Jonathan Meese's War 'Saint Just (First Flash)' happens at Bortolami, taking the form of a Punch-and-Judy show, with no script or announced theme. We interviewed the artist below, learning about his thoughts on the dictatorship of art, his anti-ideologies and...metabolism.
Performa: Where do you live?
Jonathan Meese: Berlin and Hamburg.
What is your occupation?
Painting, sculpture, installation, performance, poems photos and the dictatorship of art. Jonathan Meese is the most instinctive ant of art ("babyanimal" of total art).
What’s the most memorable performance you've ever seen?
Malcolm McDowell as Alex de Large in Clockwork Orange and as Caligula in Caligula. Scarlett Johansson's mouth and nose, always. And Andy Warhol, who was very close to the dictatorship of art.
If you could change one thing about your country right now, what would it be?
The dictatorship of art should rule the world. All politicians, all religious and egomaniac people should resign and hand all their power over to art. All self-fulfillment ideologies of humans should disappear. Art rules, art leads, art dictates, art forms. Art is and has always been the only anti-ideological power of the future, super, super, super. Democracy as any other ideology has to go. Something new has to come. It will be art, total art.
Where do you draw your biggest inspiration?
From instinctive play, which is not creative but necessary.
What was the first performance you've staged?
The first official performance happened in 1994 in art school. I was reading my own poems in front of a big wall installation. In fact, the first performances were face performances when I was 12 years old, making three different kinds of grimaces and using approximately 12 self-invented words which could explain everything.
What is your responsibility as an artist?
All artists have to obey to the dictatorship of art. Artists as everybody else have to be the most humble, radical and hermetic soldiers of art. All creatures have to serve art by playing the total game of art. There is no other way than to accept the dictatorship of art. Jonathan Meese trusts in the total power of art and puts all his energy in one goal: Leadership of art (Versachlichte Führung).
What is your first love?
What were you trained as?
As a gambler.
What is your starting point?
What is your greatest extravagance?
Sleep, metabolism, hermeticism.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Precise metabolism, dictatorship of art and good sleep.
What is your favorite place for solitude?
What is ambition?
To serve art and play.
Name one of your favorite historical artists and why.
Andy Warhol. Nero. Marquis de Sade. And Zardoz. "The Moomins" and all animals. They all do their job with total passion and humbleness. They have the ability to objectify the leadership, they do what is necessary, not necessarily what they want to do. This instinctive behavior is needed for the future. Art needs your duty, not your dreams. Art is its own dream. Humans can only contribute to art by playing.
What hidden details should we know about you?
No ideology, no religion, no politics.
How would you define artistic genius? Or artistic intelligence?
Art is the genius, not the artist. Artists are only servants of art, and that is great. Artists need to preserve the pure, anti-religious and anti-ideological intelligence of children. Jonathan Meese is the babyanimalism of art.
What can we expect from your Performa 11 piece?
Total play. Work to rule. Metabolism.
Jonathan Meese's War 'Saint Just (First Flash)' takes place on Friday November 4th, 2011, at 6:30pm at Bortolami Gallery, 520 West 20th Street, New York.