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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  April 22, 2011 12:00am-1:00am PDT

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>> rose: welcome to our program. we begin this evening talking with michelle flournoy, she is the undersecretary of defense for policy. >> we're only about a month into this. and his situation only gets worse over time. and so i think, you know, you add to that some of the cracks we see in the inner circle around him, some of the defections that are taking place, some of the inquiries people afternoon him are making about how do they get themselves and their families out of libya. >> rose: we continue with sculptor richard serra. >> there's something where you can concentrate continuously at the tip of your hand and not for an end product in itself but for the pure pleasure and excitement of seeing something come into being. whether it ends up on the floor or not. and it's something you can give
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time day after day to and it's an activity... i think you'll find it true of a lot of artists, that they go to drawing for grounding, for psychological grounding, for fantasy grounding, for poetic grounding. for material grounding. to root them in place. i think it's primary to artists. >> rose: flournoy and serra coming up. every time a storefront opens. or the midnight oil is burned. or when someone chases a dream, not just a dollar. they are small business owners. so if you wanna root for a real hero, support small business. shop small.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: michelle flournoy is with me here in washington. she is undersecretary of defense for policy at the pentagon. she works very closely with and is a close advisor to defense secretary bob gates. he has announced his plan to retire at the end of this year. michelle flournoy was instrumental in shapeing the administration's policy for afghanistan and pakistan. earlier this year she testified with general david petraeus before the senate arms services committee on the mission in afghanistan. they reported some progress but said that resent gains are fragile and reversible. i am pleased to have michelle flournoy back on this program as part of our continuing series
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looking at america overseas. welcome. >> thank you very much. it's good to be back. >> rose: there have been lots of reports of negotiations with the taliban. i had someone come to my program and talk about those negotiations, suggesting he thought they had a real possibility. do you believe they have real possibility? >> well, i think that any conflict has to have a political end game. and a political strategy to conclude it. and so i think as we change the security dynamics on the ground, one of the things that becomes more possible is a negotiated solution to this insurgency. >> rose: so if you make military gains it provides you the base to negotiate? >> yes. and that process, what we're terming reconciliation, where taliban fighters who would agree to the following principles: they would renounce al qaeda, they would renounce violence, and they would agree to abide by the afghan constitution. if they were willing to make those commitments, they could be
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reintegrated into afghan society. but it has to be an afghan-led process. >> rose: and they always say-- the taliban, when you read their statements-- they will never make an agreement as long as foreign forces are on the ground in afghanistan. >> well, i think we hear lots of different things from different people. but the truth is if you have... once you have a negotiated solution on terms that are acceptable to the afghan government and to us, the requirement for our presence will diminish over time. i mean, we are there to try to secure this core goal of disrupting, dismantling, defeating al qaeda, denying afghanistan as a safe haven. once the insurgency is severely degraded, the need for our presence will also go down. >> rose: mentioning safe haven, can you do this as long as the taliban have a safe haven in pakistan? >> i mean, this is a serious
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problem. we have... this is why we've looked at afghanistan and pakistan as part of an integrated whole. you have to work both sides of the border. we've invested a lot in a strategic partnership with pakistan. pakistan has stepped up in many areas of counterterrorism cooperation and more recently in launching their own counterinsurgency operations to clear out some of the border areas. that said, there's a lot more that needs to be done. and we need to... their cooperation in going after the full range of interrelated groups from al qaeda to all of their associates and affiliates. >> rose: with respect, my impression is there's tension wean the pakistanis and the united states because of drone attacks and other things. >> well, i don't want to comment on specific intelligence operations, but what i will say is we've gone through different periods, ups and downs in this relationship over time historically. there have been times when we've been very close allies, there have been times when there's
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been a lot of tension and distrust. in the last two years, this administration has invested an enormous amount in trying to build a stable strategic partnership with afghanistan. we have made some progress. recently... >> rose: with afghanistan or with snz. >> i'm sorry, with pakistan. we have made some progress, a lot of progress, frankly. but we've had some setbacks due to recent things like the ray davis case and so force. >> rose: exactly. >> but what are hope is that we have invested enough that this relationship has resilience to get back on its feet and moving forward again. >> rose: but when the i.s.i. general comes here to washington and meets with you and others, does he assure you they're prepared to do something about the haqqani network? >> well, this is a topic that we are discussing. we view al qaeda, haqqani, the taliban, these are all part of a syndicate of groups that help each other. the pakistanis tend to make finer distinctions between them.
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not being tolerant of some-- like al qaeda-- but otherwise tolerating others. we are trying to work with them to shift that perspective and shift that calculus. >> rose: are you saying the pakistani government is tolerant of the haqqani taliban? >> what i'm saying is they've been uneven in the pressure they've applied across this range of groups. what we're trying to do is convince pakistan that they, too, have a stake and a stable afghanistan in a stable region, in reasserting governance over their own territory. >> rose: what do they say? i mean, as long as you try to convince them that unless they do something about these territories then there can be no stability. >> you know, i think that they would like, ultimately, a situation where they asserted sovereignty and control over their territory.
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but they aren't in a position to do that right now. that's one of the things we are trying to help them with in terms of building their own capacity, not only on the military side but especially on the civilian side so that there's a government that can actually neat needs of its people. but this is a long-term project and they have had a history of using some different tactics than what we would like to see them doing now. and so this is an ongoing conversation. but we can not walk away from this. we don't have a choice here. this is a country is very important to us, that is very important to our success in the region. >> rose: basically you're saying we have to deal with the pakistanis because they're too important not to. >> absolutely. and there are many areas where we do share common interests and we can work together and we're going to keep focusing on this. >> rose: what's our pressure? what's our persuasion other than saying "it's in your interest to do this"? >> well, i think that one of the things the pakistanis have experienced themselves is that
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for congress to support the level of assistance that we provide to them-- both civilian and military-- certain expectations have to be met, whether it's cooperation in counterterrorism, whether it's abiding by human rights standards, whether it's dealing with the i.m.f. to making... to make economic reforms. there are things that i think undergird the ability of the international community to support them. and so we are very open in our dialogue with them, we're being very clear about the kinds of things that are necessary for us to be able to continue our support. >> rose: what's necessary for us to continue our support? >> well, i think, again, continued and improved cooperation across the range... >> rose: in order for us to continue our support, they have to show more cooperation on north waziristan and other places? >> on counterterrorism. i also think in other areas, as i said, you know, beyond the
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range of the department where i sit. in the economic domain there are a number of economic reforms we'd like to see them make to be able to be... have our economic assistance be more effective as well. >> rose: this question always comes up but my impression is-- and confirm this or not-- that the united states feels reasonably confident about how secure the nuclear weapons are in pakistan. >> i think we are satisfied that the pakistanis have taken a number of steps to ensuring that the nuclear arsenal they have is secure. >> rose: let me move to libya. what's the status on the ground there? >> well, i think there's... continues to be fighting between the rebel forces and the government. the government continues to lay siege to parts of its own population, in cities like misurata and others, which is deeply disturbing to us. >> rose: and using cluster bombs? >> and using cluster bombs from
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what we can tell. you know, we have to remember sort of why we went into this situation in the first place. we were facing a situation where qaddafi had already begun to massacre parts of his own population. we were very concerned about his forces overrunning benghazi, a city of 700,000 people, potential for massive bloodshed. and we had calls for parts of the libyan population, calls from the arab league, calls from the europeans and others to try to put a stop to qaddafi's ability to attack his own civilians. that was the original motivation for the no-fly zone, for the civilian protection... >> rose: and that was the u.n. resolution. >> and there was a u.n. resolution. and we had the full support of the u.n. security council to do that, full support of others, not only europeans but a number of arab states who've actually joined us as coalition partners
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in the operation. >> rose: people like qatar and other... >> qatar, u a e, jordan. >> rose: do they have troops on the ground? >> they're flying air missions with us. >> rose: so they're flying rather than putting boots on the ground? >> yes. and i think as generally conceived, the military operation will not involve boots on the ground per say. >> rose: by any government? >> by any government beyond some partners who are putting small numbers of advisors. >> rose: that would be the british and the french? >> the british and the french, yes. >> rose: how does this end? what's the end game? >> well, i think you have to look beyond the... today's tactical military situation and look at the broader situation. you have cad nee has lost legitimacy in the eyes of his population, in the eyes of the international community. he's now under very rigorous sanctions regime, something the u.s. alone has frozen something like $35 billion of his assets. >> rose: of his or the libyans
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or both? >> the libyan government. sort of the same thing given his style of governance. >> rose: yes, indeed. >> you have everyone from the e.u. to the arab league calling for a peaceful transition process where he steps down and allows far new form of governance to emerge that is responsive to the libyan people. >> rose: so if he says "i'll step down and allow for a new form of government" he could stay in libya? >> well, i think that's to be determined in negotiations that the opposition and the libyan government and the international community would be involved in. but we've made very clear that, you know, the sort of terms of... not we the united states, we the international community. the terms of a cease-fire that needs to be in place and the steps that would have to be taken to enable a discussion of transition. but if you... you know, we're only about a month into this. and his situation only gets worse over time. and so i think, you know, you add to that some of the cracks we see in the inner circle
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around him, some of the defections that are taking place, some of the inquiries that people around him are making about how do they get themselves and families out of libya and you have a situation where we expect to see his situation degrade over time and regardless of... even if there's a fairly stalemated military situation, i think the overall situation remains dynamic and time is actually on our side, not his. >> rose: there was a peace in the "new york times" by david sangier suggesting the united states was talking to african nations trying to find a place he might go to. >> well, i don't want to comment on the good work of my friends at the state department, but i think there are lots of people having lots of conversations trying to find a way out for him. trying to give him a way to step down, a way to name right choice. >> rose: and when you say "him" you mean him and his family? >> qaddafi and his family. >> rose: and his sons. so who has a good relationship
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with him? is the turkish government involved in this? are they speaking with him directly trying to have influence? >> you know, i don't want to comment on details of that. but there are a number of countries who historically have had very close ties to libya. the turks, the italians, a number of the arab countries. and i think there are many conversations going on trying to convince him to do the right thing. >> rose: did the fact that we were engaged in iraq with u.s. forces, that we were engaged in afghanistan have anything to do with our reluck took place do more in libya? was it in the end an overextension of american military power? >> no, i wouldn't characterize it as that. i think when... you know, when the president and secretary gates and the other principals thought through this issue, we were very... they were very clear on... >> rose: "we" would be the right word. >> they were very clear eyed about assessing our interest in libya in the context of everything that's going on in the middle east where we have... you know, there are a number of
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countries where we have truly vital interests at stake. and i think the assessment was that there were other countries-- particularly as this became a nato operation-- that have a lot of capability to bring to bear that were willing to take a leadership role, that it was a good thing for the alliance to have a non-u.s. lead and a strong alliance operation, and this the u.s. was positioned to provide unique capabilities that would really make a difference. but it was great that others were willing and able to step up and take a lead. >> rose: but some believe now that the capabilities of the british government and the french government-- their military operations-- does not even compare with the possibilities of what the united states could do. and that if the united states was involved the end might come faster. >> i think that's a... that does not accord with the actual military realities on the ground. >> rose: fair enough. you would know. >> we are in very close daily touch with the nato commanders involved and the u.s. continues
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to supply a number of capability in unique areas where we really do make a difference. intelligence surveillance reconnaissance. refueling aircraft. jamming. electronic jamming and so forth. so where we can make a unique contribution we're doing that. but there's not a capacity problem per say. there hasn't been a day when the nato commanders said "if i only had more u.s. strike aircraft i could have been more effective on the ground." that's not the case. >> rose: what do we know about the rebels? >> well, it's a mixture of people. many of them have had experience in government before as former ministers. a number of them are prominent leaders of civic society. there are a number on the military side that are actually defectors, they switched side from the regime once it began attacking the population, they couldn't abide it and they switched sides. so it is a mix. but we are still learning about
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who they are. but, frankly, i think we've been very impressed by the way they've handled themselves diplomatically, the kind of vision they have for the libya of... that they want to see in the future. the kind of political process they're trying to set up in terms of drafting a new constitution, creating representative bodies and so forth. so, you know, i think that... you know, we... we so far have found them to be a very impressive set of characters. >> rose: what are the lessons of the arab spring? >> i think that the real lesson is that we've long seen some real structural tensions in the middle east between the demographics of these societies and their growing desire for freedom and political representation and the nature of some of the regimes that have been there in the region over
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time. and i think what's become clear to us is that the only way to restore or maintain stability in the region going forward is through the path of economic and political reform, to reconnect some of these populations with their government. >> rose: do you worry about the outcome of that process and that someone could hijack the process? >> well, yes. i mean, there's always a concern that if you rush to elections before the sort of elements of civil society are in place you could get a bad outcome. we saw that in gaza where, you know, elections brought in hamas and then that's the last time they'll have elections. so elections can be a vehicle for bringing in undemocrattic elements. but i think in egypt what we've seen is a remarkable resilience in their civic society, even though it's not very organized yet. and we're watching them go through a process of starting to organize themselves into political parties, starting to sort of figure out how they're
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going to contest one another in these first parliamentary elections and then presidential elections. >> rose: what will be... or can you imagine circumstances in which this will be a... an al ternive to what al qaeda tries to do? that coming out of the arab spring might very well be an alternative to al qaeda that will provide in some sense great damage to their future? >> yes. i think that what's happening in a place like egypt is completely antithetical to al qaeda's vision. al qaeda has always said that, you know, they speak for the broader islamic community. that the path towards self-realization is jihad. what we're seeing in egypt is people choose a different path. it's a path that chooses freedom
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of expression, that chooses more democratic forms of political representation, that chooses a more secular path where... and a greater religious tolerance and so forth. so i think the more successful these peaceful political movements are throughout the middle east, the less credible al qaeda's narrative will be. >> rose: syria. when we watch what's happening, increased demonstrations in the street, some acts of retaliation against them, would you stand by and watch and see what happens or do we have any leverage? >> well, i think here again we are in dialogue with a number of interested parties and here again we think that the path forward is through political and economic reform. and, frankly, i think syria has a more fundamental choice which is it has had sort of an unnatural alliance with iran in recent years.
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>> rose: right. >> which we believe really isn't in its best interest. syria is more naturally and historically aligned with the arab community. it's been more secular, it's been less radical. and so forth. and we think there's an opportunity for syria to break its alignment with iran, realign with the gulf countries, and actually potentially open itself up to a peace process. >> rose: how is iran trying to take advantage of all of this? >> you know, it's ironic because iran is trying to take advantage they are trying to be champions of democratic change, which, you know, when the put the picture of tahrir square in egypt and the kind of protests-- peaceful protests-- that happen there had and how the protestors were treated against what happens when people protest in tehran and the way they are beaten and often killed and/or arrested,
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you could haven't a more stark contrast. and so i think there's great hypocrisy when iran talks about championing democracy and political change in the region given how they treat the calls for democracy at home. >> rose: but how do they try to exercise that leverage beyond the rhetoric? >> so they are... we do see them trying to take advantage of the situation, trying to make contact with different opposition groups, trying to flow money into some of these countries. >> rose: to support the rebels in every case? >> yes. to generally support the shi'a population more to many cases other opposition groups. >> rose: especially in bahrain. >> trying to gain influence, yes. but i think, again, in many cases the opposition groups are somewhat reluctant to get too close to iran knowing, you know, where that path leads and knowing that that... getting close with iran could close off other relationships that they may deem more important, such as
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with the united states, with the west, with the rest of the arab community. >> rose: even though iran is not arab, could the arab spring come to iran and build on the protest that was in the streets protesting against the election results? >> rose: i think we would all like to see a day when the iranian people really get to choose their form of government. but i think it will take time before the conditions... >> rose: you see nothing on the ground that suggests that might erupt in tehran? >> you never know. i mean, i think their economy is in vary dire shape. >> rose: not withstanding the oil they have. >> i think the oil they have and the price... the increase in prices have helped build a cushion but they are under very strong sanction. they are having trouble cushioning the impact of that with continued subsidies. their economy survives on a very weak foundation. and, you know, just below the
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surface there's a lot of public discontent. but, you know, i think... i would be loathe to predict exactly what would happen in tehran in the coming months. >> rose: sitting where you do, what's the biggest challenge for you and for the secretary of defense? >> there are a couple of challenges. one is that as uncertain and dynamic as the current environment is, you know, you could go through your day and simply deal with the tyranny of the inbox just to survive. but if we're... if you're really going to make sure we're protecting and advancing american interests, you know, we have to make sure that we're giving the future a seat at the table. that we're trying to always find room to step back, look over the horizon, think more strategically about the things that aren't nipping at our heels today. and that's, i think, the biggest challenge in government right now. >> rose: to see it or to know what to do once you see it?
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>> both, both. and so you have to protect some of your resources to really be devoted to that. to sort of fence them off, if you will. from the day to day. to be doing that tray a strategic thinking. >> rose: and when you do that, when you try to look beyond the horizon what do you see? and where is it that the united states in the employment of its diplomat zi and its military needs to make relationships in order to protect national interests in the future? whether it's an issue or a country. >> right. i think that, you know, bringing a number of the things that we're engaged in today to successful conclusion is very important. but looking out ten years, 20 years, i think a lot of our attention needs to be focused on asia. we have fundamentally changing landscapes. the rise of india, the world's largest democracy. we have the rise of china, a very powerful and growing... >> rose: and by 2030 at least
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may be the largest economy. >> and our own economy ever more dependent on trade, commerce, what's happening in asia. and so that is the long view. that's the long game. and so even as we focus on dealing with terrorism, we focus on dealing with turmoil in the middle east, we focus on dealing with afghanistan and so forth, we have to keep at least one eye on positioning the united states to have influence and to be able to safeguard our interests in arab long term. >> rose: your impression is that the world wants the united states-- especially in asia-- to do what? >> i think that the majority of the countries in asia still view the united states as a stabilizing influence and presence. we remain security partner of choice. they want to make sure that as this shift in the dynamics occurs, that there's some... there's a u.s. presence that is
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helping to maintain stability amidst all that change. that's been our role for the last 50, 60 years, and they want that to continue. >> rose: there are those who suggest that when you look at afghanistan and where american forces are, they're also in iraq. >> uh-huh. >> rose: can iraq be a long-term strategic friend of the united states in the region? >> i believe it will be. >> rose: and so... why? >> because i think that you have a situation where the iraqis have now bought into trying to deal with their differences through the political process instead of civil war. i think you have systems in place that as frustrating as they can be, they are actually making democracy work. and i think that iraq will ultimately become reintegrated
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into the middle east community as a democracy. and, you know, i think what our job has been is to create the possibility of that. >> rose: do we communicate to them we think they're a great nation and this we think that they're an important relationship for the united states? >> absolutely. we have signed a security agreement with them that says even after our troops come out at the end of this year we will stay engaged with them diplomatically, economically, politically, and in terms of providing security assistance and equipment and training to their growing forces we're going to stay with iraq as a partner for the very long term. >> rose: is there any possibility looking amade nations-- and i think of people like... governments like saudi arabia-- might say "we're not completely happy with the way things have gone in the arab spring, arab renaissance" some
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say. "and so therefore we're looking for other relationship in addition to the united states and so we're going become closer to china." >> we don't see that. our conversations with our close allies, the saudis, the u.a.e., bahrain, others, they... we understand that the long term partnership we've had with them is based on some pretty fundamental and shared interests i think that that is not questioned by any of the parties. the issue is how to get... manage the current situation, get back to stability. our feeling has been you have to go through a process of political reform and economic reform to get there. and so when there have been differences, they've been differences over short-term tactics, not the fundamental foundation of shared strategic interests. >> rose: and one thing is clear that this arab spring has... the message has been heard by every government
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everywhere. >> rose: i think that's... >> i think that's true. >> rose: in terms of the need for paying attention to reform. >> absolutely. and that's a good thing. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> thank you very much. >> rose: richard serra is here. he is, as you know, an artist, he is a sculptor and he is a friend of this program. he is best known for his large-scale sculptures such as his torqued ellipsis. less well known is the crucial role that drawing has played in all of his work. roberta smith of the "new york times" writes "few artists have pushed drawing to such sculptural and even architectural extremes as richard serra." the first retrospective of serra's drawings mounted by an american museum is currently on view as new york's metropolitan museum of art. it features 50 works from the 1970s to the present. it traces the development of drawing as an art form independent from yet also linked to his sculptural process. i'm very pleased to have richard serra back at this table. welcome. >> thanks. >> rose: why is this the first
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time there has been this kind of survey of your drawings at a major museum? >> i've been drawing all my life and i've probably had drawing shows in europe and the united states and so people who follow the work closely know the drawings, but the larger public-- and i even think probably the largest art public-- doesn't know the history of my drawing. and i think it's largely to do with the san franciscan museum and the museum in houston, they decided to mount an exhibition and they asked if metro poll tan would participate and the metropolitan said yes they would like to do it first. so we're doing it here. >> rose: so it was an idea conceived by other museums? >> it was conceived by texas... >> rose: and san francisco joined in and the met said if you let us go first you can do it here. >> that's exactly right. >> rose: do you take special pride that at long last richard
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serra is at the met? >> i didn't expect to be at the met. >> rose: i know! >> and i'm glad the met came on board and i'm particularly happy with the show. >> rose: they have a lot of space up there. we could do a sculpture show there, couldn't we? >> we could. we'd have to move out the greek and romans because they probably have sufficient weight load there. >> rose: (laughs) you'd be okay with that? >> fine. the met... very early my career henry g.e.d. zoeller when i was not even 30 asked me if i wanted to show five or six early pieces at the met and i said know because i thought i was too young. >> rose: you were too young to be at the met? >> yeah. >> rose: as an artist? >> yes. >> rose: let me just get this picture straight. this was a kind of modest richard serra. >> i had just started working and i'd done a series of big steel prop pieces and henry saw them and said "let's show them at the met." and i said "i don't think so." >> rose: do we view these drawings as simply... as part of the sculpture you do or do we view these drawings as separate pieces of art?
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>> it's an autonomous body of work that doesn't depict or illustrate my sculpture other than at the very, very beginnings before i even showed drawings i showed a few here or there but not as a show, not as a one-man show. and then there's some drawings in the show that i've never shown before. i think the problem for anyone in relation to making drawings is the convention of drawing. it's a figure ground problem. you're going to make a mark on a page or on a piece of paper. and how do you deal with that construct and extend it and redefine what that problem can be? >> rose: roberta smith writing of you in the "new york times" in a piece i assume you liked... not entirely. >> rose: (laughs) what didn't you like? >> well, actually, she said one thing that i think is probably true. >> rose: only one? >> well, one thing she said that was critical this which i think probably true. she said "in his drawings, unlike his sculpture, the work is more abstract, more hermetic,
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more difficult and more austere austere." >> rose: what she said was "more austere, abstract, hermetic difficult artist in drawing than sculpture." >> well, i was close. >> rose: you were close. would you agree with that? >> yes, but i think that's a virtue. >> rose: to be austere, abstract, hermetic and difficult? >> yes! i think art is difficult. >> rose: it has to be done. >> yes, and i think... >> rose: if it doesn't challenge you. >> yes and i think she's saying that because she's saying a sculpture has become over the years more acceptable and people have been able to enter into it. well, in these drawing installations people enter into them. they enter into the space of the drawing because it deals with the delineation of the architecture. i think in this review she was finding that not as inviting as it is in the sculpture and i think that kind of cross
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reverent comparison-- not that it's a cheap shot-- it's just wrong headed. >> rose: your notebooks are in this as well. >> yes and i've never shown them before and i carry them all the time. >> rose: may i see it? >> no. >> rose: why not? >> because i don't show my notebooks and i... >> rose: really? i think i just saw 30 of them up there. not me but... >> i made a selection to show 30. >> rose: can i just see what it looks like? >> yeah, sure. >> rose: why not? why not? >> okay. there's one. >> rose: there you go. >> you'll like that one. i made this one at the met. >> rose: these are just draw ings... these are drawings? >> they're things to keep my hand and eye... i think the eye is a muscle you have to keep active and i've dealt with hand-eye coordination all my life. it's another kind of language for me and i think to see is to think and drawing's another way of thinking. >> are you better at that because of the experience you've
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had at hand eye coordination. >> better at that than what? >> rose: when you were when you started out? >> i've done it since i was four. >> rose: but you have been good at it since you were four and that hasn't changed? >> i do it as a practice. it's something i do everyday. you know different people have... >> rose: it's a muscle you use everyday. >> different people have a way of staying in tune with the communication of the world. how you make your way in the world. you do it through your voice, through your interviews. >> rose: yes. >> i do it through self-reflection, notation and drawing and the drawings are kind of notation. >> rose: if anybody wants to put me in the same sentence with richard serra, i'll take it! (laughs). >> charlie, you're there. don't worry about it. >> rose: let's take "union." that was done specifically for this. >> yes. >> rose: tell me about that. >> there are two canvasses that are 13 x 9 wide. they're into the corners of the room to the floor and up to the ceiling. >> rose: right. >> and when you enter into the
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space of the drawing you actually can pal panly feel the difference between the container of space, a larger container of the room, and the space that you walk into that is walled off by the two vertical planes of the drawing. there's something else that happens in that drawing that's strange that we didn't realize until after and it wasn't intended. because the black canvases absorb so much light, as you walk into them and the viewer looks at you from the outside-- not a lot-- but you diminish proportionately in scale because there's not equal light on you. and there's a strange kind of double-take when that happens. we all noticed it as soon as the work went up. but that wasn't the intention of the work. >> rose: the intention of the work was... >> to create a volume of space within the architectural volume of space that was different in kind. >> rose: is space the best thing you understand? >> i think so, yes. for sure. i always have. it's always been what i've been
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most curious about. >> rose: curious about and understand most. >> i think if you are curious, it leads you to understanding. i mean, the way i got into curves was i looked at one and i thought "oh, here's a big wide con cavity." and i took a walk around the edge and i thought "here's a convexity which i don't understand at all and i need to keep walking around it until i understand what it is." yet from this side to that side it was a whole other world and that piqued my interest because i realized i didn't know anything about it. and very simple things that i don't understand i think are the things that i'm the most inquisitive about. and space is one of them. and i'm not talking about the simple distinction between telephone booth and a football stadium. i'm talking about just simple organizations of space. mapping. circulation. how your body feels in relation to, say, this room, the enclosure of this room, how you kneel an open space, how i felt in the lobby of this building
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which is a kind of airport irregularity where you don't know where the hell you are. it's true! >> rose: i assume the architect would take pride in that. >> well, there's not much sinceny out there. >> rose: when you walk in the door? >> you don't know. you think "when is the next flight taking off?" >> rose: so where does drawing come in. >> it's an autonomous body of work and i've tried to redefine in the terms of my needs in articulating space. i don't start with a drawing. >> rose: you don't? >> no, i start with a model. i don't make drawings of my sculpture. i start with a model and i work models and i rework models. if i make drawings that deal with my sculpture at all, it's after the fact or when they're going up where i see details or parts but i don't illustrate or depict my sculpture. >> rose: it would surprise you to know that... >> in fact, in drawing what i really wanted to get away from early on was anecdotal references to other things. i wanted to drawing in and of
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itself to be interesting. i didn't want to do representational drawing. that's what i do in my notations but i don't consider them... they're notations. the notebooks are notations, not works of art. this little drawing i just showed you from mexico, third century whatever, that's a notation, not a work of art. >> rose: is drawing a learned skill? >> yes, absolutely. for sure. >> rose: but you had a certain natural ability. >> yes, and my parents reinforced it and that breeds confidence. i mean, if you're given pats on the back it breeds confidence, you want to do more. and that's been the case for most of my life, actually. >> rose: you had confidence and you wanted to do more. but confidence from outside... praise? or confidence from people who were your mentors and your parents and your friends? >> not only my mentors and my parents, but i think one of the reasons i got into graduate school is i sent them 12 drawings and i had an undergraduate degree in english and they accepted me on 12 drawings. drawing is something i've always done and i've always taken it
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seriously as an end in and of itself. as a thing you can make... >> rose: it's an autonomous sning. >> if you look at artists and you want to really understand the subtext of how they think, look at their drawings. look to seurat's drawings, look to matisse's drawings. >> rose: and i would see a subtext to how they think? >> look ativan go's drawings. i can tell you the show at the met of a couple years ago of van gogh's drawings were much more interesting than haze paintings. he had to invent a dot in order to make a bush. and he had to invent a line in order to make a branch. and if you go there, you're mesmerized by the mark making. >> rose: but do you think those drawings were a thing of themselves? >> yes. >> rose: or you think that somehow were connected to a piece of art, a painting, that he finished? >> subsequently he made paintings that have to do with those drawings. >> rose: indeed. >> in part. sometimes not. but the drawings in and of themselves have a different kind of marking because of the
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material and the matter than the paint does. >> rose: but do you think in the head of you or in the head of van gogh that they were... drawing had to... hand to... you know, and then thinking this goes over here, this is a separate piece of art, now i'm going to go over here and sculpt it. >> rose: i don't do that. i mean, a lot of people make drawings first of what they're going to make their sculpture like. >> rose: and architects do, too, and i know you think of architects as artists. >> for sure. we won't go there. but a lot of very good sculptors make drawings first of what they're going to make as sculpture. >> rose: yes! >> and then go make the sculpture. that's not how i work. i'm pa model maker. >> rose: so you go from model to sculpture? >> yes. >> rose: maybe you've been thinking about an idea for a piece of sculpture and you might sketch it just to see, get a feel for it. and you're saying no, i would don't that. what i would do is go get some paper or something and... >> rose: lead. >> lead because of what you work
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with. >> rose: that's amazing to me. because drawings are so central to you. >> no. because... i think you're thinking of image. and i don't draw image, i draw space. so i don't describe an image. and i think you're thinking of the sculpture reduced to an image that you can coherently draw. >> rose: fair enough. does sculpture have visibility? >> not from any one position if it's any good. if it's any good you really have to move to understand it. it's three dimensional, it's not flat like a paintings. that's what differentiates it from a painting. you have to move and think what you're seeing as it moves. sculpture moves as you move. it creates volume and space. it's not a flat illusion. it's very, very different than making an image. it's different... it's different fundamentally. it's in the space of your space. it's not in the space of the illusion on the wall. you become the subject of your experience as you're experiencing it. it's not just... >> rose: you become the subject of your experience as you are experiencing. >> yes!
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which is different than looking at say san's apples which are the subject matter of the painting. cezanne. >> rose: right. is that what makes sculpture so attractive for you? >> once it got off the pedestal, yes. >> rose: absolutely. we know when it got off the pedestal. but that was the defining moment for you, getting it off the pedestal. >> yes. >> rose: you saw your future intoer in that moment. >> i don't know about my future. that's a little pretentious. >> rose: okay. and we wouldn't want to be pretentious. you saw your... >> possibilities. >> rose: where you wanted to go. >> yes. >> rose: you saw your exploration. >> i thought once the object dissolved into the field it was wide open. >> rose: you could do more, feel more, experience more, have more. >> not me, everyone else. >> rose: no, no, the art. >> yes. >> rose: okay. what was this thing about you and a child and... what was it... butcher paper? >> paper was expensive, it was right after the war and they used to wrap the meat in this pink butcher paper. >> rose: right. >> and. .. >> rose: where are we? >> we here in san francisco and
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i'm five or six years old and we lived in the sand dunes and next to us was a family and recently a stoptor told his brother henry that richard has had become a sculptor and henry said "that doesn't surprise me, i remember him taking the rolls of butcher paper, unfurling it on the street and making drawings." and that's what i did. >> rose: when did you start carrying a notebook? >> undergraduate school university of california santa barbara. >> rose: do you have like, 5,000 like that? >> hundreds. >> rose: hundreds of them. >> i'll probably give them yale. >> rose: is yale going to be the recipient? >> i haven't ever said this before but i went to yale and it helped me a lot and for sure i think i'll probably give the notebooks to yale. i think they're to be studied and i think jail a good place for them to be studied. >> rose: and what about the sculpture themselves? >> the sculpture is mostly in a place, you can can't give them to any institution. >> rose: i know. i know. i know that but i thought maybe
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there were models... >> some artists make shrines of themselves and build museums. i'm not interested in that. >> rose: what are you interested of in terms of... >> the next work. >> rose: the next work? >> always. >> rose: but do you have any sense of legacy and place in art? >> no, no. once you start talking about legacy you're looking over your shoulder. >> rose: and you're looking straight ahead. >> yeah. >> rose: straight ahead. and is it changing? is it what you want to do? changing from everything you've done up to this moment? >> i have opportunities to build right now and that makes me happy. >> rose: opportunities to build huge... well, yes, absolutely. >> rose: it makes you happy. but is it going to be... will we see a continuum in that? >> i think in retrospect you'll always make a continuum. >> rose: yeah, i know. but are they there, snow. >> >> in part because... >> rose: you can look at a lot of your work and say this begat that begat that. >> yeah, but there are breaks where they come out of a mood that you can't foresee.
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i have my tool books, there's certain things i work with, i work with steel. i mean... >> rose: what is this picture? >> that's me with a brick of paint stick making a drawing. >> rose: that's what that is? >> yes. >> rose: it shows you when we talk about drawings we're talking about drawings? >> yes. i started by using crayons and the crayons were paints to crayons and they had a sleeve around them made of cardboard and it was incredibly tedious to take these sleeves off and mark each canvas, it would take days. and i... i called the first one abstract slavery it would take so long. then we decided let's just melt the crayons down into bread pans and make bricks out of them so we can use them with both arms. >> rose: when did you... >> i think this. i think if artists are... the ones i find interesting make up their own tools and make up their own procedures. i'll give you an example. pollock's drip. i could give you other examples. seurat's crayon.
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because i think if... audrey lord said it really well. she said you're not going to dismant it will master's house by using the master's tools. that means you're not going to build art out of the art store. >> rose: right, right. >> you have to invent your own tools and procedures. that's very difficult to get into art students' heads. because they want to work out of what's come before and they want to use the tools that are prevalent and they want to use the other person's tools. where the other person probably made up his tools. >> rose: does the same impulse... is it... that drives you, your drawings, drive your sculpt dismur impulse. >> no. no. the drawing is really a practice that i do all the time. the sculpture actually is more conceptually based than that. the drawing is really something that i... >> rose: the drawing is a day by day expression of richard serra? >> it's a practice. and it's a practice i try to take into other forms but it's something i do all the time. >> rose: and the drawings are in the notebooks.
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>> the notations are in the notebooks and the notations sometimes lead to ideas about larger drawings. but often if i'm given a possibility of given a possibility of dealing with the context, sites are the impetus for making drawings. >> rose: you're pretty good with the english language. do you ever want to write about sculpture? >> i have. >> rose: you like it? >> i find it difficult. >> rose: that's what i thought. >> the last think i wrote, i wrote... when louise bourgeois died i wrote something. >> rose: yes, right. >> i enjoyed it but it took me a while. writing for she a process of rewriting. i'm not a natural writer. so i have to write and rewrite and write and rewrite. i majored in english literature and at one point i thought maybe that would be an open possibility but i don't want to turn the german language in order to go to graduate school in order to major in literature. >> rose: (laughs) that was not what you wanted to do. the idea of being an artist, a writer, sculpture, painter or drawing was there early. that sense of this is what makes
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me... turns me on. >> well, i think as a young child... >> rose: in the way story telling turns me on. >> what it does is it individuates you. you find out there's something singular that you can do that gives you feedback and fulfillment and joy that nothing else does. and it's something where you can concentrate continuously at the tip of your hand and not for an end product in itself but for the fewer pleasure... pure pleasure and excitement of seeing something come into being. whether it ends up on the floor or not. and it's something you can give time day after day to. and it's an activity. i think you'll find it true of a lot of artists that they go to drawing for grounding, for psychological grounding, for fantasy grounding, for poetic grounding, for... for material grounding, to root them in place. i think it's primary to artists. >> rose: okay, take a look at this. that is what? >> when i first did "circuit" in
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'72, which were four points coming out of four corners, i just took a pad of paper, walked around the periphery of the room and marked the edges of the plates as i saw them as they open and closed to my vision. and i never showed them. and i didn't... i've never shown them. and this retrospective came up and gary a girl son in the san francisco museum looked at them and said "we should show these." and i said "okay, why not." >> rose: this is number two. what's that? >> this is... i work at gemini's print shop in los angeles and i watched them roll everyday ink on copper plates to make prints. and i thought why don't i just take the ink itself and take the roller and make a drawing just with the ink and the roller? and i said how am i going go about doing this? and i thought why don't i do it in on saturday. and i took 14 sheets of paper, i said i'll roll seven times on one side and none on the other. six on one side and one on the
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other. five on one side and two on the other until we got seven on seven and then we reversed the process so that the last one ends up to be the reverse of the first one where it's white on one side and seven on the other. now that's a very serial proposition that has to do with just paying attention, unlike that drawing of circuit where i'm looking at what i'm doing. here i'm just looking at the process of what i'm making. i could careless about what it looks like. i'm just staying faith to feel that process. when we finished the whole thing we looked at it and said "oh, this is interesting." someone came along and bought them, i never saw them again. five of them were shone. co-mar ski, who's a very good collector, bought them and gave them the museum of modern art. and the museum of modern art lent them to this show. i hadn't seen them since i did them. >> rose: put your life in context for me. from the time you were using the paper as a kid out there that came from the butcher to where
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you are now and through all the exhibitions at go goesian, seems like every time i turn around there's a serra exhibition... >> rose: ... >> we're doing one in september. >> rose: yes, i know. yes, i know. we'll be there, too. we're nothing if not loyal and appreciative of great art. so when you look at the arc of a life, is there there anything that you have not done that you feel like it's a place you haven't visited? it's a... something that lives in your mind but has not been tasted, touched, visited? >> no, i think work comes out of work. and i think you have to keep working to know what that place and space is. >> rose: exactly. >> i think the anticipation of the next work comes from the last work. i don't think there are any big quantum leaps. i don't think it happens that way. you don't sit around waiting for aspiration. >> rose: i don't think you sit around for anything. and you only discover by doing. >> that's right. that's exactly right. >> rose: it's been a remarkable time. thank you.
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great to see you. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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