Why don't you get a proper job?
I have a job, though I honestly feel that it’s my hobby and the art is work. I also have an overdraft and two credit cards, like most people I know. Though after watching a programme on Bohemianism a friend contacted me and said I was the only true Bohemian he knew, because if I had £10 left in my pocket, I'd spend it making art.
Couldn’t I just take a shit in a soup can and say its art give me money!
I think you’re mixing your Warhol with your Manzoni.
Or simply draw a circle and call that art?
Yes. Yes you could. My advice would be to stop saying such things and do it, put it out into the world under your own name and let me know how you get on.
My kids could do what you do!
What is it that they could do exactly? Copy my ideas and reproduce them exactly? Why would you be proud of that? Tell them to get their own ideas!
That Jonathan Jones of The Guardian hates this kind of art, and he writes for The Guardian. What do you say to that?
-@JohnKannenberg Feb 24- "Guardian: Replace Jonathan Jones with an actual art critic - Sign the Petition!" -Replying to @JohnKannenberg- "He's always been openly hostile to all but the most conservative art, so I'll just continue to ignore him instead." -Replying to @pmbrowne- "Typical art world self-centred inaction - RESIST and make the world a better place!" -Replying to @JohnKannenberg- "Admire the fervour & agree with sentiment, but Jonathan Jones' playing-to-the-gallery style is just another (boring) opinion"
Okay but you can't call what Tracey Emin does or that shark art?
Whenever I ask in reply what the shark piece is called or what the reasons were behind the bed, it's the look I get in return that continues to surprise me. The quizzical expression contains two things: What would that matter? and a caught off-guard bewilderment at such a response where mass patting on the back was expected. I think it's this complacency that bothers me the most. It’s like a badge of honour. Generally, all the usual cards are then shown in regards skill and effort and I ask why it is that we remember the architect over the bricklayer and the resolute tone only fixes concretely on all sides. I can tell you feelings of loneliness are more pervasive than feelings of smugness.
What about the lights going on and off! Talk about Emporer's New Clothes or what?
Work #227 reminds me of being at my Nan’s house, where I spent a large part of my childhood. She always drew the curtains before putting the lights on so that the neighbours couldn't see in even for a second through the heavy net curtains, and the circular fluorescent light of the front room took an age to fully turn on. This meant that whoever sat in the room remained in total darkness, except for a strobe-like glimpse at the faces around the room whenever it blinked into life. Anyway, work #115 is the real magic for me. Jack Kerouac once said: Goddamn it, FEELING is what I like in art...
What about that old Russian who just stares at people? I'm sorry, but I could look at someone and they'd say, "Dave, stop looking at me!"
Remember that circle you drew? What did you do after that, Dave, and after that… Marina Abramović is a Belgrade-born performance artist. Believe me I know because I looked at her Wikipedia page. Intrigued after watching The Artist Is Present documentary, I looked into her body of work with Ulay and the subsequent ways she’s used her body to speak of things. I felt mesmerised, like the people sat opposite her at MoMA. Especially at the idea of the two artists stood naked on opposite sides of a narrow doorway, so that people entering the room had to decide who to face when brushing up against them if they could think straight at all at that moment. But that’s only my opinion. I once heard her being likened to Picasso by someone in the media (not Jonathan Jones), and I felt somewhat elated and that this may be warranted but have been unable to discuss it, or rather, get a response.
Why don't you speak to other artists?
Why don’t I speak to other artists. You’d be surprised at the viciousness in the art world, Dave. I don't know what you've read about the YBA's and their communal desire to see everyone do well, but this is not my experience. I was heckled as I walked to the stage in a London gallery once, as we’d just watched the short film I’d made I was then required to speak and answer questions about it, and I heard “Yeah go on, explain that!” as I left my chair. The room was filled with artists and people actively seeking out an artistic experience. A curator in a different London gallery walked into the space where I was setting up as part of a group show and announced how much he hated what he saw despite choosing all the work to go on display. On the opening night the audience was asked to turn up naked, and the room was full of men. I have friends who are artists, of course, but when I speak to them about my work I feel like I’m leaving that chair repeatedly or standing in a room full of naked men distractedly eyeing the door in the hope something more interesting comes along.
Maybe you’re not very good?
All I know is that the body of work I have produced over the last 10 years is how I’ve felt about things over the last 10 years, and attempted to express in an interesting way. I love art. I really believe in it. I love its anarchicness and unabashed intelligence, I love that it's unpindownable and challenging and restless and I love the prevalence of emotion and humour. Of course, it wouldn’t be for me to say how it should make someone else feel. The day I let go of art as commodity came as some relief and I felt I could do anything. And here I am with an overdraft and two credit cards and a family and spending my last tenner on something with no useful function whatsoever in order to finish a project and stop thinking about it. This, I think, is ultimately why I have produced the pieces you will find on this site, to expunge the idea from my mind.
What is that mark on the back of your shirt? Haven't you heard of photoshop?
I've heard of it, yes. I studied graphic design at college for 2 years under some very talented people. We were instructed to do as much as we could away from the computer, drawing out a particular font by hand, life drawing, film photography, to notice the hidden meaning in the things presented to us out in the world and I felt that life had finally begun. As part of a group exhibition in Bristol I provided a sound-based installation for the opening night only. I'm looking at it in the picture. On a broiling day I put all the electric equipment in my bag and carried the three boxes the two miles from the train station to the gallery. The sun really came down. I had to stop frequently alongside the busy road to swap hands and put feeling back in my arms. The other artist appearing for the opening night only was paid to be there. With everyone set up and the show open the curator asked me why I hadn't turned the sound on for my piece, and I had to explain that it was on. The others laughed. Soon after, when the paid artist asked me to turn it off when it came to her scheduled performance something about my expression changed her mind and it was decided perhaps the faint then all-enveloping sound would add rather than detract. I had put a lot of suncream on my head and she looked at this curiously each time we spoke.
Why do it then if you don't get paid and it's so much hassle?
There's no parallel life to check upon where things went differently somehow and altered things. Umberto Eco said "I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us." I once knew a retired doctor who threw himself back into art as soon as he gave up his practice, and a retired academic finally able to commit to playing the music he adored full time. They both confessed a resolute regret at the choices they'd made that bordered upon anger. Nobody has the first idea what they are doing or whether it's the right thing. Dad was filled with regret and this looking back with disappointment fills me with terror. If nothing else, art is the one thing that makes the most sense to me, and I want my regrets to be the kind I can live with.
Fancy a drink sometime?