Interview Christopher Beanland (2019)
1. Tell us about the theory behind your art and what it means to you.
There is no theory ‘behind’ my work of art. But there is passion for art, love for art, the will to work, to do a work of art, the desire to establish a ‘critical corpus’, and the determination to fight for my work, for my position, for my vision of art. Therefore, nothing is ‘behind’, instead something is ‘in the ‘foreground’: To do art is a mission, and in trying to accomplish this mission, I believe art is universal. Universality means Equality, Justice, Truth, the Other, the One World. Art – because it’s art – can provoke a dialogue or confrontation directly, from one to one. Therefore, I think that each human being can get in touch with art, each human being can be transformed by the power of art. I believe that art is the way to reinvent the world. Art is autonomous. Autonomy is what gives an artwork its beauty and its absoluteness. Art – because it’s art – can create the conditions of an implication, beyond anything. Art is resistance. Art resists facts. Art resists political, aesthetical, cultural habits. Art is positivity, and intensity. Art, because it’s art, calls for equality. There is no other fundament, there is no other mission. The absolute affirmation of Equality is the link, the hidden and invisible connection holding a work together. Pure equality needs to be fought for at every moment, precisely because it’s not a fact. I believe in art and have faith in art. I think that art is an inclusive movement, art should include the ‘Non-exclusive audience’, the Other, the uninterested in art. Art can never act in resentment or negativity, art is always and in all circumstances against discrimination, racism, and exclusion; there is no place for anti-Semitism or Islamophobia in art. Art affirms Truth; Truth created by every form, every assertion and every conviction. Truth is not the verifiable fact or ‘true information’. Belief in Truth is something essential. I place Truth on the same level as Universality, Equality and Justice. Truth is pure Energy, Truth has nothing to do with ‘quality’. I insist and believe in: “Energy = Yes! Quality = No!”
2. I studied Gramsci and he influenced you, Deleuze too. Tell us a bit about that and other Marxist theories and your art.
Again, there is no theory but love to make me work. The love for philosophers, as Deleuze, Spinoza, Bataille and Gramsci. I decided to make monuments in public space for those four philosophers. Therefore, I made – as last of the series – the “Gramsci Monument” in 2013, at Forest Houses in the Bronx, New York. The “Gramsci-Monument” was produced by Dia Art-Foundation. For me the challenge was: How can I give form to the love for him, to my love for him? Antonio Gramsci counts for me and I am a Fan. I am a Gramsci-Fan because he was a hero, because he was a revolutionary, because he was ready to pay the price for his commitment, because he was a strategist, because of his passion for the Political, because of his proposition to self-define one’s own position, because of his hate of indifference, because he wrote Notebooks and Letters in Prison, and each one is a beautiful and strong foundation from which one can build an education, because his faith in the human capacity and competence was unlimited, because he wrote “Every human being is an intellectual” – which was echoed by Joseph Beuys who declared “Each human being is an artist”, because he understood Art and Philosophy as a friendship-movement, because of his question: “Is Philosophy independent from politics?” which encourages me – as an artist – to then ask: “Is Art independent from politics?”, because his texts are a toolbox for everybody willing to confront today’s’ reality, because of his definition of what crisis is, because he wrote constitutively about art: “Art itself is interesting, it is interesting in itself, in that it satisfies one of the necessities of life.” and “The content of Art is Art itself”, because of his fight for Universality against particularism, because of his love of ideas, his insistence to make these ideas work, to act and be efficient with them. because he wrote: “The only justifiable enthusiasm is that which accompanies the intelligent will, the intelligent activity, the intelligent richness of concrete initiatives which change existing reality”, because he was fearless and because he is an example of loyalty and because to read his writings – today – is such an encouragement.
3. How do you re-use materials in your art?
I don’t ‘re-use’ materials, I use materials. I use common materials, that everyone knows and uses, such as tape, cardboard, wire, coins. These materials are non-permanent. My love for ‘Non-Permanency’ comes from my understanding of every human activity as precarious, from my belief in doing things instead of considering their unavoidable incommensurable precarity. My love of ‘Non-Permanency’ comes from the strength and courage which is necessary to create something, despite its precarity, despite the precarity of all things and despite the precarity of life. The logic of ‘Non-Permanency’ – and the conditions of its persistence – is an absolute necessity and complete emergency.
4. Do you see your art as ‘recycling’?
No. As an artist I refuse to adopt the term ‘recycling’ for my work. I don’t believe that art can be processed within a recycling frame, because art means inventing one’s own guidelines or appropriating them. My guidelines are: acting in headlessness; ‘Energy = Yes! Quality = No!’; being weak – but wanting to make a strong work; not economizing oneself; self-expenditure; ‘Panic is the solution!’; being both precise and exaggerating; undermining oneself; being cruel vis-à-vis one’s own work, being tenacious, ‘Less is less! More is more!’; ‘Never won, but never completely lost!’; assuming responsibility for everything concerning my work; being ready – because the first – to pay the price for one’s work.
5. Does the environment matter to you?
Yes, as a human being.
6. Do you think art must be political as well as aesthetic?
Art must be full of Aesthetic, full of Philosophy, full of Politics and full of Love. I decided to position my work in the form- and force-fields of Love, Politics, Philosophy and Aesthetics. These four fields are all equally important to me. My work does not have to cover all fields evenly, however, I always want all four fields to be touched. One of these four form-and force-fields, is the field of Politics. To choose the force- and form-field of Politics means that, in my work, I always want to ask the question: What do you want? Where do you stand? It also means that I always want to ask myself: What do I want? Where do I stand?
I am concerned with doing my art politically – I am not concerned with making political art. The statement, ‘doing art politically – not making political art’ is a statement I took from Jean-Luc Godard, who said: “It is a matter of making films politically; it is not a matter of making political films”. Doing art politically means using art as a tool. I understand art as a tool to encounter the world. I understand art as a tool to confront reality. And I understand art as a tool to live within the time in which I am living. I always ask myself: Does my work have the ability to generate an event? Can I encounter someone with my work? Am I – through my work – trying to touch something? Can something – through my work – be touched? Doing art politically means considering the work that I am doing today – in my milieu, in my history – as a work which aims to reach out of my milieu – beyond my history. I want – in and through my life – to address and confront universal concerns. Therefore, I must work with what surrounds me, with what I know and with what affects me. I must not give in to the temptation of the particular – but on the contrary – try to touch universality. This means that I want my work, that I am doing here and now, to be a universal work. That is the Political.
7. What projects are you working on now?
I am currently giving a workshop “Energy=Yes! Quality=No!” at Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India, and preparing the “Robert Walser- Sculpture”, an ambitious project that will open in Biel Switzerland next June, at the invitation of the Fondation Exposition Suisse de Sculpture ESS Bienne / Stiftung Schweizerische Plastikausstellung SPA Biel. The “Robert Walser-Sculpture” is the occasion for me to assert a new form of sculpture and pay tribute to the work of Swiss writer Robert Walser that I love. This project is a ‘Presence and Production’ work of art, meaning that I, the artist, will be present the full duration of the project, and will be producing the work with people and groups that I have been meeting in Biel since 2016. My mission as an artist is to work for the non-exclusive audience. I believe that Art is Universal and can transform the human being. Art can provoke encounters, Art can create an event.
8. What do you think about art and waste?
Art is waste! Art is waste of love, waste of energy, waste of attention, waste of sensitivity, waste of critical spirit, waste of truth, waste of belief, waste of fight for justice, waste of desire, waste of desire for freedom, waste of will for equality, waste of conflicts, waste of reality, waste of questions, waste of world-questions, waste of hope, waste of hope as the principle of action, art is waste of utopias, waste of generosity, waste of ideas, waste of the ideas to change the world, waste of movements, waste of dialogue, waste of dialogue to know the other, to reach the other, one to one, art is waste of transformation, waste of the transformation of each human being, waste of resistance, waste of seeing differently, waste of looking, thinking, hearing, feeling differently, waste of the belief in the power of art, art is waste of emancipation, the emancipation of every moment, waste of acceleration, of precipitation, of headlessness, and art is waste of time and money. Art is Waste, definitely. Everything which touches and is touched by Art must be Waste.