in Interviews | 12 SEP 07
Featured in
Issue 109

Damián Ortega

Damián Ortega’s exhibition ‘Nine Types of Terrain’ is at White Cube, London until 8 September 2007. He is also nominated for the National Gallery Prize for Young Art, on show at the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin from 14 September – 4 November 2007. He lives and works in Berlin.

in Interviews | 12 SEP 07

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?

That’s tough, because at the beginning you can’t tell the difference between what’s art and what isn’t. Then you learn to tell them apart, and now the things that interest me the most are the ones that aren’t really art.

What image keeps you company in the space where you work?

On the wall I have nothing, just a blank wall. In my memory I have a lot of confusion that lets me pull very different things together and relate them. For example, I recall a black monochrome that was published by Abel Quezada, a cartoonist in the most widely circulated daily paper in Mexico, on 3 October, 1968, the day after the Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City’s Plaza de las Tres Culturas. I also remember Ad Reinhardt’s cartoons rather than his monochromes.

If you could live with only one piece of art, what would it be?

Cruzeiro do Sul (The Southern Cross, 1969–70) by Cildo Meireles

What is your favourite title of an artwork?

Why Not Sneeze Rrose Sélavy? (1921) by Marcel Duchamp

What film has most influenced you?

Coca cola en la sangre (La fórmula secreta) (Coca Cola in The Blood [The Secret Formula], 1965), a film by Rubén Gámez. The first and only experimental movie produced by the Mexican film industry.

What are you reading?

I like interviews. I prefer hearing opinions directly from the artists … The critics can convince you of anything, if you’re not careful.

What music are you listening to?

My iPod on shuffle. Right now the ‘Ethiopiques’ series and Wareika Hill Sounds (2007) by Calvin ‘Bubbles’ Cameron’s Wareika Hill Sounds.

What do you like the look of?

I like exchanging looks with girls on the street.

What should change?

The power that graphic designers have in the world. It’s like a new rising bourgeoisie that’s taking over. They’re even making coffee with their laptops. It’s the future of art – when artists end up being too uncomfortable because they’re clumsy and eccentric, an army of graphic designers will be ready to take their jobs and work to serve the clients. An artist is always trying to escape from the conventions of art, while a graphic designer is always trying to belong at all costs … I hope any good graphic designers reading this don’t take that the wrong way.

What should stay the same?

Doping in the art market.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?

I’d like to have an oyster bar.

What do you wish you knew?

How high we’re going to rise and how we’re going to fall.

What is art for?

A conspiracy strategy.