We are all Toys in the hands of Art


Real visions and visionary realities blend inside paintings, installations and other irreverent performances, characterized by Jonathan Meese’s creative power, whose only rules is imposed by Art. Below is our exclusive interview that will lead you against the mainstream.

Art is above everything, a perfect mythopoietic machine capable of ruling universal equilibriums, going beyond the restraints set by human nature. Jonathan Meese floats as a child in the thriving bowels of art, bringing to light images studded with dreamlike and astonishing symbols. A seminal talent that the German artist expresses with such a simplicity to destabilize the audience’s perceptions.
After his success at the Museo Civico Diocesano of Santa Maria dei Servi in Città della Pieve, where we also met him, and after creating the scenic design for Wolfgang Rihm’s operatic work Dionysus – having its première at the Salzburg Festival 2010, Meese reveals to DROME magazine his personal relationship with art as well as with his childhood.

DROME: Speaking about your presence at the Berlin Biennale in 1998, the curator Susanne Titz said: “Meese had indeed put his finger on the pulse of his generation and presented it”. In fact, your installations are full of different myths and symbols, united under a common feeling. Do you think this mixture of images and concepts from different eras is the prerogative of the current generation of artists? 
JONATHAN MEESE: In art everything is possible and allowed. Art is the leadership. Art is Nr.1. Art is chief, art is total power, art is always future. Art has nothing to do with individualism, art is always the law of metabolism. Art plays with itself and uses us as toys and decoration. Art makes its own mixture and shows the human being its place: we all have to play, play, play without rituals, without religion, without human ideology, all toys of art are masks. Art has no religion, but every religion is art. Art hands over the total laws: all myths, all cults, all occultism and all esoteric ideas have to neutralize themselves, all nostalgic ideologies have to disappear. The current generation unfortunately serves not art but democracy, themselves (their ego), religions or human power systems in general. The current generation thinks that human self-fulfilment is the only reason for making art. The artists nowadays mistake themselves with art. Jonathan Meese’s installations show us the total power of art and guarantee that art is stronger than religion, politics and cynicism. No human being can force art to arise. Art cannot be taught or learnt, art needs no freedom of the artist, art is its own freedom. Art plays its own total game, like Nero-ism or Caligula-ism.

D: To me childhood recalls images of purity and innocence. What are your childhood memories? How did these memories influence your work? 
JM: Childhood is Total Power because no child, no baby is democratic, religious, esoteric or cynical, nostalgic. All babies and children are total leadership, that means the total law of nature. Total Lolitaism has to rule the world like Alex de Large, Lolitadzio, Humpty Dumpty, Dr. No or ISIS. Jonathan Meese was totally hermetic, metabolistic, antidemocratic and full of instinct until now. That is to say, he was often alone in his room, reading and imagining a lot. Jonathan Meese’s Babyism is Babyanimalism. Even as a total baby, Jonathan Meese could smell the total energy of art and nowadays Jonathan Meese could understand metabolistically that reality was and is too weak to be the future. Jonathan Meese’s childhood based on the metabolistic knowledge that democracy is wrong, that we need Art, the “THING” as a new leadership, super, super, super. Jonathan Meese’s childhood was protected by nature, mother and dreams, like Zardoz. Alex de Large (A Clockwork Orange), Caligula, Mad Max I-II and Dr. NO. It’s not Jonathan Meese’s memories to influence art, only the future influences art. Art is forming itself, the human beings have to step aside and let art happen. Art is always full speed of its own most radical childhoodanimalism. Art is the total chain of saliva-ism.

Jonathan Meese, HEY HOTTIECHEN: SCHNULLER DIR DIE SAUKUNST, es bringt´s …, 2010, courtesy Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris photo: Jochen Littkemann, Berlin

D: From painting to installation first and then performance and then back to painting, thus closing an ever-evolving circle. Your creativity eludes the usual schemes and any time constraint, like the feverish and vital curiosity of childhood. Can you explain the mechanism of your artistic talent? 
JM: Art is the total circle of life, Art has nothing to do with the nostalgic human-made ideology of life after death, no, no, no. Art is no speculation, art is only total metabolism. Art is the total fever of living, total vitality is played in art. Art is the semen and the result of total revolution. Only art as total power will rule the future, only the childhood radicalism of total survival will be neutral and hermetic enough for the future: ART IS TOTAL BABYBALETT. Art is Babyhormonism, Art only connects to its own ever-renewing childhoodbabypower. Talent, experience, creativity and learning is not necessary for art, art breaks its way through unknown territory, so only instinct and forward-power, insecurity and stubbornness is needed. Go for it. Art has its own talent of doing what is necessary. Art has its own will. Art is not the artist. Art is stronger than all priests and art is not predictable. Art is Scarlett Johansson’s mouth and nose. Art is totale Üppigkeit (total lusciousness).

D: I have recently read some of the statements you made during the exhibition “Babypropagandaddy’s Metabolismys”, at the Bo Bjerggaard Gallery in Copenhagen. During that interview, you said that we are all just toys in the hands of art. Art does with us what it wants to do. Do you think that our desire to create and manipulate art is just an illusion? 
JM: Yes, the self-fulfilling joke of creativity and the horrible Hochmut (arrogance) of humans to believe they are the masters of everything, is a terrible mistake and an illusion. Art forms us, art manipulates everything in the most radical and fantastic way (see Zardoz). Art gives the direction, the humiliating reality nowadays is obscene brainwashing, art is no culture. Art is freedom of itself, culture wants to cultivate, horrible. The democratic people always want to live against the laws of nature, because they think they are the leaders, gods and rulers of the world, that’s horror.

D: You’re like the enfant terrible of the international contemporary art world. Do you think that this role reflects your temperament?
JM: Jonathan Meese is not an individual, Jonathan Meese is just the most flexible toy of art nowadays. Jonathan Meese is wax in the hands of art and does what the total leader ‘Art’ wants: Jonathan Meese is always on duty and plays, plays, plays without rituals. Jonathan Meese’s temperament needs leadership. Jonathan Meese’s total authority is TOTAL ART. Jonathan Meese hates anarchism, because art is the chief and all human beings have to follow. Anarchists only follow themselves, like all democrats, who only believe in the measurement: Ego, horrible. Jonathan Meese is no ‘enfant terrible’, Jonathan Meese is just the most humble servant of art, anti-religious, anti-democratic, anti-esoteric and anti-self-fulfilling.

D: Were you a child prodigy?
JM: Not at all, Jonathan Meese was a very normal, shy, withdrawn, uneasy and hermetic child. Neither him nor others thought of him as anyone special. We all need to work on the future ideology that no human being is more special than other things or nature. That is essential. Art needs no human genius, art itself is the genius. Art needs only baby wolves of art, insects of art. All babies are the same, they breathe, scream, sleep, eat, drink and digest. That’s wonderful, nothing more is needed; love, respect, humility and metabolism are the basic elements of existence, not religion, politics, human ideologies or luxury. Art is what you cannot choose, like breathing or digestion, culture is based on what you can choose, like religion or politics. That’s the difference. Art is only based on life necessities, not wishes or speculation. Total Children, like Jonathan Meese, live instinctively according to the rules of total art, always, like Alex de Large, Zed from Zardoz, Humpty Dumpty or all Moomins. Art gives responsibility to every single person, every single thing: in art nobody has to kneel down or pray. Art is no god.

D: Let’s talk about your solo show at the Museo Civico Diocesano of Santa Maria dei Servi in Città della Pieve, opened on May 15, 2010, conceived and curated by Il Giardino dei Lauri. Your extremely contemporary works were exhibited in a place rich in history and tradition. How important is the dialogue between contemporary art and the historical and artistic heritage in your art? 
JM: Art needs no human tradition, Art needs no human-made art or History, Art needs no human classifications, Art needs no nostalgic roots, because Art is only future. Art is respectful towards everything, because art produces no victims. Art shows us that the past is as unknown as the future. Art says: Look beyond yourself (Sieh von Dir ab), you are not the fuel of art. Art is the total fuel of the future. The blood circle of art is produced by the total ‘gland’ of the future: DICTATORSHIP OF ART…
All rooms of the past will be transformed through art into the future, all rooms have to be free of democracy and full of metabolism. Art produces only lawless rooms of total beauty. Total beauty is total metabolism. Art is total neutrality. Art plays without rituals with historical things, and that is total purity, hot.

Micòl Di Veroli

Jonathan Meese, photography Jan, courtesy Jonathan
Jonathan Meese, HEY HOTTIECHEN: SCHNULLER DIR DIE SAUKUNST, es bringt´s …, 2010, mixed media, oil on canvas, 2 panels, 260 x 372 cm / 102 1/3 x 146 1/2 in, courtesy Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris photo: Jochen Littkemann, Berlin
Jonathan Meese, Untitled, 2010, mixed media, photo Jan, courtesy Jonathan
DROME 18 – the CHILDHOOD issue, cover by Jacqueline Roberts

Published on DROME 18 – the CHILDHOOD issue


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