really make things with words?
90.     Can we make mirrors?
91.     Is making coercive?
92.     Always?
93.     Without modernism, what is rigor in the arts?
94.     What is public?
95.     What is to make public?
96.     Why is it that we never speak of democracy in relation to making art?
97.     Do we believe that all viewers equal in front of the work?
98.     Do all viewers have the same rights in relation to the work?
99.     Are we equal in front of an artwork?
100.    Are we brothers in front of an artwork?
101.    Are we free in front of an artwork?
102.    Do we have rights in front of an artwork?
103.    What are these rights? Are they inalienable?
104.    Can we breathe together in front of an artwork?
105.    Can we only be bound through culture, texts, objects, i.e. by what we make?

One thing is for sure… a text may have no author, but it cannot read itself.