tv Charlie Rose PBS April 27, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
seems to be so huge, particularly in political arenas, in a way in which power and authority is broadcast and in the means by which we construct that power. so to me the flowers are representative of that pattern and it's about those ways in which we decorate ourselves to create a certain sense of control. >> rose: barack obama and taryn simon, when we continue. captioning sponsored by rose communications
from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, a conversation with president barack obama. the interview follows our sit down in the white house last week. this took place in hanover, germany, in which the president attended an industrial affair with angela merkel? london he had lunch with the queen, dinner with a future king, and then played golf with the prime minister and celebrated shakespeare. in riyadh, met with leaders of the gulf council and talked about i.s.i.l and riern and in london made a clear case for print to stay in the european union. i spoke with the president about the visit and the matters discussed including some of the things he said in his speech in hanover. here is that conversation.
>> good to see you. >> rose: someone told you this is a trip with your three favorite ladies. >> i enjoyed spending time with all of them. >> rose: you ever done such an elegant walk and talk except in the white house? >> it's the most elegant i have been a part of in a long time. >> rose: let's talk about the announcement you're sending for 250 special forces to syria. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: what does that represent? >> it represents what i've said from the start which is that us dismantling i.s.i.l is a priority and, although we are not going to be sending ground troops in to fight, we are going to try to find out what works and then double down, and one of the things that's worked so far is us putting special forces in for training and advising local
forces and also intelligence gathering. one of the challenges of mounting a fight against a group like i.s.i.l that embeds itself with civilian forces, they're not isolated, they're not out in remote areas where we can hit them on their own. so having people who develop relationships with local tribes, with people who may be going in and out of places like raqqa, us being able to distinguish between those whom we can and can't work with, that's all important. >> rose: will they be engaged in any search and kill missions? >> i'm not going to go into details of the all the mission sets that they're involved with. as a general rule, the rule is not to engage directly with the enemy but rather to work with local forces that's consistent with our overall policy throughout. >> one question about the g.c.c. you have made it clear that you wanted to go there and reassure
them and also talk about iran, how you can both be aggressive in monitoring and, at the same time, open them up to diplomacy. did something come out of this meeting on that point? >> there is no doubt that there is good reason to be suspicious about iran. they have been a state sponsor of terror. they have tried to destabilize some of their g.c.c. neighbors. they support organizations like hezbollah that threaten israel and have engaged in terrorist acts against the united states. but the argument that i have made to them is that, within iran, there are forces that recognize the need to engage the world in a more constructive way. they're not liberals. they're not friends of america. >> rose: moderate? but they're more practical and more moderate. and then there are hard liners.
and what we should be doing is setting up a collective response to any agg change. i think if we're going to solve problems like syria, if we're going to make progress in yemen where now have cessation of hostilities, it makes sense for those g.c.c. countries to not necessarily trust iran but at least open up a dialogue and a channel with them where interests of both sides can be met and we can reduce the sectarianism that unfortunately is feeding a lot of the violence in the middle east. >> rose: let me pivot to china. how aggressive do you see the action in the south china sea
and do you worry that they will cross some line in which you will have to respond more aggressively? >> i have been consistent since i have been president in believing that a productive, candid relationship between the united states and china is vital not just to our two countries but to world peace and security, and generally we have been able to establish those kind of channels and work through a series of tensions. i have repeatedly said to the chinese got that we welcome a continued, peaceful rise of china. one of the arguments that i make in the united states is that we have a lot more to fear from a weak, disintegrating, paranoid china that can't absorb, you know, hundred hundreds of millif people who might slip back into poverty, we're a lot better off with a china who feels
confident -- >> rose: not a zero sum game. it's not a zero sum game. what is true, though, is they have a tendency to view some of the immediate regional issues or disputes as a zero sum game. so with respect to the south china sea, rather than operate under international norms and rules, their attitude is we're the biggest kids around here and we're going to push aside the philippines or the vietnam. >the -- the vietnamese. >> rose: and how do you respond? >> the argument to them is we're not claimants. we're not choosing sides here. what we are trying to uphold is a basic notion of interpretational rules, norms and order and, for example, if the filipinos appeal to international tribunals under the law of the sea which china and the philippines are
signatories too, that's a way to resolve a dispute, not by sending out a gunship or threatening fishermen. this is an area where, ironically, china's actions have actually pushed a lot of the neighbors towards us. i mean, if you think about vietnam, i'm going to be traveling there next month, given the history between our two countries, the fact that right now we are far more popular in china than vietnam, and there is a strategic pivot that they're engaged in, partly economic because of the trans-pacific partnership, partly because of their concerns and the desire to balance power between us and china. i think that's both an opportunity for us, but it doesn't mean that we're trying to act against china, we just want them to be partners with us, and where they break out of international rules and norm also, we're going to hold them
to account. >> rose: and how do you do that? >> well, there will be a variety of diplomatic mechanisms. they care about what we think. they're not looking to pick a fight either. we do have to understand their politics and their systems, and we're not looking for any rash actions of any sort, but what we have been able to do is to send a clear message to them that the international community is on the side of resolving these disputes peacefully. >> rose: let me take you to britain where, like any other american tourist, had breakfast, had lunch with the queen, dinner with the future king, played golf with the prime minister and celebrated shakespeare's 400th birthday at "the globe" theater and then caused some controversy because you said to them, britain is better in the european union because britain
in the european union can do more. >> mm-hmm. >> rose: are they responsive to that, the citizens of britain, where you are held in high regard? >> ultimately, this is up to them. i don't have a vote. this is up to the british people. they should make their decisions based on not what's good for the united states but what's good for the united kingdom. but i am absolutely persuaded that the united kingdom is stronger, more influential and more prosperous if it stays in the european union. think about it. they send 44% of their exports to this single market in europe. if they leave the european union, they have lost their biggest customer. now, they will try to renegotiate and get back in. i guarantee you, i won't be on better terms than what they're in right now. so just from a pure economic perspective, this should be a no-brainer. there is a larger set of forces at work here, though.
there is a corollary between those who are demanding that britain leave the e.u., anti-immigrant forces that are concerned about outsiders changing their culture, what we see back home with mr. trump and some of the rhetoric there, we are in a moment of global change, and people have anxieties about that change, some very legitimate. global capital movement, workers are less mobile and as a consequence, less leverage, wages stagnate. there is obviously terrorism fears have emerged that are very complicated but people want to simplify them by thinking if we can just hermetically seal ourselves off then we would be okay, and what all this adds up to is i think a desire to pull back with a draw and reject the global integration that's been
taking place. unfortunately, in an age of smartphones and the worldwide web and international travel and big cargo ships and global supply chains, that's just not possible, and, so, what we need to do is not disengage, but rather get in there and try to make sure that the international rules are ones that are consistent with our values. so we want, you know, great britain should be in the e.u. arguing on behalf of the values and the common sense that they care about, which, by the way is, you know, the things we care about as well. >> rose: you made an important speech here and you're going to talk about trade, i assume, some of the issues facing europe. how bad do you think the opposition to trade and the rise of populism is? i mean, some say that, you know, there is an effort to blame globalization, as you just
suggested, and that that adds to the optical of plants closing and jobs going overseas and there's a fear not only in europe but in the united states. >> absolutely. >> rose: how do you convince them that trade is positive? because you've got a trade agreement with asia, with the e.u. >> well, as i said before, there is a reason why people have some suspicions about trade. not every trade agreement in the past has been good for workers. there has been offshoring seeking primarily low wages or low environmental standards and companies can profit and sell back the goods irrespective of what that's done to the communities they've left so, there are legitimate concerns about how globalization is proceeding. my argument, and i think this is hard to dispute, is that the only way to change this system is to engage it, not to withdraw
from it. if, for example, we don't pass the trans-pacific partnership, where we are now writing the rules for the asia-pacific, and we're able to raise labor standards so that suddenly vietnam, for the first time, is going to start recognizing labor rights, or malaysia suddenly recognizes they have to do something about human trafficking, or other countries start saying, under the terms of this agreement, we have to abide by certain environmental standards, if we don't ratify that, then we have a status quo in which china goes into those same countries and says, we don't care about human rights, we don't care about worker rights, we don't care about environmental rights, and they will write the trade rules that will disadvantage our companies and further water down the standards that we've built up inside our country. so the point is not there aren't legitimate concerns about
globalization. the point is we're three-quarters up the mountain and it's a lot easier to go up than to climb back down, and i think the knee-jerk response, both from the left and the right, in europe and in some cases in the united states, has been to say, let's just, you know, pull up the draw bridge, let's not ratify any trade agreements. well, if we don't ratify trade agreements, that means you must be satisfied with the status quo. obviously, it's not satisfactory. if you don't like how nafta worked, the trans-pacific partnership modifies it in a way that enforces labor and environmental standards you used to complain about. >> rose: but you have convincing to do, like the nominee of your party. >> well, the politics are tough and the reason is because the benefits of trade have often been diffuse. even well-structured trade agreements create some disruptions.
it may be good for 90% of the economy. it may create all kinds of jobs and export opportunities, because export jobs pay better, but people don't see it as much, they don't feel it. the average person working for a company in the united states that exports doesn't necessarily know that they're exporting, they just know they're making a great product. if u.s. consumers benefit from lower cost goods that improve their quality of life and keep inflation down, that's not something they know, but when they see that plant close, they do know that. oftentimes, if the plant has closed because of automation as opposed to trade, it's hard to make that distinction. so part of our job is not to dismiss concerns about globalization. they are real and they are legitimate. it is to argue how do we make globalization, which is not going to be reversed any time
soon, work for ordinary people? how do we make sure it's working for communities all across america or here in europe? and that is something i'm convinced we can do. but, you know, we've got to get the facts out. >> rose: we're in germany. your favorite global leader who has been with you longest. >> yes. >> rose: what is it about you and angela merkel? what is it about her that makes you believe she represents the kind of leadership you need in europe? >> well, i think that i have an affinity for her and i would like to think she has an affinity for me because we're both pretty rational. we try to analyze a problem and solve it based on facts and reason and cohn sense, and what
i also believe, though, is that she represents a vision of europe, both in her own life and in her policies, that has resulted in stability and prosperity here in europe and a strong transatlantic relationship. she believes in free markets. she believes in liberalism. she believes in democracy. she believes in a free press. she believes in pluralism. >> rose: and willing to make decisions that may not be in her interest. >> yes, and she's a good politician. if you look at what she's doing with regard to the refugee crisis, she's making an argument that we're prospering now because people invested in us in the martial plan and worked with us in reunification and we worked hard and deserve our success but we also benefited
from those who were willing to see humanity in us after world war ii and we now have that same obligation. and that kind of moral authority i think is important. she and i have had disagreements on various issues, on economic policies. she's pursued a more austere set of economic policies and had that influence in europe and the way that slowed their growth more. even when we disagree, we're disagreeing on the basis of facts and of common baseline of values and i think that's reflective of what the transatlantic relationship has to be out. >> rose: how are you coming together on dealing with migration and refugees? >> what i've said to them is this is not just a european problem, this is our problem, too, for two reasons -- one is that if you have a flood of
refugees and it's disorderly, then, you know, these are folks who potentially, if not handled properly, could end up being an alienated population inside of europe that is not assimilated, is not integrated, and will be resentful and that could have an impact in terms of their willingness to engage us and help us on things like counterterrorism. but more importantly, more strategically is the strain it's putting on europe's politics, the way that it advances far right nationalism, the degree to which it is encouraging a breakup of european unity, that in some cases is being exploited by mr. putin who says forget about europe, look at sort of
reasserting the nationalist greatness and anti-muslim sentiments. >> rose: his goal is to divide europe. >> well, i think mr. putin has generally viewed n.a.t.o., e.u., transatlantic unity as a threat to he's mistaken about that. i indicated to him that, in fact, a strong, unified europe working with a strong, outward-looking russia that is defining its greatness not on the basis of military but rather on the basis of its ability to harness the talents of its people for economic good, then that's the right recipe. so far, he has not been entirely persuaded. in the meantime, i want to make sure that europe itself is not threatened. so what we have been doing, to
answer your question about how we're approaching it, we are under the n.a.t.o. umbrella, trying to help them in the aegean sea. we have been trying to facilitate the deal that has been struck between the e.u. and turkey so that there is an orderly process of migration and, obviously, one of the things we have to do is to try to use all our diplomatic power together to bring about an end to the civil war. >> rose: as i prepared for this on your trip and whether it was the g.c.c. going to london or germany, it seems a principle that comes out of your seven-years-plus is you strongly believe you have to do this with partners, whether against i.s.i.l, whether battling migration in europe or righting politics or whatever it might be, is that a message you have to these prime ministers, we have to work together, and are they receptive in terms of
making a commitment so they're not free riders, to make a commitment to the effort against i.s.i.l, dealing with migration and the efforts to terrorism in their homes? , i think they are receptive to it. i think they need to do more particularly around the fence. a very simple proposition in n.a.t.o. has been everybody needs to spend at least 2% of their g.d.p. on the fence. now, we spend close to 4, and we understand that some countries may need to gradually get there, but there is been a complacency involved post-cold war around n.a.t.o. defenses. now that you have threats on the southern front, that's going to strain resources and require new capabilities, but the general message that we have to do things together is absolutely true because the nature of the threats we now face are different. these are transnational threats.
these are threats that don't involve defeating some great power that's trying to take over the world, but it's climate change and it's transnational drug trafficking and human trafficking, and it's problems with failed states and poverty and migration and these are the kinds of problems that are best dealt with by linking up and sharing information and sharing best practices and pooling resources. and one of the points that i made very early on in my presidency is that the united states will reserve the right to act unilaterally anytime we have to defend ourselves and core interests, and i've done so repeatedly on a number of occasions. i haven't been afraid to deploy u.s. forces when it comes to defending the homeland or people
or interests, but when it comes to issues that face all of us, that threaten all of us, coming out with a unified voice, being able to project and magnify the power of those who share values, share institutions, and share a vision for the future, that's the best recipe for success and that's what we have been able to do with the paris agreement, that is what allowed us to get the iran nuclear deal, that is what is allowing us now to ratify a vision of sustainable development that allows us to get private sector actors as well as the public donations and to electrify a subcontinent that needs electricity desperately, and that's what a lot deal with ebola, a crisis that could have gotten out of control but
because of rapid intervention led by us saved countless lives, so, in each of these cases, i think we have been vindicated. >> rose: what about north korea? >> north korea is a massive challenge. our first priority is to protect the american people and our allies, the republican of korea and japan that are vulnerable to what north korea has been engaging in. their economy is so insulated and so rudimentary that trying to squeeze them harder oftentimes has limited gains. and i am concerned about the fact that they continue to invest heavily in not just nuclear weapons but also delivery systems. having said that, this is an example of where maintaining a constructive relationship with china can make a difference
because if there is one country that could help us amplify the costs of bad behavior and could offer also the benefits of better behavior by the north koreans, china would be a critical partner in that process. >> rose: my last question on that is basically china helping you make the point, you have to stop them. every time they try and fail, they learn something. >> that's exactly right. >> rose: how close are they to having both the missile delivery system as well as the warhead? >> well, look, obviously they're not as far along as some of the other nuclear states. >> rose: of course. but they are erratic enough, their leader is personally irresponsible enough that we don't want them getting close, and we're going to have to continue to apply pressure and
this is going to be an issue that i inherited from the previous president and, unlike the iran nuclear deal, i'm not going to be able to say to the next president, this one i can wrap up in a bow and say has been resolved for a while. this is something that is continually going to vex, i think, the region and the international community and u.s. leadership will be required, but it's not something that lends itself to an easy solution. we could, obviously, destroy north korea with our arsenals. but aside from the humanitarian costs of that, they are right next door to our vital ally republic of korea. so that creates vulnerabilities for our allies and higher costs in terms of deterrents, and we
have to constantly work with our allies to make sure we're putting as much pressure as possible on them but doing it in a responsible and cogent way. one of the things we have been doing is spending a lot more time positioning our missile defense systems so that, even as we try to resolve the underlying problem of nuclear development inside of north korea, we're also setting up a shield that can at least block the relatively low-level threats they're posing now. >> rose: thank you for taking time. people more important than me waiting to see you. >> thank you very much. >> rose: thank you. >> rose: taryn simon is here, a multi-discipline artist. "vogue" called her art alluringly and teasingly philosophical. her permanent collections reside at the metropolitan museum in new york. the tate in london and in paris.
her most recent exhibit is called "paperwork and the will of capital," recently at the gallery in new york. >> rose: that series along with black square currently showing at the garage humid of contemporary art in moscow. pleased to have taryn simon back at this table. welcome. >> thanks for having me. >> rose: you and i have been friends for how long? >> 20 years. >> rose: and it's been a
remarkable journey. how would you define the journey you have been on for the last 20 years as an artist? >> laborious and calculated in many ways, but when i think about my work, i used to say it was guided by my anxieties or me trying to understand the systems by which we order ourselves and to find some logic in the overwhelming madness that surrounds us. but mo and more i feel it's compulsive and i don't know what guides it but it just keeps happening. so... >> rose: and you just go with it? >> yeah. >> rose: it demands of you and you produce? >> yes. >> rose: your father was a photographer. >> yes, my father and grandfather were both huge influences. they both collected an enormous amount of data and simultaneously took photographs which accompanied that data. so that was always a guiding force that i followed, both in
very different directions. my grandfather was interested in the stars and minerals and rocks and flowers and my father was more political and interested in different cultures and sort of learned about them through his -- >> rose: was it inevitable for you to choose photography as your medium? >> i think, when i look at my medium, it sort of at its core is the idea and there is an enormous amount of research behind the end result. and i never know what form that's actually going to take. so sometimes it could be a performance piece. sometimes it could be a written piece. oftentimes it is photography. but the concept comes before everything. >> rose: what i love about you is you're fearless. >> no, i'm not. >> rose: yes, you are. i have a lot of fears which i think guides -- >> rose: fear of fairl failure r something else? >> no, not failure, just fear of
everything. i grew up with a conspiracy theorist. when you talk about my father, i was taught to mistrust absolutely everything. so from birth-forward, i was operating in a practice of doubt. that creates a lot of anxiety. >> rose: it was a fascinating relationship. >> yes, continues to be. >> rose: yes, continues to be. have you had role models? >> you know, i never had identified as an artist or strove to be an artist. what i do wasn't guided by those references. it wasn't something i grew up around. it wasn't necessarily a deep interest of mine. mine has always been a response to sociology, anthropology, aesthetics, economics, all mixed together, philosophy -- >> rose: politics. yes. >> rose: lots of politics. where did that come from?
you're a living, breathing citizen. >> i'm interested in how we construct authority and systems meant to give margins to the ways in which we operate in the world and give us a sense of order and whether that be through capital or through these governing bodies, these are all constructions and illusions in many ways and what we do to maintain a sense of sanity in chaos. >> rose: and where would you put the innocent in that? >> well, the innocence is its own insanity. just the psychological space those men had to enter into when your life becomes a fiction. and there's no way of reversing the fiction. and it certainly reveals the pitfalls in the system that we take as reliable. >> rose: in fog, february
of -- in vogue, february of this year, "perhaps the preeminent conceptual photographer of her generation, one who not only takes pictures but addresses the role of images in shaping personal and political history." sound like you to me. doesn't it? >> yeah, well, particularly in this current project, where i was looking at historical source images of very significant moments in history. >> rose: to do what with? well, i was taking images from actual signings of agreements, treaties or accords, decrees that had an economic root. they're the motivating force behind the signing of these contracts was economic, and looking at those sort of stage craft that surrounds those agreements and how that is conveyed to a public, what is the ceremony that surrounds it. and in that, i found that there is this repeating pattern of
this presence of flowers always sitting amongst these very powerful men as they're preparing their design. >> rose: the purpose of the flowers is? >> it's, in my work, i was always imagining the flowers actively listening to the men in the room and being witnesses of their belief and their abilities to control the evolution of governments and economies and citizens and nature being positioned as this sort of decorative, dormant el manhattan in that structure -- element in that structure. and we also associate -- there is sort of a feminine quality associated with flowers i was aware of in this construction and where the flower was positioned and who is really going to last and what is going to survive and who is in power in this equation and so i took
these historical images and distilled them to their aesthetic qualities and re-created the bouquets. >> rose: now we're going to look at some of the images and talk more about this. >> this was one of my inspirational images where you see the men sitting around the table at the munich conference and they are clearly planning big designs on checks lavacaia and making the agreements of the transfer of land and changing of poredders and the impact upon people's in those areas and then you have this bouquet of flowers sitting amongst them and when i was starting to explore the history of flowers and how it plays into politics and the systems in which it operates in, i found this image. it struck me the disconnect between the two. so i started looking at more historical images in which flowers are present, but i wanted to find a decisive moment where something was actually happening, and that's why i
turned to signings where something was being declared, and often those signings represent broken promises, so what i was looking back on had been reversed years later, or forgotten by the powers that be. >> rose: was this one the first you selected? >> no, this was just an inspirational image. i went back and started looking at historical source images from 1968, forward. 1968 was the opening of the global flower market in the netherlands and what i wanted to do was look at what are called impossible bouquets. so impossible bouquets is a thing that started with dutch early still life payment anything the netherlands and represented a fantasy. so it was flowers and a vase that could never be together in the same vase because of geographical and seasonal limitations. so in the befinnings of capitalism in the netherlands,
the dutch company would go out to distant lands and bring back findings and trade could start and started a luxury of the middle class that they were part overthese explorations. what once once was only possible in painting is now possible in photography because we live in a consumer society where you expect anytime irrespective of limitations of nature itself. so this flower market is like the amazon.com of flowers. it's the world's largest building and it's just filled with flowers from all around the world that ship in daily and are shipped back out to the bodega on the corner or anywhere else. >> rose: one of the central themes of the series is that flowers are forever and politics is temporal. >> right. well, you have the treaties
themselves where the flowers are present, and my ephotographs can preserve that moment as can the historical source image. a photograph can take something out of time's continuum, so the flowers can remain these beautiful conveyances of power and life and vitality and bomb bass in ceremony, whereas the specimens themselves which i also preserve in my sculptures, they will turn and tarnish just like the agreements themselves, where they will turn and reverse. so there is all these questions about survival and the precarious nature of survival. >> look at those flowers. i had a botanist at the new york botanical gardens identify all the flowers present in the historical source image and i ordered them and re-created them against the background and foreground colors from the historical image so i
used that bright green background and the yellow tablecloth upon which they were signing and that is an impossible bouquet so i had the botanist confirm every bouquet i was re-creating was an impossible bouquet, meaning those flowers never could be together at the same time and place in nature. this particular bouquet was a signing between australia and cambodia regarding resettlement of refugees who had arrived in australia, and australia organized to pay ca cambodia 40 million australian dollars and in exchange cambodia accepted its refugee population. this was an unprecedented agreement where they could outsource this for money. at the time, the prime minister of australia said no refugee arriving in australia by boat without a visa would ever be settled in australian territory, and this has been cited again and again with the refugee rye
crisis going on now. so this is the establishment of the islamic trade finance corporation which allows for sharia compliant trade and finance in over 57 member states. >> rose: the man in the middle used to be the ambassador to the united states from iran. >> yeah. and the interesting thing here is sharia compliance banking and finance includes expected things like they can't involve gambling and pornography and pork, but it also interests on risk sharing, no paying or collection of interests, no speculative transactions like derivatives, so on paper it doesn't allow of the things that stained our own economy. you can see the flowers sticking in on the edge of the frame, but this was in 1994 where america was russia were giving ukraine all the security assurances and promising to respect its integrity and independence and in exchange ukraine returned its nuclear stockpile to russia
which it inherited with its independence but russia maintains the sort of remote control for these missiles which would allow them to launch a missile and have it appear like ukraine launched it. so ukraine gave all that weaponry back with the promise that russia would always protect it and then you cut to today when russia invaded the crimean peninsula -- >> rose: and supporting eastern separatists. there is john major on the right. let's see the flowers for a second again. what kind of flowers? >> star gazer lilies. >> rose: of course. and a lot of these flowers have actually mutated to such a degree that they are literally for show. i mean, this is about the stage craft of power and the flowers themselves have been altered so much, they really mirror and mimic man's behavior in terms of manipulation and proliferation. >> rose: was one of your ideas
here to be seductive for these photographs? >> yeah, they're framed purposefully in these frames that sort of indicate bureaucratic and sort of the furniture of bureaucracy and governments, meant to appear almost like the u.n. and i wanted to have somebody come in to this with all of these associations one would have with something so decorative, and there is a certain bomb bass in the size and -- bmb ast in the size and texture and you are hit by the reversal. this is the reagan mujahideen in '81 and reagan here was reissuing c.i.a. support with the delivery of weaponry. it's reported of consisted of translating the qur'an into local minority language as and contributing it to countercommunism in afghanistan.
but what i find amusing is the boo guy is suck lants and i took it as an effort to make the mujahideen feel at home in the white house. but it may be ronald reagan's love of palm springs, and it's how we can take historical data and stamp our impressions on it which may be wrong wrong and skewed. >> rose: the next one, switzerland. >> the agreement between the united states and switzerland in which america is chasing tax evaders with offshore accounts abroad, and this basically brought down the swiss banking system and insisted on swiss banks revealing the private information regarding any american there. >> rose: so the theme of this one more time is what? >> basically, right now, we're living in a world where the gap between what we see and what's
actually there seems to be so huge, particularly in political arenas, and the way in which power and authority is broadcast, and the means by which we construct that power. so to me, the flowers are representative of this pattern, and it's about those ways in which we decorate ourselves to create a certain sense of control. >> rose: here's what you said about entering this project. i entered into the project very differently than in the past to other works. i feel like i was going to the complete opposite direction if object, material and source. this was different. >> yeah, it was different because the initial interest in using flowers came from a book that i found by a gardner of the duke named george sinclair in the 1800s and he was doing
different experts on grasses and how they'd compete when he planted them next to each other and darwin cited it as being influential and i found a book where the specimens lasted 200 years, preserved, beautiful and if a world where we're living in all the digital data that feels temporarily or easily disposed of, that this thing remained. i wanted to do something with those dried specimens and speak about the notions of survival. to me it was so much about that. and in this book, those specimens stood alongside his data recordings. from that point, i went off to find things like that picture at the munich conference of hitler -- >> rose: well,ou said to someone else, i was interested in the idea of these men. who they could control the evolution of the world from their language and assertions and flimsy paperwork they're about to sign and nature's this cay administrated decorative
thing that sits between them. >> yes. and there are sculptures in the work designed based on plant presses where all the 36 agreements that i high light are pressed up against each other in this squeeze, in this plant press, and to me it was about hearing this cocaphany of all their different agendas sort of pushing up against one another, and for me it was often about sound, even though sound is such an absent component. and everybody who is involved in the agreement was signatory at the brettonwoods difference and established the imf and world bank, so it's about these countries that did worked to create a certain means by which we all -- >> rose: are you artist or historian? >> i don't know. >> rose: what have you become? i don't know. tired. >> rose: no, i'm not going to let you get off easy.
you've become an artist who is experimenting and curious and looking for -- the next thing you will do is what, performance art? >> yes. >> rose: what's that going to be? >> i'm working on a performance piece for the park avenue armory and it involves architecture and sound andeth sort of a -- and it's sort of a version of what i've done in the past where it's going out to these very distant areas in the world, but instead of bringing back photographs and texts, i'm bringing back the people and staging a pretty elaborate sound piece. >> rose: do you have some sense that you're moving -- do you have any sense of what direction you're moving? or are you using photography to raise questions about a larger world? and what are the ways i can do that? i can do it by performance art which uses real people. >> it's never so conscious. i actually -- this was what i'm doing in the performance piece was something i attempted to do
in a living man declared dead in other chapters and was unable to do so, then, used it in this other form, and it's truly designed for this form. it wasn't meant to be photographic. it found its place later in a different it regulation for me. me -- in a different iteration for me. the one i'm working on for the park avenupark avenue armory ist borders and the movement of people across borders and death and the way we process death, and it has this certain relationship to the times, but it's almost accidental because i started it four years ago and it suddenly seems to be mirroring what's happening now. >> rose: indeed it does. let's go to black square. what is this? >> this is an empty space that will one day a thousand years from now house a vetrified nuclear waste black square i've made. we just completed its fabrication in russia and i have
been collaborating with russia's state atomic energy corporation to make a black squared based on the painting by malavich in the early 1900s which represented the break of iconography of humans into a more abstract, spiritual zone. this was honestly something i never thought would happen. this was an exercise in communication and strandslation -- translation and i was certain this could never be and it's magically fabricated. inside the nuclear black square i made is a letter that i composed to the future, that was put inside a stainless steel capsule and cast inside the black square and the nuclear black square will be buried for a thousand years until its deemed safe for humans to be in front of it, which is what the hole is for. some days, 1 how -- 1,000 years
from now, there's a letter inside it and someone will find it and place it in the square. will they break the black square to get the letter or preserve the object itself? >> rose: their decision. tell me about the parrot. >> precursors to the nuclear black square. the black squares, there are a series about man's inventionings, and they range from insignificant or very minor decisions to something as powerful and extreme as nuclear proliferation. so this particular one is about -- it's more of a poem or a metaphor about human behavior, but this is a bird suffering from destructive disorder and it plucked feathers off its belly as a result of isolation and age
nation in captivity, so it can express its depression in a visible way whereas ours would be less present. >> you answer this question, do you have anything that is your favorite by saying simply whatever it is that i do next? in other words, when you look at all that you have done in the 20 years that i've known you, a remarkable life in photography and art, is there anything closer to the core of who you are? >> i see them as connecting, i really do. i mean, you can see from the very beginnings with the innocents, which is so much about how an image could be distorted by text and my attention to text for all of the time thereafter was bound to that moment and that recognition, and i never shifted from that, this relationship between text and image.
so it was founded there and carried forward in all of these different iterations. >> rose: it will be there till may 16 so get a reservation now to go to moscow. this is an artist who's gotten a huge amount of attention. most people think she is as good as anybody in her generation in exploring not only photography but its connection with life. thank you. >> thank you. >> rose: pleasure to see you. thanks. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications
the following kqed production was produced in high definition. >> and their buns are something i had yet to find anywhere else. >> and you can come to my house to dinner. >> breaded, fried, gooey, lovely. >> in the words of arnold schwarzenegger, i'll be back. >> you've heard of a connoisseur, i'm a common sewer. >> i may have to ward off some