At the Museum Ludwig retrospective, you’ve eschewed chronology in favour of a thematic hanging. Why?
It was the building that refused the chronological show, since some paintings need particular walls to be shown against. From there the exhibition could develop in a more unusual way, picking up lots of loose conceptual threads and temporarily making thematic narratives, or performing a more conventional pedagogical function. I also needed to figure out a way to keep myself interested in looking at all this old work, because this kind of retrospective thinking can sometimes get a little bit boring.
Some of your more recent exhibitions have had more personal titles than is usually your wont – for exampleSiamo Arrivati (Madre, Naples), Fire and Fury (Francesca Pia, Zürich), Patagonia (Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York) or Natural Wine (Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris)...
Siamo Arrivati was a banner ad on the website of Il Mattinoabove a story about the Campi Flegrei super volcano re- awakening at the same time as the first McDonalds opened in Naples, which coincided with my arrival in the city for a residency. Patagonia, Fire and Fury, and Natural Wine had literal origins, but they also had a good sound to them. Ned was wearing a Patagonia T-shirt in one of the paintings and an ad for the Michael Wolff book about Trump shows up in several of the Zürich paintings. We were drinking a lot of natural wine that winter, and it felt like a dumb controversial title for an exhibition in Paris. They all captured the atmos- phere in the studio and in New York.
When I saw you working on exhibitions in Dijon and Geneva, I was fascinated by the fact that a very important part of your work is about selecting the right pieces for the shows. What guides you?
The artworks and the spaces tell you what to do, so listening sometimes helps.
At the same time, you were preparing your catalogue for the Brandhorst Museum exhibition, for which you decided to use a computer algorithm to place the pictures in the layout. But the programme generated several permutations and you still had to choose...
It was a brilliant idea from the designer Eric Wrenn. I guess he just observed some kind of algorithmic process already happening in the studio – the paintings are moving around regularly, creating unplanned arrangements. It also made the design process much easier: that book was really mas- sive and we were on a very tight deadline, so we had no time to overthink the layout design.