Oliver Laric: did you also live in china for a while?
Thomas Bayrle: not so long, no. i lived in Japan. i went many times. the first time was in ‘78. i also had a gallery there.
ol: that was in tokyo?
tb: yes, i worked with this very conservative man. a very touching character.
ol: who was that, if you don’t mind me asking?
tb: he was called masaomi Unagami and i worked with him for over fifteen years. he had a large collection of mine, around sixty works. and i value him as a person. but the program did not convince me, simply because nothing was happen- ing. so i would take him along with me, to the tri- ennial in yokohama and so forth, but he just did not look at anything. anyway he was not flexible. which you have to be, of course, as a modern gal- lerist in Japan.
ol: did he build up a Japanese collection?
tb: yes, he had inoue yU-ichi, who was a hugely important painter. he somehow did not grasp his work. that doesn’t matter now. ol: Gertrude stein said: “there is no such thing as repetition”. this becomes especially clear when reading stein, listening to James brown, or looking at your work. it may be boring talking about the impossibility of rep- etition. Perhaps we should talk about the pro- ductive potential of repetition? tb: oK, so it always works like this: i have this metaphor with weaving that i learned. a funda- mentally important metaphor. because weaving is different from printing, where it is possible to produce different intensities. with weaving, you have to be clear: the thread goes over or it goes underneath. it is a different materiality and strin- gency. so i just went on from there without having too much of a plan. one thing led to another. of course you have questions of reproduction and of course i also see repetition as the source of life and art. it is not possible without repetition—nature is not possible, nothing is. i worked through that with a certain mentality. and once through, there was another version, and after that, oddly enough, yet another. at first i had not thought it would car- ry through for so long. and quite the opposite, it kept growing.
ol: looking at your works from the ‘70s, they seem like they could have been made in 2012. with some artists, writers or filmmakers, it seems the dialogue intensifies from decade to decade, that present technological devel- opments actualize your earlier works. in that way, works are retrospectively affected and works made in the ‘60s or ‘70s are now being changed.
tb: that is right; i did not see this angle at the time. nowadays you see it from another point of view. you automatically see it through the internet.
ol: holograms have a curious quality. if a hologram film is cut into two halves and only one half is exposed with laser, you can still see