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How do you see the John Smith project in context of your other, independent works? How does it overlap or differ from them?

Both Marko and the curator, Anders Härm, noticed the same thing – that it was something made without full personal responsibility. John Smith was something that was between me and Marko. You can do it, but without thinking that “it is not mine”. You use whatever you like in a random way and it creates something in-between.

But then there was another project, which is still going on – a consciously-made collaboration – with the artist Urmas Muru. These were video works, which we showed in the cinema Sõprus and at the Kumu art museum; there was also a catalogue, Gorilla says: fuck!, published four years ago. It was a very different kind of collaboration. 

I participated because the way that Urmas ran the project was totally different than the way that I would have done it. At the beginning, it was even hard to be together, because he did everything he could to make the situation unpleasant. It was like a challenge. If you want to make something new and you are not able to get what you need from yourself, then you have to take it as a different combination, from the outside. The first combination would be to find something similar, where the situation is more convenient and comfortable. When this combination has  already been used (like for me and Marko), then you need to find something completely  opposite. The people who participated in this project were always changing, only Marcus and I stayed the whole time. His philosophy, at some point, is that we should create conflicts because only in such situations can people add a special energy. When there is conflict, something starts to happen, so he specially created these kinds of situations. For instance, the participants had deciding on something, and then, in the most clever way, he says: “No, we are not going to do it this way.” And of course, then everyone feels pressure, the critical attitude… In my collaboration with Marko, we really liked what we were doing; with Urmas, it is totally different – only when I really really don’t like it anymore, do I say, “Stop, I’m out of the game.” But there is a very close distinction between “I like to do it” and “I don’t like it at all”, and in this way, I find out more information about myself. I’m also creating something. But it is also a rather free situation – without responsibility, but under pressure. Together with other people, I am part of a game. There is some sort of danger, but also freedom. It is interesting. And the result is quite strange.

You had exhibitions together with Jonas Gasiūnas, and Tõnis Saadoja. In such cases, do you try to somehow synchronize your works?

We are quite similar with Saadoja, there was not much need to synchronize. With Jonas, we are close friends, but we're more different from one another. But I like to perform together – then you can learn new things about yourself. I’m quite egoistic and try to make things perfect. But it is good to collaborate, to check it out, to destroy the system.

It is quite challenging – artists usually create their own world, they are somehow too egoistic to be willing to share their space.

But many artists don’t have a sense of humour as well, just this mono-, not a stereo-, view. I know so many good artists who have no sense of humour… They are so serious, at least in the field of their own art, that it is quite surprising.

Is a sense of humour an important part of collaborative work?

Yes, you have to be able to laugh about your own “serious” work. This is an attitude. I try to live my life in the most perfect way that I can to satisfy myself, but there are also other people around. And even if I don’t respect them, they would still be there. I create my own world and respect others’ worlds. But we still live together, and take some energy from this same source, which might seem wrong somehow. 

Untitled. 1997

I quite often argue with one of my my relatives who, from my point of view, lives in the most wrong way. But now, I'm beginning to think more and more that this could be looked at as an art project (of course, he does not look at it as an art project). He is just living his life, but its effect is like that of a good art project, because he makes me think about this way of living. And this should be the effect of each art work – I see something and it impresses me, stays in my mind, keeps me thinking. But most art works are not like that, they are crap and boring, with no energy and no position. But some ways of living are real art projects. My naïve philosophy is that maybe in the future – and this comes from Andy Warhol's position that everyone can be an artist – an artist is anyone who is called as such. Even if he/she doesn’t like it. It's the same with this relative – “I shall call you an artist!” (He hates art.) Because what you are doing has the effect of art, and now you are labeled as an artist. But you and you and you, who are doing these wonderful paintings, you are not artists. You are off of the list and now we put this person on the list.”

Several of your art works and projects, even their titles, contain biographical references – your image or your name (‘Kaido’s Art School’, etc). This is probably your humour, or you are being ironic, but is this also a method of how to deal with issues which are important to you in art?

It is connected with honesty. These were from last year's shows, where I was trying to be very precise and I was saying things as clearly as possible, without any addition of art. When I used myself in the paintings, it was like a game. They were very personal, as I don’t know many people as well as I know myself. Even with that relative – I try to understand him, but I can’t understand him as much as I would like to. There is some strange speculation going on if I start to think about other people.

Is the role of the spectator important to you when you do your works? – how she/he will perceive your work? Is it a dialogue, or just your monologue?

It depends. First of all, I have a monologue with myself. But I’m always ready for dialogue. I don’t think I have many chances to do it differently. There can be, more or less, only one perfect solution, and I have to find it. Then it is both a monologue and a dialogue at the same time – the capability to reach other people. When you do it in an honest way, it is loaded with your energy and beliefs in what you are doing. The other people will find you – friends, and also enemies, who hate what you are doing. Somehow, it is part of my plan, that there should be someone else sitting on the other side of the table.

Kaido's Art School