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PRINT March 2003

’80s AGAIN

Mark Dion

I came to New York in 1982 to study at the School of Visual Arts. At that time, all these amazing people were teaching at SVA: Craig Owens, Douglas Crimp, Benjamin Buchloh, and Hal Foster, as well as artists like Tom Lawson and Joseph Kosuth. They were incredibly generous; classes would evolve into dinner, which would then turn into an evening of drinking and dancing. In the mid-’80s there was this great mushrooming of theory, and its spores infected everyone. A lot of people were terrorized by it, while other people just had a natural facility to jump in. You often found people who felt very free to quote Foucault and Baudrillard, though they’d never read Descartes, Kierkegaard, or Kant. There was a kind of dilettantism about it that was actually quite liberating, though some people used theory as a weapon. Certainly in school it was very competitive.

As told to Gregory Williams

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