Abbott & Barsby

Abbott & Barsby

A discussion between Kaavous Clayton and Abbott & Barsby at Outpost on 28 July 2005. 

Kaavous Clayton: Can you tell me the main themes behind 'The Hot 60'. 

Abbott: Aspiration. 

Barsby: Collaboration as well I suppose. 

KC: You seem to have explored these ideas through book titles, alternative titles for your show and t-shirts with band-names on them. Why have you chosen these devices in particular? 

A: Because those are all things we want to do. We're both in bands, we both make art and want to have shows and we both think that we're going to write books one day. Although to be honest I don't think I've got the concentration to write a whole book, doing 20 titles was hard enough. 

B: I also see it as an extension of the "that's a good name for a band" conversation that you have in a pub when your with friends. As creative people we tend to imagine things like that, that are either poignant or just funny at the time. I suppose we just took it that one step further. 

KC: Or 59 steps further. Do you see any of these ideas as viable projects to continue exploring or are they more like one-liners that have fulfilled their role simply by being brought to people's attention? 

B: Some of them are already projects that either Abbott or myself have begun, but with no definite outcome, they're still just ideas. We have had to strip away our usual aesthetic outlook from our individual work to focus on the collaboration as a single project. 

A: I'm not sure if things need anything more than just a title to exist. I like the idea of a band or a show or a book or anything else existing as nothing more than an idea, it could ruin it to take the idea any further. I've never seen most of my favourite works of art in real life, but the idea of them has still had an effect, so they exist for me in a kind of transient way, and that's ok. 

KC: Why did you decide to limit yourselves to 60 ideas? Obviously thoughts and ideas are things that continue beyond our control so the idea of limiting this seems quite restrictive. 

A: We came up with the title before we knew what it was. We just thought that "The Hot 60" was a good name for something, and then it just kind of evolved in this show. 

B: It's also alluding to those "best ever" programs that have saturated prime-time T.V. We seem to need to put everything into an order or a definite list. We could have had more than sixty things in the show but we are still constricted by the size of the space, we had to stop somewhere. 

KC: Ideas about collaboration seem to crop up in quite a few of the titles, what is the relevance of collaborating to you? 

B: Collaboration is something that I think is very important for artists to experience. I collaborate a lot in my practise and had always wanted to work with Abbott. Collaboration allows you to widen your perspective on the things around you; you end up creating a shared ideology. Inevitably two heads are better than one. 

A: I think we all collaborate a lot more than we realise, ideas are passed around and shared within a group of friends or a creative community and that's what collaboration is; it's about sharing ideas. I like the notion that there's 'something in the air' that a group of like-minded people can tune into, and I see that as a kind of collaboration. But maybe that's something I just tell myself to stop feeling guilty about ripping off my friends. I think that by defining a project as a collaboration, like we've done here, you can free your self up to do something that you might not have considered valid before. It's a nice change. 

KC: Do you think collaboration can dilute ideas to some extent? For instance if compromises have to be made or ideals or ideas conflict and have to change? 

A: I suppose that's possible. 

B: That is something that you have to expect. As an individual you have the luxury of doing what you want to do whether it is right or wrong. In a collaborative situation you have somebody to bounce ideas off and therefore ideas will change, hopefully for the better. 

A: Maybe we should have called the show 'Hold my hand while I pretend to be an artist'. 

KC: That's 61!

Abbott & Barsby

Abbott & Barsby

Abbott & Barsby