ORIGINALLY FEATURED LSD MAGAZINE
Issue Eight – Walls of Perception – November 23rd 2011
Dripping with the original spirit of punk and a relentless flood of socially, politically and consciously engaged ideas, French artist Goin is priming the charges and leaving creativity’s spark to light the fuse of a new humanist activism. Emancipation, liberation, rebellion and the punishing vagaries of power’s endless cycles of corruption run deep into his work as powerful aesthetics take shape under the conceptual hammer. Laced with a superbly black sense of humour and a forcefulness – a visceral energy that bursts off his pieces Goin’s work wreaks chaos onto order and snatches moments of lucid disorder out of the volatile forge of history’s spiral.
Based at the radically creative, open air temple of mutation, the Demeure de Chaos or Abode of Chaos near Lyon, Goin spins concept, critique and cognition into an ever fluctuating flurry of media, subverting mass media through innovative media as stencils, paints and sculptures whistle through the eye of vandal kits, blood filled spray cans and molotov cocktails. Urgent, militant, uncompromising and anarchic – in every sense of the word – from the tearing down of authority to the ultimately idealist vision of redemption through self actualised awareness where expression pierces smokescreen and art rides conscience into an elusive dawn. We spoke….
What did punk mean to you
First and foremost, punk for me represents freedom and subversion. It’s the crow that flies free through the air above all the so-called do-gooders who wish it dead. It’s the rat that we can’t wait to exterminate but that we forget we created. Born out of disorder as a response to the chaos of the 20th century, it’s a rebellion against all illegitimate authority, and could be seen as the Dada of music. The straw that broke the camel’s back, the spark that makes everything explode in your face when all you want is the security of sleeping quietly. The “No Future” of the punk era is now!
How much did the sense that ‘anyone can do it’ that was at the core of punk democratize art in all its forms
That’s definitely what I had in mind when I started to paint. And if I can do it, then everyone can do it! Imagine an exhibition where everyone could exhibit, with neither preconception nor moral and aesthetic limitation – well, such a place does exist and it’s the street. Punk, hip hop and graffiti are cultures that are built out of the idea that ‘anyone can do it’. They’re open, alive, free and expressive forms where everyone has a place and can bring their touch, their style, and their individuality to make a difference… Everyone is unique and so everyone can do it!
Is rebellion an end in itself or just a starting point?
Rebellion should never be an end in itself. We do not rebel for the sake of rebellion, we rebel to reach a specific goal. The spirit of rebellion is an innate human instinct to fight against injustice and that which we disagree with and it marks both disobedience and a new dawn. Rebellion is driven by outrage and I invite everyone to find their own cause, their own source of justified fury – there are so many these days! Art is a rebellion, rebellion is an art.
What drew you to pop art
Punk and skating culture. It all began in 1994 – at the time I was playing guitar in a punk rock band. Fabien, the bassist drew our album covers, so I was naturally attracted to the visual elements as he put targeted, personal spins on popular icons used by the mainstream media who ‘manipulate the masses’ I started creating skateboards, tshirts and stickers for my own skate line, ‘Everyday’ that I had set up with my brother Nicolas. This ‘anti-design’ movement attracted me more and more as I tried to find a way of getting away from the classic ‘marketing’ techniques driving music groups and existing skate brands, and it was basically that step that led me to cutting my first stencil and headingout to paint it ’free’ in the street. I don’t do pop art, but even so, there’s no doubt that street art is heavily infused with it. Street art is the bastard child of pop art beholden to neither religion nor law – ‘sans foi ni loi‘ – lawless and infinitely freer and more open than any existing art form.
Pop art has already posed the question of where the line is even as it crossed that line. It is intent, function and context that distinguishes art from advertising, so at core, they do share the same language – a strange twist being that in art, it’s as if we’re selling advertising itself. But there’s the rub – advertising is always selling something – it all comes down to that one purpose whereas art stands on its own merits – its own identity as it transmits a message for free without artificial boundaries rather than just for the money. Advertising is art in the service of capitalism. A great œuvre tells a great story – it has the power to change spirits and minds. However, as soon as you start to write ‘Never work’ or ‘No Future’ on a wall, you are entering the arena of recognition, public identification and the ‘hallmark’ of discourse – and the brand we arrive at is a logo. To be using such tools within a public forum is to already be playing the marketing game – but for what cause…. that is the difference.
Is it a duty to interact with cities
The street is one of the best ways to disseminate ideas and paintings to thousands of people. So yes, it is a duty, even if you sometimes do most of the work in the studio to inject time and detail into a piece, we have to contunually kick ourselves in the arse to get out and communicate with the world… And then there’s the adrenaline rush of illegality which swallows you into its infernal spiral and leaves an eternal longing to feel it again. On a tactical level, social fabric is woven very tight in urban environments, so the image travels faster and deeper through hearts and minds. People never perceive a message the same way as in the street, where the surprise and the inherent unexpectedness gives an immeasurable dimension to the work.
Tell us about the Abode of Chaos
The Abode of Chaos – La Demeure du Chaos is a monumental work of art located in France near Lyon in a small bourgeois village where you see nothing but calm, luxury and pleasure. Since 1999 and especially the 11/09/2001, the owner Thierry Ehrmann began to transform his 12000m2 property into a work of art ‘in situ’. Fragments of meteorites, helicopters struck the ground, charred skeletons of cars, graffiti painted on the giant walls, floors and roofs, paintings of current affairs, portraits of personalities, menacing sculptures of rusty metal, the embers of fires, beams and concrete bunker… It’s a sort of Mad Max version of Warhol’s Factory with a healthy dose of The Matrix thrown in.
At the Abode, we carve and paint today’s world as it is and that’s what bothers the petty bourgeois guardians of ‘upstanding’ morals. It is humanist to its foundations and we fight in the name of freedom of speech and free expression. When one is dealing with ‘intellectual terrorism’ by the French courts we smile sweetly and write truth all over the walls the following day … The enemies of freedom are our best agents! But above all, the Abode is a place to live where resident artists share, reflect, play, debate, create and love!
In speaking of sculpture I identify closest with Marcel Duchamp and his ‘ready made’ concept where the idea takes precedence over the aesthetic. A 10 Euro bust at the flea market heavily customized back in the studio is perfect for my purposes of getting an idea across. . I do not sculpt myself but I spin sculptures, I work them, I assemble, I mold, I paint … The day may come when I have a go at ‘real’ sculpture but for now I’m just happy playing with my ‘Almost ready made’ …
Tell us about painting in your own blood – why – what was it saying, and how did it feel
I felt like a prehistoric man of modern times who was resurrecting ancestral practices where both the stencil and the blood were the primal elements of creation . At core – the blood – the fluid of life, the one material par excellence whether born of love and hate. And then the stencil – the story of light and shadow. What better artistic medium way to cry disgust at this fucked up world? Something powerful, but done with respect And then there’s the can – spray paint, the almost religious symbol of graffiti and street art! Using a can was absolutely primordially fundamental to me and filling it with my blood was like a tribute to the street.
How was the reaction
Two or three people fainted during the performance and one lunatic told me that she hoped I’d die of cancer for what I’d done, but in general – it was pretty positive. Whether people like or disliked it is for them and it’ s their right to take it however they felt it – the important factor for me was that they understood the message I wanted to get across.
Religious imagery is firmly anchored and deeply rooted in the collective unconscious. It’s like McDonald’s existed for 2,000 years, and people were having Ronald appear to them, seeing hallucinatory visions of a Big Mac or claiming the stigmata in ketchup in truth – McDonald’s are not far off and they’ve only been at it for 60 years or so. So imagine the power of these ancient religious symbols after thousands of years filtering through our consciousness! That’s why I inject fresh meaning into their weapons of mass propaganda in my paintings –it’s a good way to get deep and powerful messages quickly understood by all while also awakening a sense of timeless, primal, cyclical ideas.
What is anarchy
Over and above the absence of single authority, anarchy is more a philosophical concept that a political system for me … I agree with Hakim Bey in his essay on the TAZ (Temporary Autonomous Zone) when he said that true anarchy can only exist in space and never in time. Otherwise it will eventually organize and the original ideas will dissolve, be prostituted and eventually end up as the same system we fought against. Anarchy is a dream, and like any dream if you believe hard enough, it can become reality, but that reality is so often very different from what one had imagined … Anarchy is dead, long live anarchy!
Are we approaching a critical phase in redefining the social contract or will protest be forgotten when the economic crisis ends
The crisis is not just economic, it runs far deeper…. it is a crisis of conscience.The endless cycle of revolution gliding anew through people’s minds. Yes, the social contract will certainly be redefined – revolution, reaction, betrayal, the state stands stronger and even more repressive – the wheel turns, the story unfolds again and again. State after state, each ‘paradise’ is administered by yet another angel from hell. I have not given up hope or even expectation of change but until power ‘disappears’ our will to power must be its disappearance.
It’s a fine line, and when we reach it, we are called ‘Borderline’. Psychosis and your sanity are demons and angels, your dreams and your realities. Everyone is more or less borderline, and I’m happy to state my wish to be openly borderline. Crossing that line is intensely positive within art – this madness of the artistic act, the force majeure of creative mania has allowed man to build and create extraordinary and wonderful things for thousands of years.
How much of an influence has Banksy been on you
I discovered Banksy while sourcing a photograph of rat on the internet for one of my first stencils I entitled “Ratnarchy.” I would have probably done more rat stencils if I hadn’t seen that he had ‘d already caned the concept and it was only later when I heard that Blek le Rat had also done it 20 years before Banksy that I felt I could go out and paint more.. Who says a small Chinese guy never made a rat stencil without the influence of Banksy or Blek le Rat! But cutting through all the gossip, Banksy certainly has been a major influence on me and I recognize myself in his in your face finesse and leftfield humor.
Are there any particular stencil cutting techniques that you use that really put your spin on the image
The stencil technique is so simple that I cannot possibly claim to have one special to me. Apart from the choice of cardboard, rhodoïd and the cutting tool, the technique is universal and ancient. That said, it is true that style comes in the cutting and the curve … It depends on the stencil, sometimes I prefer an angular, jerky cut while in other contexts, I cut in a very fluid and flexible manner. But the most important part for me is the visual concept, and when all’s said and done, I won’t stress to reach a level of technique worthy of a goldsmith or a savant. If the meaning is there, the technique is just a tool to support it. And never forget that technique does not equate to complexity.