Kristian von Hornsleth
- about the book Fuck You Art Lovers Forever, 2005
Art is only art when it's not art. As soon as it's defined as art it's dead, and it loses its speculative foundation. The code is decoded. Recognition is recognized, and the party's over. My fundamental demand of a good work of art is that it has to contain all earlier works as well as something new and exciting in relation to historical consciousness. Otherwise it's trivial and a waste of time. And when something is so new and different that you can't put words to it, you have to trust your intellectual instinct, defying Wittgenstein, and navigate through the wordless landscape – out there where you can neither anticipate nor comprehend recognition.
My point is the following: what's really interesting is precisely that delicate and vulnerable phase before a work gets defined and accepted as art. It's this delicate phase in the genesis of a work where completely new thoughts become apparent and where nobody really dares to believe in the substance of that work. It's easy enough to buy a recognized work of art in an established gallery. Also, it's free of charge to go to a museum and praise the old masters, who often had to go through hell before they met the anaesthetizing luxury of recognition.
But if it isn't art when it's art, then what is it? What is it then that occurs in the delicate, pre-definitive phase of this art? Art is a physical construction of an existential idea. It's a thought that can best be formulated in imagery. Perhaps, in a Platonic sense, it's a kind of silhouette of something that can't be seen immediately. At best, art can explain human existence, since religion has already been exposed.
This book contains works from 1992 to 2005. Each work leads to the next one, and I didn't want to leave out any of them. My work has been a journey through extremely diverse mental landscapes: from the deepest hateful, depressive frustrations to blissful voyages of recognition, nearing the platform of consistency. I hope to be able to give you, dear readers, a small portion of the constructive self-criticism that I have experienced along the journey.
That's why critique of contemporary culture is also a consensual part in the process of what art does. The jester lives on and provokes the system until he's just about to get his head cut off, and at the same time the king enjoys experiencing a few truths. Visual art criticizes the power structure that's in place and the current and circulating cultural paradigm. But why is it the men and women of power who cultivate and finance this art? Is it intelligent entertainment or masochism?
All of my works are created via a working process I call futilism. Even as a boy I remembered being surprised by apparent meaningless shapes and sounds around me. For instance, I remember in my grandparents' home there were some immense tapestries with bombastic shapes on them, and I saw all kinds of figures and creatures grow out of them. It sparked something in my unconsciousness, and I began to take note of and register the many different signals around me. In a flash it was as if everything formed a kind of synthesis. Words, thoughts, ideas and accomplishments.
Futilism became for me a method of interpreting things where I critically build upon a given visual noise or interference. Appropriation – now with substance! I continued seeking these flashes of recognition and later starting working on formulating an almost scientific registration. In 1997 I completed The Futilistic Manifest. An updated version is included in this book. My thesis is simple: If the elements around me speak to me, I answer.
I can get inspired by an old poster or the façade of a house, a pair of designer jeans or maybe a Rolex watch. I can get inspired by everything, and like a kind of autistic person, I don't possess the filter to sift out the surrounding noise of the elements from signals of meaning. Everything imposes itself on me. I attempt to cut through a portion of the noise and adhere to just that portion. I react therefore I am. I interpret and make my discussion visible by painting the poster or rebuilding the house, and in that way I intervene in the discourse of the object, thus conveying my ideas. Perhaps I engrave Fuck You Art Lovers in the Rolex watch and thereby open the discussion regarding values and norms. There seems to be a layer of interpretation between the object and myself as the observer, and it's the interpretation that can contribute to new ideas.
And there's the rub. As the observer you must consider a given work, even though it may not be defined as art yet. It's difficult and can cause stomach problems. Because suddenly, the work compels you to cross your own boundaries and enter into completely new territory where you don't know exactly how to conduct yourself. And that's healthy. Here, it's a question of something that everyone can use in their everyday lives, something everyone can benefit from, something the artist can contribute to society: namely inspiration.
This is one of the many answers as to why HORN$LETH is always on all of my works. It's me who's speaking. You as the observer have perhaps another interpretation of a given object. My interpretation is my interpretation. It's become my vocation; I've stamped and approved. That's what you're paying for.
In order to more easily digest the narcissistic iconoclasm of this book, many kind and generous people have contributed to it by writing texts, however they've chosen to, pertaining to the subject: Me and Hornsleth. I am very grateful for this. All of these texts are presented in English as well as in Danish.
The size and scope of this book could only have been made possible because so many collectors have nevertheless understood the idea behind all of this and have become a part of the work. Art is an expensive hobby, and the courageous people who invest in it receive tenfold in return the inspiration to stand face-to-face with their reality.
Fuck you art lovers! There's so much terrible shit out there. Even the biggest tourist trap has regulars. You easily waste your time. Be sharp; be critical. I paint with the blood of the soul and will continue to do so until I drop dead. Welcome to the temple where nothing is sacred.
Truth is beauty.
Kristian von Hornsleth, 2005
This text was published the first time in the book Fuck You Art Lovers Forever
Kristian von Hornsleth, Futilistic Publishing, Copenhagen 2005.
You can buy the book on www.hornsleth.com