Interview : Herman Daled

Philip Akkerman photographed by Willy Jolly in 2008 at the opening of his show with Tony Matelli at Stephane Simoens Contemporary Fine Art, Knokke, Belgium. ©Willy Jolly. Courtesy of the artist and the photographer

Dora Garcia, "Film (Hôtel Wolfers)", still image, 35 mm film transferred to digibeta, black and white, 11'31", English spoken, 2007. Courtesy of the artist. 


When we sat down in the living room of the famous Maison Wolfers where Mr. Herman Daled lives since 1977, I was nervous, Herman was confused. Notorious for turning down interview request, I knew my luck to be sitting there and my real challenge to make him talk. He looked as anxious as I was, a little impatient. “I don’t know why you wanted to interview me,” he said, “as you can see, I am not an artist”. So we laughed, and started our time travel back to 1966.

A man of intellectual pursuit and innate sensibility, he seeks knowledge in life and sees beauty in truth. He lets go of his emotions and he allows himself moments of perplex. A man of modesty and exigency, he gives himself a footnote role while living his life as one of the most ardent supporters of conceptual art. “I don’t deserve any credit except that I was a bit fool!” He laughed. “But it’s true! Because I don’t know what took hold of me… now that I have to live through all these again…” A long, long pause… I dared not to disturb him.
The walls are peeling, time elapses. The house is bare, in semi-ruin. Empty chairs and empty walls, it’s a rule in the house – not to crucify art on the walls.

Herman finally stood up to slide open the doors on both sides of the living room. Huge volumes of the 1930 Henry van de Velde building revealed. Again, empty chairs and empty walls. Three white chairs are posed in front of the window, each with a tin of paint and a brush sit neatly on it, rather conceptually. “This is not a work of art”, declared Herman. I know. “How did you know?” He was intrigued. Hidden behind the serious look of a radiologist is a very special sense of humor. He has the rebellious genes of 1968 in him. His children offered him chairs and paints for Christmas, and it’s the father’s task to paint the chairs blue, red and green. So here they are neatly arranged, intact. A joke for his guests who expected him to perform a collector’s role?! I tried to image a 36 year-old young man cashing half of a car for a piece of A4 paper signed by a certain Weiner.

Taking the path through the garden to the garage, I looked up again at the 3-storey hôtel de particulière. It turns its side to the road in an “L” shape, cleverly creating a secret garden at the centre. Discretion is the catchword.  


Selina Ting
Editor – InitiArt Magazine
Paris, 6 October 2011