You also wrote the Reductionist Art Manifesto, which starts with the lines, “There’s too much art on this planet and it needs to be reduced.” You do not only call for a reduction of the commodities we produce, buy, and use, but you also call for a reduction of art production. Where would you start?
That manifesto brought me a lot of trouble, because people took it very seriously, but it wasn’t meant that way. It was rather a reaction to the problem of overproduction. It relates to my observation that people have this constant need to output and produce—but not every human idea needs to be materialized. Rather, I am trying to make people think of what we really need to produce as humans, and whether it promotes something positive or constructive.
To what extent did that manifesto change your relation to art?
After I wrote the manifesto, I stopped making physical works. I was so troubled by this overproduction. We think that scarcity is limiting, that it’s somehow linked to poverty and has something negative about it, but that’s wrong. At that point, I was close to going to a monastery and just pray. In the end, excluding myself from society wasn’t a viable option; it felt too hard for me. Therefore, I went back to producing art but with a stronger ecological consciousness for the choice of materials.
Do you think the production of art is still needed, after all?
Yes, absolutely. Art describes the contemporary state of affairs, and we need that image to reflect upon ourselves. However, we need more inclusive art, as opposed to the strong expression of ego, of genius, which is still anchored in art history. With the appearance of the Internet, the question of authorship has also changed, as it promotes a continuous exchange, a borrowing, repeating, and transforming of ideas.
And we need art that is more collaborative. The artworks of Indigenous groups, for instance, have always been collaborative: they create together, they learn from it together, they enjoy it together, and it’s part of their daily life. For them, making art has the same value as the job of a doctor or a priest, for instance.
To what extent is your own work collaborative?
When I made the movie about the Białowieża activists, I decided to only use the material that they had gathered, not to produce any new material. They were not planning to do anything with this material; it was intended only to be used as court evidence. I gave them a hand as an artist, as a video editor to put it together and give it a second incarnation. In that sense, it was a collective work that raised a greater awareness.
Growth also means accepting the situation we are in and not disturbing the environment in its process of biological and spiritual growth.