A TerroRealist in the house of Love - Kendell Geers interviewed by Jérôme Sans

 

 

 

Would you say your are an activist ?

 

I think that’s possibly the most difficult question you have ever asked me because I am not sure I am able to answer it. Yes on the one hand of course I think of myself as an activist but on the other hand I dont think that such a position is sustainable today. In my understanding being an activist implies that a belief system that is contrary to the status quo can exist and more than that that it’s possible to effect change either through subversion or through engagement. That may have been true in the 60's or even in the 70's but today the notion of truth has never been more fluid or more obscure. Take the photographic image for instance - whether it’s a reality tv, video or even an archival photograph. That image can today be altered and changed so perfectly that if the people present in the image may begin to doubt their own memory of the event. More than that the technology needed to create the shift is neither expensive nor difficult to access. Even more deppresing is the fact that politics today are no longer about having a position or a point of view or even about having any sign of a policy but rather about image. Witness the recent elections in the United States, Germany, Italy and Austria where presidents have been elected to positions of ultimate power on the basis of their image alone. There is no difference between the left and right in Europe and America. So what does it mean to be an activist today ? I dont know.

 

How would you describe your attitude ?

 

Before anything else I am an artist. Whilst I cannot say what that means I do think that makes me somehow socially unstable. If I was not to some

degree maladjusted then I am sure I would have selected a more stable way of life. I embrace life as an activist in the sense that I actively engage

my daily rituals and activities with a sense of subversive curiosity. I am always looking for the limits and when I find them I try to collapse them and then I start again. We understand ourselves and our world through limits such as morality and social etiquette. And the worst limit of all is habit.

 

 

What are your real limits?

 

My biggest challenge is to overcome the limits of language. whether it is in verbal or non-verbal form languages acts as a structure that limits what can be expressed. I see it as some kind of bad habit where if one manages to do the same thing enough times it becomes habit and enters into the realm of the known and thus becomes language. however up until that point it does not exist. Language inscribes everything we are and our conception of morality to the words we are able to use to the forms and expressions that are considered appropriate in a work of art. When one seeks the limit in order to understand the centre of course there are moments when its likely to step over that limit and what is said or created does not fit in with any habit or memory and thus the expression becomes null and void. I don’t know what my own limits or tolerances are because they are always changing with experience and of course with age. I would say that my greatest limits are boredom and habit but they are also great incentives to keep me mobile.

 

 

How does one break out from these traps of habit and language?

 

For myself it’s a process of searching out those experiences where language has not control, the burden of emotion, the pain of loss, the exhileration of experience, the absence of control, the moment when you know what you are feeling but have no way of expressing it in words. These moments can be extreme such as witnessing a motor car accident or a sense of vertigo in nature or more subtle like the experience of extreme beauty or desire or even simply a fear of the dark. The reason why these moments are so exhilarating are precisely because they are indescribable and thus they taste somehow like forbidden fruit.  I guess that the point I am trying to make is a very old political strategy as used by everybody from the C.I.A. to Baader Meinhoff or Franz Fanon. It is much easier to change a system after first destabilising its structure. In this sense violence and sexuality are extremely strong weapons for there is no escape from them. The entire advertising industry uses sexuality to sell its products as much as politicians use the threat of violence (from the so called "other") to have themselves elected. Whether implicit or explicit we, in the occidental system, tend to define ourselves in relation to violence and sexuality. I am certain that is why the image of the crucified Christ remains such an icon for it embodies both implicitly and explicitly as violent as it is sexual. Perhaps it touches us outside language because it’s a very deep primeval urge, that of being born and dying and in between procreating.

 

 

Are you talking about the state of emergency in which we are all like survivors, always in between life and death?

 

The culture industry is based on a system where such an emergency is impossible. Everything from CNN to MTV to Vogue functions through a process of masking the realities of being alive. Every aspect of the way our bodies work from the way we smell to the way our hair grows or the way we speak or even the clothes we wear is predetermined by the removal of choice. The function of the culture industry seems to me to be the numbing, or you could even say the dumbing down, of the individual towards the collective consumer consciousness.  We are not survivors at all in that process because we die before we were even born when our mothers picked up the first baby magazine to look through as they prepared for our arrival. Of course this all collapses the day we have our first shit and it continues to be disrupted every single time we shit and fart after that. No matter how sophisticated or rich we manage to become there remain some things that are so basic and so primitive about our being that all the toothpaste and deodorant in the world cannot disguise. It’s that collapse of the cultured human into a jelly of desire, a mass of fear, a body of dirt, a bleeding wound that I think is all that remains of the individual. You know when you are alive most when you can smell your own fear or your desire to be fucked devours your sanity.

 

What is the meaning of failure or success for you?

 

As an artist these terms do not interest me. If I am able to communicate and in some way that effects the viewer then I am happy. That communication need not even be positive for a negative reaction to my work is as strong as a positive one. Failure to me would be when a person remains unaffected or simply does not notice the work at all and has an entirely passive experience and notices only the decorative aspects of the piece.

 

Why are death and disruption always central to your work ?

 

We will all experience death at least once in our life and the knowledge or fear of that experience can be seen in just about every culture in the world. Even where death is not feared it is nonetheless acknowledged and respected virtually daily. I am drawn to the taboos that govern death and sex because they imply beginnings as well as endings and because in both we are unable to control ourselves, no matter how rich or educated or sophisticated we presume ourselves to be. I frequently use the strategy of disruption for, like death it speaks both of that which has ended as much as the consequence of the ending and at times suggest new beginnings. Disruption is thus an in-between space that speaks as much about what it is not as it does about what it is and what it could be.

 

Do you believe in Utopia ?

 

As with death, sex and disruption I am much more interested in a dystopia that utopia for the former implies the latter and is thus so much more.

Freedom can only exist when you have the ability and sense to accept the rules and the system and then beyond that to abandon them. I am quite utopian in my thinking but only on the road to dystopia.

 

What does freedom mean today ?

 

I can only speak from a personal point of view and increasingly I find myself escaping into the space of my own thoughts and private world. As the world becomes more and more « international » and in effect Americanised, so the differences between us are dissapearing. For me those colloquial differences are essential to my undersrtanding of freedom because they are what defines me in terms of my own reality. They are inscribed in the Everyday decisions I make and are built around my own personal everyday needs as opposed to the idea of me projected through some soap opera or hollywood film. Freedom to me is the ability to speak for myself, the ability to define myself and the space to represent myself based on my own needs and experiences rather than on an external prescribed idea of me that serves somebody else’s needs or even their fears.

 

Do you mean that there is no more "contestataire" spirit and that everything would be predetermined by the media ?

 

There has been a fundamental shift from the last century in the way that artists work and understand the world around them. I think that the shift

began in the 1950's in Paris at the Beat Hotel with Burroughs and specifically hit cut-up theory and method. The simple technique of cutting up fragments of newspapers and books and reassembling them as entirely new texts changed the course of history for from that moment on the artist was destined to become a consumer instead of a producer. Where that challenge was confrontational and militant to begin with it has now become simply banal. Even as recently as the 70's electronic punk bands like "Throbbing Gristle" or "Cabaret Voltaire" were still able to use the cutup technique and machines to music that challenged the way we understood the world and our notions of beauty.

 

Then sometime in the late 70's the entire western world shifted and we all started changing into professional consumers. The shift is now complete to the point that we purchase our dissidence at Christian Dior or Diesel. Politically it's the same for the differences between campaigning political parties are growing so small as to be negligible that we vote for the most consumable president. Artists and musicians today do not produce their work as much as recycle it. In the persona and method of the DJ we see the most sophisticated expression of the consumer-producer.  It has become more and more difficult to produce because it’s so much easier and professional to sample the best of the past without the vision or the trauma. Why would an artist want to  compete with Prince or the Beatles or Beethoven or Warhol or van Gogh when it’s easier to quote, parody, sample and cut up ?

 

Do you think we are living in a period where creation is on hold ?

 

Yes I would say that. I think that we are currently living in a moment where the act of creating is defined, like everything else of our age, by acts of consumption. For a long time I wondered why so many artists around the world were able to simultaneously and without any knowledge of each other, create works of art that are almost exactly same. Then it occurred to me that it was because so many young artists today are reading through the same art magazines looking for ideas and developing their art based on what’s going on in those magazines. So of course they will all arrive at the same conclusions since they are consuming the same raw material. Every aspect of our lives from the clothes we wear to the magazines we read and television we watch is based on the almost religious experience of consumption and art is no different. It’s also somewhat of a honeymoon period because for the first time in history the individual now has access to computers and software that can change, edit, re-edit, re-create, mix up and mix down any image, sound, song, text or film. The power to control the image is no longer the exclusive domain of Hollywood or the magazine industry and that changes everything. In music we have already seen how the idea of the author has changed with the rise of the DJ, hiphop or even so-called electronic music where the act of consuming somebody else’s material is the basis of creativity. The spirit of this process is however in stark contast to Guy Debord’s idea of plagiarism as much as it has  lost a great deal of its political implication.

 

 

Is the activism today to use the political and its codes?

 

I think it’s about being critical and trying to understand the limits of the languages of the present and working them up into something more. For me right now I do not miss the Cold War any more than I respect a fascist moron like George W Bush. For me the real tragedy is the fact that we have lost every sense of the spiritual in western culture. We have no faith in anything, not art nor politics or even respect in history. We live only to consume, even if the nature and level of that consuming has becter assophisticated as that of the virtuoso DJ wearing Dior Camouflage. I would say that activism today must first restore our sense of faith for without that nothing matters anyhow.

 

 

Since the mainstream fashion and mass media have co-opted all the codes of dissent like camouflage and even sex and violence where do you think that art can be effective ?

 

Yes it’s true that the mainstream have stolen every weapon of the underground from sex to violence and art has been reduced to simply another commodity designer fetish.  What can one do today outside of total despair and capitulation ? I am not sure really but for my part I am trying to shift the emphasis entirely away from the material body of the work, away from the commodity towards the content and then above that insist that the content be political.  Instead of working towards the seamless perfect image I am trying to explore flaws, dirt, disruption, static, whitenoise and decomposition of the image or object as a method. This fracturing both affirms the perfect image through its absence as much as it shifts the focus to other ways of understand reality on the other side of the comfort border. The sex and violence I use and am interested in, and which I think remain effective weapons against bland consumerism are not the sanitised clean poses of CNN and "EMPTY V" but the dirty gritty whitenoise of a télévision set tuned to a bankrupt pirate station.

 

But you work very much within the spirit of the DJ, remixing contemporary culture and your style is very much that of an urban guerilla in combat fatigues. How is that different from what you are protesting ?

 

I think you cannot deny that there is a significant difference between the rap and remixing of a band like "Public Enemy" or "Skinny Puppy" or even "Aphex Twin" and the stylistic remixes of Madonna or Janet Jackson. The former use the remix as a weapon against consumption where the act of sampling becomes a form of shoplifting that reclaims the street culture for the people that created it. In this way the word "consumption" returns to its 14th century meaning as something dangerous that could kill you. There is an important conceptual difference between the artists and musicians who use the remix as a weapon and those who simply go "Photo-shopping" as the latest consuming trend.

 

Yes of course I am drawn to the former and especially to Guy Debord's statement that Plagiarism being essential. I conceive of the remix in the spirit of recycling effluence as opposed to regurgitating influence.

 

Is there a difference between the Beat Generation Cut-up spirit and that of today's Urban Guerilla ?

 

I would say that the former were like a bomb exploding in a urban shopping mall whereas the latter are more like computer viruses. As soon as Burroughs, Corso, Gyson and the South African Sinclair Beiles came up with the Cut-up for their collaborative project "Minutes to Go" the group were immediately divided. Where Burroughs and Gyson understood that they had found a radical new way of working that would from that point on fundamentally change they way they understood art the other two felt that they had in the process murdered the creative muse.  Given the speed with which such challenges are processed and assimilated today the artist must function more like a hacker or a virus, infiltrating the machine and cutting it up from the inside. There is no underground today for nothing is beyond the limits because everything is equally without value, significance and thus without consequence.

 

Why do you think things have changed so dramatically?

 

On the one hand I think it’s because artists today are basically spoilt. Occidental society in general is characterised by extreme affluence and privilege and there is little to fight for unless you cast your eyes towards the Third World or cultures. Even unknown or unsuccessful artists today can earn a very good living even if it means teaching as compared with 50 years ago when even the most important artists were living on a bread line. With this affluence comes an unprecedented amount of choice in terms of production methods. At little cost a young artist today can decide to paint, draw, sculpt, work with found objects, installations or even buy a small relatively inexpensive computer and edit video, sound, photographs and so forth. The choices are practically endless and so there is a gratuity in the methods in the sense that the medium has definitely lost its message. Add to this the fact that the art system is extreme in its demand that each artist find a little corner and stay in it. We thus end up in a situation where an artist becomes typecast for a particular video edit or photoshop method or way of assembling found objects and they are doomed to regurgitating that solution until every collector is sated and the artist is then expected to renew their "trick" for the following season. The political and climate further compounds issues in that anything is possible and everything is accepted and so why bother to make art about anything at all when to make work about nothing is far more attractive ? Of course if you dress your nothing up as an emperor without a kingdom or a religion all the better.

 

What would the next step be ?

 

I think that it’s already happening. It’s already clear that the world changed on the 11 September but it’s not clear yet what it’s changing into. There is an incredible and seemingly unchecked rise of conservativism around the globe today that will, and I think must, be challenged at all costs. We are living in a moment when its more important than ever to challenge authority and the abuses of power. In art I have noticed a certain degree of virtuosity where artists are more concerned with the details of their technique than what they are saying. However the pendulum of history always swings back and I would say that very soon we are going to see a return to raw reality, to lived experience and analogue expressions as a resistance. Already with the group of artists I descibe as TerroRealists we can see how lived experience in a Third World context, or a context of a collapsed political power, the work of art is understood in entirely different ways. For many people in the world it’s news to discover that Reality is different outside the television set from its representation, that the so-called News is different form the lived experience of the same event.

 

Do you believe in history ?

 

Yes and No. I believe that I am, like everybody else a product of historical events that predate my being born and which define my understanding of the world I live in. On the other hand I think that my understanding of these events that predate me are influenced and blurred by the people who wrote the events down as fact. History is written by the winner and is always from his or her point of view. In South Africa for instance the winner changed in 1990 and so we re-wrote the events of history with minute detail. The holidays that I for instance celebrated as a child are still holidays today but their emphasis has changed from a day of celebration to a day of mourning.

 

Why as a bio do you give a list of historical facts, a history of Revolution ?

 

I really hate the idea of the cv in art because it reads to me more like a trophy room than anything else. Whenever I look at a cv, even my own, I am reminded of an old musty study complete with the heads of dead animals on the wall, the smell of cigars and no light and it’s very macho in a way. More than that when I look at my cv I do not recognise myself in it for I see the machinery of art system working its little cogs and not much else. So I decided many years ago to steal this space back for myself and I reworked it into a list of events that truly had a significance in my life, had authentically changed me and influenced what I think. If you read it as a history of revolution I guess it is because I am interested in radical methods of change. I am also influenced by the notion that barbed wire was used for the very first time by the British in their war against South Africa in 1890 or the fact that thousands of South Africans died in British concentration camps in the same war. Of course I was also influenced by the deaths of artists like Duchamp or Debord or musicians like Sid Vicious.

Perhaps I am drawn as much to the question of failure as I am to success, as influenced by the idea of death and disruption as anything else.

 

 

Some people see your work as very macho ?

 

Nietsche said that when you look into the abyss the abyss also looks into you. He also said that one should be careful when fighting monsters that one does not become a monster oneself. The kind of cultural, political and social phenomenon that I work with in my art are often very macho and thus my expression can sometimes be read in that way. I try to destabilise structures of power and collapse hierachies but in order to suceed I do sometimes have to approach my subject in precisely the same terms as it is defined, which can be read as macho if you are not looking at the big picture.

 

Is your bio «T.W.(CV) » a strategical history of human conflict for an african artist ?

 

I am interested in how we define ourselves by failure as much as by success. Politically as well as socially we constantly refer to moments of failure as moments that should never be forgotten, more often even than we refer to moments of success. The dates on my cv are all important to understanding and decoding my work, moments of private failure mixed in with the grand failures of social revolutions. My immediate expereince as a child was in an African context and I still see myself as an African and so there is in my cv an emphasis on African events. At the same time I think that in the African context we have witnessed the best and worst of what the human being is capable of. I am speaking about Ghandi and Nelson Mandela both in the South African context on the one hand and on the other hand Idi Amin, Mugabe, Rwanda, Mobuto and so forth.

 

 

How do you see the future for Africa ?

 

Africa was the origin of both our civilization in Egypt and our species.Things go in cycles and Africa is in a dark place right now as a direct result of colonialism. Perhaps in 50 years it will have reversed once again and the USA will be begging countries like Angola, Nigeria and Congo for funding and food.

 

Do you think the world is ready  for this ?

 

Not yet. For the time being the world cannot conceive of Africa as being anything more than impoverished economically as well as politically.

 

Would you say that you were fortunate to have been born in South Africa ?

 

I call this "The Perversity of my Birth and the Birth of my Perversity." I cannot say if it was a misfortune to be born into that context or not but it certainly effected me. Growing up in a country under siege where a bomb was hidden under every chair and a spy behind every bush and the thought police in every corner obviously permeate ones thoughts and understanding of reality. The fall of Apartheid gave rise to crime, rape and murder and the old paranoia's and aggression became the monsters that crawled out from the abyss. I will never in a lifetime be able to exorcise these demons from my unconscious but at least they are now resting. I am not unhappy to have been born into such a perverse context where one witnesses first hand the extreme depths to which a human being may descend for it continues to influence the way i conceive of human nature. At its most extreme even those in the fight against Apartheid stopped at nothing, not even a sense of humanity in their fight for what they believed in. This fight for basic human rights and finally the failure of the so-called revolution colours my understanding of art and its role. For how can one create decorative or unengaged work when the world is so obviously unequal in its distribution of wealth and privilege ?

 

What do you think of the questions of identity which has been debated  in the last decade ?

 

I think that first you should ask WHERE and by WHOM has the question of identity been debated in the last decade ? In the art tribes it is very often the European curators and academics who are debating and discussing so-called identity art, but as always these discussions were about “other” people’s identities rather than self analysis. As the Occidental art model lost much of its energy and momentum it has needed to look elsewhere for stimulation.

 

How is the art situation In South Africa ?

 

I still believe that the art created in the height of Apartheid from the fifties to the fall of Apartheid in 1990 is of the best ever created in the world. There is a rage and a pathos and an incredible energy in the work of artists like Dumile, the early Kentridge, Rakgoathe, Shilakoe, Stopforth, Hodgins, Goedhals, Rubin, Jantjes, Motau and so forth. In my mind Dumile is as good and at times even better than any of the German expressionists. Their work was made from a sense of urgency when South Africa was entirety isolated and collapsing from claustrophobic asphyxiation within. Art was a protest against the fascist system as much as it was an assertion of life.

The monster of Apartheid was an easy reference point through which to understand your creativity and your humanity. The fall of Apartheid brought a decade of absolute chaos in which a generation of artists thrived for every day was more Surreal than the next and life changed faster than was possible to document it. This was the golden age of South African art as the air was filled with a spirit of radical and structural change. Today sadly the absence of Apartheid and the normality of the social chaos means that many artists have no idea what to make. Instead of trying to fund a solution in the local context most artists are waiting at the airport wit their bags packed and portfolio in hand just in case a curator passes by. There is the sense that it’s an either or situation, that if one artist finds their way to soho then he or she will deny all the others and this translates into the most extreme form of paranoia and aggression amongst artists. Every one is trying to trip the others up in case they get there first. The truth of the matter is that work is simply lacking because very few artists take the time to look around them and develop a vision in tune with their experiences.

There are of course exceptions to this rule and I am very happy to see that artists like Robin Rhode, Minette Vari, Siemon Allen, Johannes Phokela and Hentie van de Merwe are finding their way though all the bullshit.

 

Since the south african biennial ended what are the real possibilities for these artists and others who live there ?

 

The government basically sees art as a luxury and gives it no support whatsoever. It’s not just the visual arts for the Opera, Ballet and State Theatre have all suffered the same fate, many to the point of closure. There are too few collectors to then carry the burden and those that do exist are investment collectors and that's a fate worse than hell. The only real possibility that exists is to escape when you can, as soon as possible.

 

At a time you were very active for contemporary art over there. What are you doing now for South Africa since you moved to Europe ?

 

I have never truly left South Africa for one felt remains there quite firmly. I cannot exist there as an artist and so I have chosen to live in Brussels but at the same time I do everything I can to support South African art and artists. I have for the last tens years for instance been actively working on a collection of art that now includes 800 pieces. I have also tried whenever possible to organise exhibitions of South African art abroad and arrange International shows in South Africa. In addition to formal activities like that I am also constantly campaigning for younger artists and trying to keep international curators informed of the situation and possibilities. My dream is to one day reinstate the Johannesburg Biennial and establish a museum of contemporary international art.

 

How do you see South African art situation inside Africa and inside a global perspective?

 

To my mind there is very little interesting art being made in Africa today and that surprises me. Even in the diaspora I find the work being produced

today mostly rather boring and very moralistic. It’s strange that the very same Colonial value system that ravaged Africa is being upheld and perpetuated in the work of so many African artists. I do not find the same to be true of art from Mexico or the former Yugoslavia or Russia or Brazil and most other Third World countries and I cannot explain why.

 

What does it mean for you being a white African ?

 

In Europe I am considered too African whereas in Africa I am considered too European.

 

Do you suffer of that permanent misunderstanding and do you speak about this in your work ?

 

I certainly do not suffer and in fact quite the contrary. This is a space where I feel very comfortable because it is in essence about a question of borders, boundaries and definitions. I am not sitting on the fence but I am very comfortable living inside the border zone. It’s like a moral check point

charlie, an in-between space that is neither and both of the spaces it touches. My work is extremely influenced and connected to this state for I

try to create pieces that exist in these non-existing or in-between spaces (like the museum toilets, the space of the cv, the window, my date of birth, the emergency exit and so on)  and more than that I strive to create situations that exist within the space of psychological, political and moral borders.

 

 

Why did you leave South Africa ?

 

It is basically impossible for me to create the kind of work I do in an African context. Whilst I believe my work to be quintessentially influenced by Africa there is simply no infrastructure or support in that context.

 

Don’t you simply reproduce the model of your predecessors ? Historically artists from the margins  had to move to London, New York or Paris, so called « centers » to establish themselves ?

 

Yes I am simply reproducing the model but my plan is a long term one. I still visit South Africa every 3 to 4 months and I am still working very much from my experiences as a white African artist. It is possible today more than ever to live simultaneously on 2 continents without losing your sense of self – when Duchamp went to live in New York he did not become any less French than when he lived in Paris or Buenos Aires. I believe that I can better help the art situation in South Africa from here because the world has changed and the notion of a “centre” does not really exist in terms of geography. I mean how would you define the centre of an internet based world ?

 

How do you see Multiculturalism  and the common idea now that margins became centers and centers became margins ?

 

I cannot answer that question without wondering why this word even exists ? In an international art world and in an age of Globalisation what need do we have for the concept of "Multi-Culturalism" ? Surely that’s a simple matter of fact ? As soon as you name something "multicultural" you create a ghetto into which anything "non-occidental" is stigmatised and thus reduced to something other. I am happy with my non-occidental identity and perception of the world and at the same time feel an equal right in defining the nature of that world. Why is it that "Multi-Culturalism" is always defined form the occidental point of view, always from the so-called centre to the outside ? Why should Johannesburg or Beijing not be the centre and Paris considered  "Multi-Cultural" ?

 

What about the sudden interest  in the art world to court artistes from South America, Africa, Balkans, Asia , places that were not inscribed on the international traditional art map ?

 

Frankly I think that the traditional art map, like the global economic market, is unable to renew itself quick enough to keep up with the market demands for something fresh. The artists emerging from the former margins are producing work that is so fresh that it hasbecome impossible to ignore. Apart from refreshing the market, I think that the work produced in the Third World context is interesting because its references move beyond the "Empty V" of global consuming culture. The lived experiences of an artist who was born into or who has lived a significant amount of time in such a context naturally changes the way they understand the possibilities and limits of art.

 

Do you really think African artists can still live over there and have international careers ?

 

Yes of course – just look at William Kentridge, Minetter Vari, Tracey Rose, Zwelethu Mthethwa and don’t forget that Okwui Enwezor was living in Johannebsurg when he made the second Johannesburg Bienial and with it established his reputation as a curator.

 

Recently in a text for the artist Milica Tomic for the Venice Biennial you mentioned TerroRealism as lived position ? What do you mean precisely ?

 

I have noticed that there is a certain physicallity in the experience of works by artists like Milica Tomic, Santiago Siera, Alexander Brener, Oleg Kulig, Sisley Xhafa and so forth. Their work all exists in a state or Ethical Relationalism that places the viewer in a difficult, often even physical, situation where they have to decide for themselves where they stand. This ambiguity is very different from that of classical political art from Europe or America. Each of these artists were either born into a so-called Third World context or currently live there in exile. I believe that this state of exile from the traditional centres where life is very different translates into the artist considering the work of art as an exile from life. This strategy is not restricted to the current generation either for it has a historical precendent with artists like Marina Abramovic and Cildo Meireles.

 

 

What are your African art references in your work ? Who have influenced you really the most there ?

 

David Hammons, Cildo Meireles, Ilya Kabakov, Jimmie Durham, Vito Acconci, Georges Bataille, Aleister Crowley, Michel Leiris, Michelangelo Pistoletto,

Daniel Buren, Ana Mendieta, Felix Gonzales Torres, Charles Argent and Neil Goedhals.

 

What about African Modernism ?

 

What about African Modernism ? That's a very good question which I cannot answer. I don't think that the conditions for a European style Modernism exist or can exist in Africa. Of course there are works of art that mimic the Modernist languages and styles but it’s not the same.

 

How do you see your fight for Africa now ?

 

I don't. I am building a new life as a person in the world in a post-global context. I consider my identity to be post-global and it is from that position that I work. Of course I refer to Africa but I also refer as much to Hollywood or Brussels and  HipHop or even Tokyo. We are living in a global village now and since no French artist is ever asked how they see their

fight for France or how being French influences their work I don't understand why in Africa we are still stuck on these colonial fantasies of

difference.

 

If Apartheid is dead, is it really the reality in South Africa?

 

Apartheid is illegal and if you are found to be racist towards a black person you can go to jail. Of course there are still some people who are still racist but they are the minority and no different from racist conservatives in France or the USA or anywhere else in the world.