Ellen Mueller

Interview with Tom Marioni

by Ellen Mueller on October 2, 2023, no comments

Walking Drawing by Tom Marioni

“Walking Drawing” by Tom Marioni

As part of the release of the hardcover release of my book, Walking as Artistic Practice (softcover comes out in April!), I’m going to be publishing some brief interviews with the various artists, authors, researchers, creatives, collectives, and platforms whose art practice, written material, or other works I cite and mention.

My seventh interview in this series is with Tom Marioni who is famous for social art such as, The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends is the Highest Form of Art, Oakland Museum 1970. He has presented in the US, Europe, and Japan. Ongoing sculpture-based actions include, One Second Sculpture 1969, Drawing a Line as Far as I Can Reach 1972, Out of Body Freehand Circle 2004, presented in the Guggenheim Museum. Founded Museum of Conceptual Art ’70-’84, first MOCA show Sound Sculpture As 1970, Vision magazine ‘75 to ’81, Crown Point Press, The Art Orchestra ’97, and he performed in the SF Legion of Honor. Other honors include: Society of Independent Artists ’99, ongoing art salon, 3 NEA grants late 70s, Guggenheim Fellow ’81, as well as museum collections in US and Europe.

EM: First, thank you for chatting with me about your work, Walking Drawing, which I cite in chapter nine (Connections to Drawing). How would you describe this piece for people who might not be familiar with it?

TM: My walking drawing from 1999 comes from a series begun in 1972 Tree, Drawing a line as far as I can reach which was a measurement of my reach and not about how a tree looks but how a tree grows. Drawing from the bottom of the paper to the top is actually a Chinese word which means stick in Chinese then came Running and Jumping Marking the Paper while Trying to fly also 1972 which was a record of flight. I was holding a pencil and attempting flight by jumping and marking the paper and then in 1999 holding the pencil at my waist I walked making a record of my walking on the paper or on the wall of how the body moves when it walks. it is a pictorial record of my walking.

EM: What are some of your most recent thoughts on walking as artistic practice?

TM: Many artists starting with Richard long in England would take walks in the countryside create a work with stones making a line or a circle and then photograph it to record its existence and since then many artists have made walking as an action of art. Also, Hamash Fulton made walking as an art performance in other countries beside his native England.

EM: Can you tell us about any upcoming or recent projects you are excited about?

TM: I am continuing my famous social artwork The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends is the Highest Form of Art from 1970 and continuing to this day as a weekly art club in my studio in San Francisco. It is social art.

EM: Below is a video with remarks on a variation of this drawing piece: