The Artboost team lately hold an exhibition with Artmoney.org, where Kristian von Hornsleth shared his thoughts and insights about the artmarket.
Transcript of the interview
Who is Kristian von Hornsleth?
It I'm old friend of Lars. We shared a studio a few years ago. Later I was introduced to this artmoney concept, which is the wildest concept, I think. It is a concept that many, many people follow, and there are very few in the world who understand just how amazing it is that you can mix "oil" and "water." The fact that you can mix a thing so disgusting as money and a thing so disgusting as art or vice versa. They have nothing to do with each other, but somehow you created a currency so that some kind of unity happens, a democratic relationship with all these artmoney which are the same size. The idea lives and you live, and it's great. Next question ...
How do you define good art?
Good art is something such as artmoney. It is a project, you cannot really figure out. I cannot decide whether it is good or bad. It bothers me in a good way. There are a lot of details involved like some artmoney are worth more than others, or is that possible? Is it possible to have money, where all the notes are unique? There are different in their attraction. There are so many factors peculiar to artmoney. Why do some stores accept it as a currency and some do not take it? Is it money? Is it even worth anything? Are we living in vain? It's fantastic! That is good art.
Why is some art more expensive than other art?
I think it's like music. There are those who would rather listen to Mozart, and there are some who would rather hear pop. So it's a matter of taste. And then of course the good, old marketing culture. The consumer culture that we all live in, where everything is being marketed. I read somewhere that in the price of a liter of milk, 75% is advertising budget. So the more we advertise it, the better people like it. And then there's few experts who thinks otherwise. It must of course. They get paid to think so. That issue with price and the arts, it is a pure marketing circus, so just join in! Look at Damien Hirst!
How do you define a good human being?
I recently read a quote from our good philosophy friend, Ole Fogh Kirkeby. He was also asked to define a good human being. So we expected to get such a big, philosophical answer to what is so great about human kind. And then he said, like it says on the old ships, "Fear God and do right." Well, fear your God and do what is right. That is a good human being.
Why are some people more powerful than others?
Power is inspiration, I think. Those who take the initiative hold the power. And, sadly, that goes for democracy as well. The more you can fascinate each other the more you can follow each other. When you have read something or seen something fun, then you think, I better check out that guy. And eventually you end up voting for him. So it's the fascination. We sell all something. The priest sells God at the church. The supermarket sells milk. You sell artmoney. I stand before you and sell myself. There is no relationship between people, which is not supported by a sale. I think so. Today, anyways.
Where do you place your own art in the art political environment?
I don't know. I don't know what art political environment is. But everybody live their own lives in their little glass balls. Sometimes people together. Sometimes they co-operate. Sometimes they enjoy themselves together. Most of the time that they quarrel over the same customers. So I cannot say, really. I've had fun with art. I will continue until I drop dead, I think. I have not found anything more fun to do yet. That might just be ... to open my own brothel.
How do you determine the price of your own art?
It is the market. I remember when I started making artmoney, then we hung them up in a basement on Vesterbrogade/Copenhagen many years ago. Then we invited some people ... hey! (The phone rings, and the Hornsleth puts it on silent ...) and I remember, that I learned a trick for setting the prices. I had visited New York City, and then I had seen the same idiot standing on the same corner playing his guitar. Then I thought, why do I remember him? That's because he is standing on the same corner playing his guitar every day. Then I thought, every Wednesday I fix a case of beer down in that gallery I had, or a basement, and I hung up the paintings. And then at some point, when people had come by to drink every Wednesday (this was a little expensive in beer) but then suddenly there was one who said, "How much do you want for that?" So I said: "What will you pay?" Then he said: "500 Danish Kroner." "Take it," I replied. So what I really like about the free market is that art is worth what people are willing to pay. So then you try to pump up the value, right! But there is no real price on art. There's no money in the world enough to pay for a work of art.
What can the artist do to change society?
Yes. I think it is about time that we reclaim the power. It is good that we meet today, because this is the founding meeting on “Actionistic art.” Because I often think that politicians and other powerful people, they seek inspiration from us and others, because, we may not contribute with specific ideas, but we give them some thoughts from which they can get some ideas. You are all a kind of researchers in how to be a human being. And you can see that from at all these artmoney on the wall. It should be mandatory education at school to go through the artmoney evolution. Have you tried that with a school, Lars? There is such an enormous open and free potential in the meeting with your project. That one could really affect power, or make them self aware of influencing power. Or invite the powerful people. What I am trying to say is, that they see this stuff we do and indirectly are influenced by it. So the game is on. And we can only do more. And there is nothing to discuss. It is moving in that direction. But what I'm trying to say is, that we leave some footprints. We cannot see our own tracks, because it's so non-concrete. We just have learn to accept the way it is.
Now, I sat next to the tax minister the other day for dinner. And he hates the tax department, himself. And then I was allowed to draw on his shirt. So I wrote FUCK THE TAX DEPARTMENT. And it hangs in his office now. So they have a sense of humor, some of them.
Do you think artmoney do more good or more harm?
I hope it does both. Well, the more frightened they become, the more they concentrate. So both good and harm. I do not think you have to choose either or.
Do you have any good suggestions for the development of artmoney?
I think you have to continue this work with lots of exhibitions and inviting happy people. Throw lots of parties. Make it a festive thing. Make it un-snobbish. Making it assemble as you do already. I think that the more you associate it with festivities and colours, the more people will be attracted by it, that art is not as value-based, but it is actually a spiritual thing that you encourage.
What can the individual artist do to sell her or his art money?
I always think of the old, I think his name was Hans Hartmann, American artist who never sold a picture in his life. Now he was also born rich, but then again, it's not about selling, I think. It's about creating. I think that when you're creating something, there is always some idiot that falls in love with it sooner or later. But, do not quit your day job!
The tragedy of the situation I'm in. Under which I suffer. It is that I have to make a living off my art. I would rather, in fact, if I could turn back time, I would rather have been employed somewhere. Like Franz Kafka. And then write his book in the evening after work. I do not believe you should be dependent financially on your art. It is sickening.
Art should just be free from all this bullshit.