Meticulously indexed, Peter Downsbrough's (New Brunswick, 1940) artistic body of work is so extensive as to seem almost diffuse. Photographs, maps, sculptures, sound works, scale models, videos, typographic design... And yet, his is one of those extremely cohesive oeuvres – a mosaic of techniques and strategies perfected over decades as a means of exploring a relatively small set of ideas, which recur in each of those formats.
"In reality, it's all about lines," we joked with Downsbrough during the interview. And he quipped back, "In reality, it's all about space." Urban space, and the subtle interventions of its architectural elements, which Downsbrough carries out by applying imaginary frames, boundaries, and cuts that force us to rethink the everyday in terms of inside-outside, visible-invisible, symmetrical-asymmetrical, and before-after.
The five untitled photographic compositions from the late seventies and early eighties that are part of the MACBA Collection are good examples of this rigorous geometric exercise in the visual demarcation of space, but at the same they are just one aspect of what he calls his "vocabulary".
In this interview, Downsbrough takes these works as a point of departure to discuss the rest of his oeuvre, from his fascination with photography to his experiments with language, publications (as another space to explore), and the urbanistic peculiarities of two of the most frequent settings of his works: the cities of New York (where he began working as an artist at the start of his career in the sixties), and Brussels, where he has lived since 1989.