in Interviews | 13 OCT 05
Featured in
Issue 94

Questionnaire: Roger Hiorns

Q: What should stay the same? A: Nothing, everything can be replaced.

in Interviews | 13 OCT 05

What images keep you company in the space where you work?

A group of postcards I was given when I was a postman, posters I designed for a couple of shows – ‘The Dirt of Love’ and ‘Vauxhall’ – a Samaritans charity poster, the dust jacket of Fritz Leiber’s novel A Spectre is Haunting Texas (1968) and an envelope with a spanner printed on, under the text ‘work is about to begin’. I never notice any of it any more; I may have to throw it all out and start again.

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

A group of things that still get to me: Felix Gonzales-Torres’ Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform) (1991), Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Figures at the Base of the Crucifixion (1944), Richard Avedon’s portraits and Gustav Metzger’s ‘projections’. I’d like to see these shown inside Peter Behrens' Hagen Crematorium which was built in 1906.

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

David Hammons’ ice and clothing works or Marina Abramovic’s Cleaning the Mirror (1995) or an unfinished painting by my brother Paul.

What film has most influenced you?

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death (1946) or the apocalypse drama Threads (1984) or Mike Leigh’s Naked (1993).

What is your favourite title of an artwork?

David Hockney’s We Two Boys Together, Clinging (1961). Richard Serra’s economy in his titling is also very effective.

What do you wish you knew?

How to read music and sing, as I did when I was younger. I’d like to start a choir.

What should change?

Change your mind as often as you can.

What should stay the same?

Nothing, everything can be replaced. It’s useful to imagine what those replacements can be, and apply this to everything.

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

I’ve only done this and can’t imagine doing anything else seriously. Probably what I’m doing now, but working with people instead of objects – religion or the social services perhaps.

What music are you listening to?

Pansonic and Slint are always on at the moment, as is Iggy Pop’s The Idiot (1977); Klaus Nomi was on for a short while, along with Sparks' album Propaganda (1974). I'm giving Editors a try.

What are you reading?

Mostly plays by Sarah Kane and Harold Pinter. Other than that, history books: Ian Kershaw’s Nemesis (2000) and Jung Chang and John Halliday’s Mao: The Unknown Story (2005).

What do you like the look of?

Hawksmoor churches and Behrens factories, large groups of people, Catalogues raisonnés, Fleet Street, corners in car parks, shuttle insulation tiles, direct action and prisms. Zaha Hadid’s Leipzig BMW factory, holograms. These are a few of my favourite things.

What is art for?

To be passively consumed; to indirectly change or cancel out or to be a living personal monument; to build directional paths through cultures; to pay the bills. It’s always going to be different depending on your use. Fundamentally, a lack of definition is best.

What are you working on at the moment?

A film titled Benign (a re-interpretation of a play I’ve written), for the Frieze Art Fair commissions. I’m also putting work together for solo exhibitions at Milton Keynes Gallery, Corvi-Mora London and Mark Foxx, LA, and working on a commission for the Home Office, London.

Roger Hiorns is an artist who lives and works in London. His work is included in the travelling ‘British Art Show 6’, which is currently on show at BALTIC, Gateshead.