art & anger management

Francesca Di Giorgio - Rainer Ganahl , 2012   -  for espoarte (Italian art magazine, feb marz 2012)

(unedited, as usual not even read by me)

Francesca Di Giorgio: The political dimension of your work seems to be that of very seriously and, at the same time, ironic person. Lawrence Weiner once said that “Art is not for people who are happy. Art is for people who are angry”. What about the feeling of anger and its opposite?
RG: Very funny. I just met Lawrence yesterday and after having made him a complement he told me: Oh , stop it Rainer, Used to be only gay artists would complement each others work. Yes, anger has played quite some role in my life but with few exception I look at my anger management as successful. Since this is for an Italian art magazine I want to just point out that I have been beaten by the police in Bologna in the 1980s over nothing and illegally detained for hours, I have been sexually abused by Palermo police unites when I was a teenager. They  made me strip down, bend over, and then “looked for drugs” in my anus and had great fun in front of other male officers. On a current note, I am having troubles getting paid by Italians for my art; I am about to litigate in court against ARTRA gallery since they stole my art work, and sold me an unauthenticated Boetti without replacement. Another non-authenticated Boetti was also sold to me by an Italian gallery operating in Germany. I could continue with that line of writing and add many more episodes but I prefer telling you about my response: the non-authenticated Boetti turned into the works: CECI N’EST PAS UNE PIPE, ALLEGHIERI E BOETTI, (see: and recent anger over a dealer I don’t want to even mention resulted in the series FONTANAGANAHL, CONCETTO DI RABBIA / CONCEPT OF RAGE. (
As a bicyclist I have also many, many reasons to be angry and have therefore lots of provocative works that are themselves aggressive. For example, I bicycle without holding the handlebar against traffic and more: The current economic crisis is also touching me privately more than acceptable and that also drives me made. My answer to this is here: This are only a few examples were anger might be one of the agencies but I stop here. 


2_Usually your works develop over years. What significance does time have in your research? And memory?

RG: This is a good question. Often, when I start a work I don’t really know what I am doing. So it takes me time and early results to pull me more and more into something. It is almost in like in life, that a certain kind of repetition is necessary to really touch upon things. By repetition, I don’t mean to repeat myself but to work things over and over and to continue. For example: When I first started to learn a language as a conceptual art praxis, I was not debarking immediately on a life-long project that includes the study of five more languages for over 20 years. The same goes with my bike projects that had their origin in even a romantic context and then started to become more and more focused. And so is my work with DADALENIN ( and with ALFRED JARRY (IWANNABEALFRREDJARRY.ME) and so with my China projects. (IWANNBECHINESE.COM). Time for me is also money but it is also reflecting, learning, adjusting and inventing. It helps to create an identity and shapes perception and focus. I keep elaborating on certain subjects as long as they teach me something. Once, my interests and topics get exhausted I move on and often as a changed person.

3_Although your works are not exactly site-specific take the public contexts into account. How do you relate to environment, situation...? What is your audience?

RG: I think almost everything I have done in my life is in reaction to something. I even became an artist by accident. I just happened to met a New Yorker hitchhiking in Italy and I went to visit him as a philosophy student. That guy happened to be an artist and worked for Nam June Paik. Thus I encountered art and met crazy people like Warhol, Basquiat, Paik and others personally in 1985 in New York. When I returned back to Austria it became clear what I wanted to do. I go with the flow but when I start disliking the flow I swim against the stream.  There is also a great component of good (and sometimes bad luck) in my decision making. It is a bit like hitchhiking as a teenage hippy in the 1970s: it didn’t really matter on which plaza, on which bridge, in which house you were ending up as long as it was fun and promised pleasure. Often, I am confronted with stupidity and that too is inspiring. Stupidity is a driving force in life and I am not exempt from being stupid myself when the situation allows or when I am just too silly, too dumb, too tired to do better. I am also plenty of mistakes. But that also requires corrections, hence it’s a good background to work against.

I always feel I have a very small audience. Without outing me here as a typical narcissist, I of course make works that is interest for me. So I am de facto the first person to see the work, to approve it or disapprove of it. Hence, I kind of cater to me as others, or others as me. But doing so – and this might bring me back to your earlier question about time – it takes time and repetition to communicate, to share my esthetic and conceptual pleasure with others. I do of course realize and often with frustration when I see other people overwhelmed, knocked out and left behind by the volume and complexity of my work. This clustering is also the result of the fact that often my works communicate with each others, that they refer to each other without being dependent on each other.

For example, when historical, literary or socio-economic contexts and references are involved as in my CREDITCRUNCH, DADALENIN or I WANNA BE ALFRED JARRY works, it most likely much more rewarding if you know the references. Even the I WANNA BE CHINESE / DINGHI - E.BICYCLES FROM CHINA it is not only helpful to first recognize the original song I rewrote and re-recorded (Tu voi far l Americano) but also to know about the Sino-Italian relationships, the role e-mobility plays in China and the importance of rare earth components in battery and electric motors that are nearly entirely controlled by China. Hence, “tu voi far Ame-Chinese” can only be fully understood against that knowledge. Now, do I wish to have such a public: yes; do I get such a audience: in many cases not; is the work still understandable and can be somehow understood: yes it can. But hopefully, it makes a spectator to learn more about it.


4_Another element that we often find in your projects is physical implication and handiwork. For example Credit Crunch Meal...

RG: Well, there are plenty of works where skills don’t play any role. But recently, skills have been playing a role in the production of my works. This is also the result of chance encounters with skilled collaborators, a learning curve in my own work and simply an enlargement of my artistic palette if you pardon this classical metaphor. In this case I collaborate with skilled personal and find solutions that I can afford and justify. Recently, I found pleasure in participating in this re-skillling process and take up drawing and now even painting. I am just working on a number of oil paintings of a real cut off pig head in front of an authentic Giorgio Morandi still life. I myself refused to take any drawing or painting classes as an art student and will hence embark into this oil painting project as a novice – also something I’m curious to see the outcome. Since I believe in recycling, I will make a film with it, I will use the paintings independent of their outcome and I will even use the bloody pig head as long as possible: It will be placed in front of a fake Morandi I commissioned by an accomplished painter – hence yet another new combination piece and something I have learned from other artworks of mine.


5_Your works and also your exhibitions often contains various elements: drawings, objects, photographs, food etc... How methods and technics media are cobined? Could you explain your personal idea of mixed media?

RG: I do what I do , what the situation requests and allows and what I can justify. Remember the most important point about any artwork is not how good it looks or how well it sells (my art works sell very rarely but it happens – and I seem to have luck with other Alpine people like me) but how it can be justified, how much sense it makes to ad yet another object to the endless seeming line of art production. I personally never liked the term “mixed media” since I reminds me of media markets. Anything is media and doesn’t need to be named as such. I prefer just naming things what they are – and anything is good for me if it makes sense.

New York, January 12, 2012