|Born||1976 (age 40â€“41)
One often forgets that even if art is a very successful field in contemporary culture, there are still a lot of people alienated by it. Even if people don’t fully understand where my work is coming from, at least there’s somebody who looks kind of sane standing in front of you and politely engaging with you. People react.
I am for fetishisation! All of us have our favourite things, and they speak to us.
I wanted to do dance with the same seriousness as art was done and acknowledged, not with the entertainment factor that is always connected to theater and film.
My father had to flee from what is today Pakistan when he was a child, and he became a manager at IBM, and any item of consumption he would acquire was a direct measurement of his success in life. But that same equation wasn’t going to work for me – I was quite clear about that in my early teens.
The nature of my work is my subjectivity meshed with other people’s subjectivity. So there’s a correspondence with that… Even if you write about me, it will reflect on you; everything is a kind of weird collaboration.
Because of this high status of the object in our culture, something has to be a thing. Live efforts are almost marginal. I think dance, for example, is just as much a thing, and I want for it to have the same status. I don’t want it to be the thing that comes in the evening and is, like, the happy music.
What my work is about is, ‘Can something that is not an inanimate object be considered valuable?’
For the general public, my work is sometimes easier than a painting because there is someone addressing you; it can actually be a relief. What’s interesting is the idea of a tourist randomly coming in and the experience they’ll have.
My work comes out of a deep psychological place, so it’s not like I’m Object Man at home. Theoretically, I’m not against objects, but, personally, I’m not comfortable attaching myself to them – I don’t seek them out. What you can say about my home is that it’s not very ambitious.
As we get better at things, we need less people to produce the things we really need, but what do we do with the rest of the people? They have to be doing something, too, to buy from those few which are doing the really basic stuff, and so that’s why we need to be continually producing new stuff.
On a very, very basic level, I’m definitely pro market because with the market comes the idea of the individual and the idea of specialisation, and I personally like being an individual and choosing my interactions. I don’t see culture moving away from that, like back to a farming society. You couldn’t do that with the amount of people we have.
Kids are very sensitive to the value system of their parents, and I just felt my parents were attaching too much importance, too much meaning, to things.
In preindustrial times, the idea of creating something was more related to your personality. Personality was something that you constructed; it’s something you had to actively develop and work on. Now personality is something that you have.
I want to bring back the human encounter into places where material things have a prime status. In a museum, you’re supposed to look at things and not talk to other people.
We package everything as a product so we can derive income from it. Then we can occupy ourselves with higher-order psychological lifestyle things. This is a very new issue. Money still matters, but other factors have joined the status game – like how interesting, how meaningful your work is.
A museum is like a valuing machine. Museums and the industrial society started at the same moment, and they’re really tied into each other. They’ve been all about displaying objects and the kind of wealth that can be derived from objects and promoting that point.
As a culture or a civilisation, we are a bit juvenile; it’s like ‘Oh, I have all this power, whoa, this is so cool, I can transform the earth and I can produce all this wealth. But we’re blinded by our success in a naive way. There’s more to life, actually, and I think the sustainability issue is also helpful in reminding us about that.
I have this belief that if you have an idea, and you have to write it down to remember it, then it can’t be a great idea.
Our culture is hung up on and overemphasises what can be derived from material objects. I think this is something quite new, over the past 200 or 300 years – that life has become about accumulating material wealth. The 21st century is not about accumulating material wealth like the 20th century. It’s already eroding.
I’m not against the intergenerational function of the museum, I am not against its address or celebration of the individual, but I am against its continuous, unreflected-on celebration of material production.
Material things are not helpful after a certain degree of saturation. So you turn to other products. I think that therapy is a product that can transform you. But why does it need to be packaged as a product? Why can’t I work on myself with my friends and family?