Jan Kage at the colorful studio of the artist Dadara, Jan asked him nine to shine questions.
What were your best moments?
Which were your worst?
What do you like most about art?
Art focuses our attention. Entertainment diverts our attention. The world is becoming a giant bubble of increasingly more and more entertainment and a hallucinating digital overdose of information turning us all into information potatoes (the 2018 version of the couch potato). I think looking into who we really are beyond our social media likes and being able to express ourselves with art is really important so we don’t end up as a bunch of sheep following the path which Google laid out for us.
When does art become a headache for you?
Each time I embark on a new project it seems to fuck up my life in everyday reality, and almost during every art project there comes a moment that I want to give up and tell myself I should have a normal life like everyone else: just work a bit, chill and hang out on the couch watching television, go out on Saturday evening, and then repeat, without all the intensity and highs and lows of the life I am living. But after hell comes heaven and I realize it’s so amazing and beautiful to live your dreams, and I would never, ever want it any other way. I guess you can’t have the yin without the yang, the light without the dark.
What can art do best?
Art can show that there is more than meets the eye. That there’s a whole world beyond the one we see everyday. It can show us the freedom to live beyond our reality and make us feel that which isn’t tangible. I think that’s also the reason why in my opinion art can probably better than anything else show us the true spirit of a certain period. The art of the sixties or eighties for instance really gives me the feeling that I can understand those periods, even though I wasn’t born in the first and too young to experience most of the latter. Art, literature, movies, and music for me capture the true spirit of an era.
What can art impossibly accomplish?
Being efficient. Art won’t build better railroads, create faster cars, manage personnel, but it will show us there a whole world outside the highway to success.
Which art works should be seen by everyone?
Some of the artworks I love most and had the biggest impact on me can’t be seen anymore. They were one-off experiences like the K-Foundation (former KLF) burning a million British Pounds, or Michael Landy destroying all his worldly possessions very categorically using a conveyor belt. But even though we can’t see those artworks anymore, we can still feel their impact. And luckily we still have the stories and pictures.
For a long time I have also destroyed most of my art: I burned the Fools Ark, I blew up the Love, Peace, and Terror tank with explosives, we smashed Checkpoint Dreamyourtopia to pieces with sledgehammers and chainsaws in Stattbad Wedding exactly twenty years after the Berlin Wall fell. It’s one of the reasons I am so happy with the Dadara book which just got released, because it has collected all these projects which can never be seen anymore in real life in the reality of the pages of that book.
Working on this retrospective book for the past year has made me realize the importance of one particular performance, which was not a performance in the traditional sense of the word.
In the nineties I made hundreds of record covers and flyers for parties for the house scene. Then Peter Giele, an artist friend of mine who had started the Roxy, the club having a huge impact on the Amsterdam scene and my life during that period, died at the end of the nineties. His funeral was a big happening with lots of fire and chaos. That same evening the Roxy burned down. That ending prevented that club from becoming ‚business as usual’, but instead turned it into an urban myth.
Which artwork can the world do without?
There’s a lot of art that I don’t like, or doesn’t touch me (and a lot of art that does!). But I rather have more art than less on this planet, so I welcome all art out there. Please keep creating!
Come visit me in Berlin on the 29th of March when I’ll present the new Dadara book (Open your Mind – so we can use your data) with a talk, screening of some Burning Man movies I made, signing the book, and some music and drinks at CRCLR, Rollbergstraße 26, from 6 till 12 if you have any questions left 😉