"wanderings" – Jonathan Meese on art: life force instead of way of life

Munich (dpa) – Jonathan Meese always causes a stir – for example because he works with Nazi symbols in works or shows the Hitler salute at performances. It’s art, he explains then, and in fact it has gone unpunished every time a small exhibition of “The Odysseys of Meese” works can be seen at the Pinakothek der Moderne. The 48-year-old envisions a world without politics, ideology and religion. A dictatorship of art, in which art is not only a lifestyle, but a vision Question: When you were young, you had nothing to do with art. How were you back then? Answer: I was a dreamer, a type of nostalgia. I didn’t cause any trouble. I sat in an armchair and got confused, I listened to radio plays and read books, I imagined things, I thought about them. My mom was so cool to say do what you want. Then she suggested that I go into business or become a banker. I did all that for a bit and then I realized it wasn’t really my thing. Question: And how was art class at school for you? Answer: For me, art was like chemistry or physics or mathematics. I did, but eventually I dropped it, I think in 11th grade, because I was somewhere between third and fourth grade. This is a subject that I was able to exclude. Question: Now you live for art. Answer: For me, the national goal is art. I want the German state to become a total work of art. We’ve had politics and religion for centuries, it’s getting nowhere. We have to risk something, a new state system which I think is called art. A world without politics or religion, a world without ideology is possible and desirable Question: Symbols appear in many of your photos, for example from the Nazi era. Why ? Answer: All symbols and gestures, including military ones, are decontaminated and de-ideologized by art. Everything is allowed in art. I can express anything in art. We don’t die from art, art doesn’t claim real victims, only politics and religion do. There have been many odysseys in human history, and those odysseys have always been politically or religiously motivated. Art never leads you astray, art takes you into the future. Question: The titles of your works sometimes make the viewer guess, for example “Dr. Wurstcremees’s Handgemenge” which can be seen in Munich. How would you describe your relationship to the language? Answer: It is important for me because you have to progress in the language. We must not leave radical language in the street. Art must speak the most radical language of all, so that others don’t. The language in parliament and on the streets has become so radical that art can only say that we artists must be even more radical or we will be cashed in. After all, artists are not the decoration of politics and religion Question: You are very critical of politics Answer: You can only vote for power, and that doesn’t interest me. If you choose mediocrity over power, you yourself become more and more mediocre and you become a follower. Why do we still pursue ideologies? Why do you want to copy times 100 years ago? Why do you want the return of monarchies? There was Ludwig II of Bavaria, you can’t copy him. He created what we now call Bavaria. What do you think of when you think of Bavaria? One thinks of Ludwig II and Leberk√§se. So many blocks were put in the way of this guy, he only wanted the best and the politicians wanted to kick him out. But what remains? his art. Nothing remains of the politicians of the same period. No vision because they never had one. Ludwig II had a vision and art is the vision of the future. Politicians must abdicate, party, ciao! Question: In a photo from 2018, you describe yourself as an art boy. Are you really that cheeky? Answer: I don’t let myself be hitched to any ideological cart, that’s why I’m cheeky. I’m also naive in a way, but I love art. It’s a question of passion and not of lifestyle. Today’s politicians are lifestylers, and much of the culture industry is also lifestyle. But not me, I only have heart and soul. That’s why I’m often exhausted, because I give everything for art. It’s all from my heart Question: You don’t mind when people criticize your art Answer: I think it’s good that people get upset about certain things, it’s wonderful. If nobody gets mad here and everyone says, well and good, then it’s decoration. Then it’s just a cultural program, something nice from yesterday. People need to get excited. I still have the privilege of being considered a charlatan after 25 years of professional art. I’m not a charlatan, but I find it crazy that I still have this perception. I can live with that. If everyone says you’re the guru, then I can stop. ABOUT NOBODY: Jonathan Meese is known for his expressive, often vividly colored images, but also for his performances. He regularly makes videos and writes manifestos in which, among other things, he calls for a dictatorship of art. In his work he deals with a lot of legendary characters, historical figures and myths.

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