Chapter 3: Question, 1969–1977, Brussels-Mönchengladbach-New York / Hoofdstuk 3: Vraag / Chapitre 3: Question
In the early 1970s, Byars’s overriding interest was the idea of the question. As he wrote in a letter to Isi Fiszman: ‘If the critical questions were gathered would you then have a picture of the contemporary problems of earth people?’
Byars launched this quest during his exhibition at Wide White Space Gallery in 1969, when he went to Oxford to meet a Wittgenstein expert and collect questions. Soon afterwards he was artist-in-residence at the Hudson Institute, a politically conservative American think tank. Since travelling to institutions of knowledge in search for questions was not economically feasible, Byars established his own World Question Center operating by telephone.
Also in 1969, Byars organised a live broadcast in collaboration with Belgian Radio and Television. Together with a circle of 30 students from the University of Brussels (among them were also Marcel Broodthaers and the collector Hubert Peeters), he realised The World Question Center by telephoning illustrious thinkers all over the world.
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The Letter Reading Societ...
James Lee Byars, The Letter Reading Society of James Lee Byars, 1987. Installation, two 17th century chairs and framed title in gold pencil on black silk paper, 18 x 353 cm.
James Lee Byars, The Worl...
Jef Cornelis, James Lee Byars, The World Question Center, 1969. Film, single-channel video, b/w, sound, 01:02:06.
Letter to Jef Cornelis, W...
James Lee Byars, Letter to Jef Cornelis, Walter Van Dyck and Ludo Bekkers, 1969. Letter, pink silk paper, 9 x (51 x 70.5 cm).