Joseph Young a.k.a Giuseppe Marinetti returns to InTRANSIT Festival this year with An Other World at the V&A. Previous appearances include The Ballad of Skinny Lattes and Vintage Clothing (2013) and Revolution #10 (2014).
In this exclusive interview, he speaks with us about the art of politics and the politics of art.
Thank you for agreeing to speak with me today. I understand your schedule is busier than usual since the recent General Election. How has life in politics changed for you since then?
The General Election result, was, I think, a surprise to everybody. As a conceptual politician rather than a real one, my work is in highlighting the contradictions and absurdities of the political process and making them into art. There is certainly plenty of material at my disposal after what happened on May 7th.
Here on the South Coast, The People’s Republic of Brighton and Hove has become a viral phenomenon online as a small island of red/green in a sea of blue and I have offered my services as the Minister for Politics, Propaganda and Piffle to make a manifesto for the newly formed breakaway republic. The People’s Republic Facebook page already has over 15,000 members and applications for political asylum from nearby Blue-held territories such as Kemp Town, Shoreham and Lewes are coming in thick and fast. This Sunday sees a Party in the Park launch event for anyone in the area.
Before we proceed any further, I was wondering how I should address you. I’ve heard you referred to as Giuseppe Marinetti and also as Joseph Young. Are you one in the same person, or do you have a ‘double’ running around somewhere?
For the purposes of this interview you can refer to me as the Rt Hon Giuseppe Marinetti; outside of this context I am known as artist Joseph Young, founder of the Neo Futurist Collective and CEO of the fictional Skinny Vintage Investment Corporation. And no… unlike various tin-pot dictators the world over, I don’t have a body double…
How do you feel that you are viewed in the political world and in the artistic world? Are you respected as an Independent?
I am certainly respected as an independent artist, where my work is now part of the permanent collection at the Estorick Collection in London; but as a conceptual politician, I don’t ask for respect from anyone. My function is to comment on the political process with an artist’s eye, to examine how Utopias and political narratives are constructed and to use these insights to create multi-layered and inspirational artworks about why democracy is so important and why we need to defend it.
I’ve seen your YouTube video of the song Shoreditchification. But let’s be honest: you secretly wish you could spend all your time shopping at the BOXPARK, don’t you?
“Shoreditchification” was composed and performed as part of The Ballad of Skinny Lattes and Vintage Clothing (InTRANSIT 2013) and was subsequently picked up and used as a term by the Daily Telegraph journalist, Alex Proud. I have spent the last year or so online pointing out its true origins. The word refers to a process of artist-led gentrification, that is seemingly revolutionary in its ambitions, but in reality simply feeds the status quo and the big money-making corporations. It is THE paradox of liberal democracy, that the middle classes believe they can save the world by opening fair-trade coffee shops and recycling designer clothes.
And no… “Boxpark Spectator Misery” pretty much sums up my attitude.
You have shared your work at the House of Commons, the V&A, and in cabaret settings. Do you find you attract a different audience in each location? How does the venue affect your performance?
My audience follows me everywhere – Hi Mum! Audiences definitely behave differently in different contexts, so, for example, the review of Revolution #10 at the House of Commons (InTRANSIT 2014) refers a lot to context and how art should be read when viewed outside of the traditional gallery or performance space. InTRANSIT is a wonderful festival for working in non-traditional spaces such as Trellick Tower, where we premiered The Ballad of Skinny Lattes and the support of Harry and Helen of O’Neill/Ross, alongside the Arts team at Kensington and Chelsea, has been incredibly important to my practice over the last 5 years.
The great thing about your work is you never know what to expect. So what can we expect from An Other World?
An Other World at the V&A will feature extracts from several companies performing at InTRANSIT 2015, alongside readings, sounds and images, exploring in a light-hearted and satirical way what Utopias mean to all of us. It will be presented as a lecture/symposium accompanied by audience participation in the form of the Releasonium, a new device to liberate participants from the burden of their dreams. Expect nothing and whatever you get will be more than that.
Are you optimistic about the future? Why?
Optimism is in my DNA, I can’t help it. I’d love to be more cynical than I really am. The original Milan futurists presented us with a vision of how humanity and technology could combine together to solve the world’s problems and created some of the finest political artworks ever in the process. I still hold true to that vision.
“Art will not save the world!” (quote from The Manifesto of Neo-Futurism by Rowena Easton)