1 Please briefly introduce your different roles in Estonian cultural life.
I am a professor, and hold the Chair of Composition at the Estonian Academy of Arts. I do not belong in the board of the Academy. I am a member of the council of the Estonian Artists‰ Association, a member of the Free Graphics Association, member of the curatorial committee of the Rotermann‰s Salt Storage, Chairman of the Tallinn Art Hall Council, member of the Pärnu New Art Museum‰s Curatorial Committee, Corresponding member of the Academy of Fine Arts, member of the court of honour of the Estonian Architects‰ Association, member of the organising committee of the Nordic-Baltic Architecture Triennial, editor-in-chief of Arhitektuur, the publication of Estonian Architects‰ Association and a member of the study council of Helsinki‰s MAA art school. The only salary I receive is for the professorship.
2 What are the artist‰s opportunities nowadays for being an executor of power, for having a dialogue with authorities?
An artist should not be concerned with questions of power. If journalism is termed the fourth power in society, then the creative intelligentsia constitutes the fifth which, depending on the state of the society in question, acquires the role of litmus paper, of a nurse, a prophet, a penitent, an insurrectionist or something else.
We are active in spheres which are out of reach of the authorities – where the heart is more important than the mind, where invisible forces and rules which have not been put down on paper reign.
The only thing we have to bargain authorities about is the freedom to do our work as we please. The state should acknowledge that we are necessary and support us. State functionaries should not despise or be ashamed of us. They should be proud of us and wish to shake our hand.
3 Who would you choose as a travelling companion and why
a) Timothy Leary
b) Frank Zappa
c) Tom of Finland
d) Geometrical person
Frank Zappa, of course. In the 1970s, I had all his records. An extraordinary, creative person.
I hope we shall meet in heaven!
4 Your strongest spiritual or satori-experience as an artist?
Spiritual experience is continual, and grows stronger with the years. The main thing is that your mind remains clear and your heart pure, then the inner light increases.
5 What is your opinion about eroticising politics and politicising the erotic?
Politics is seething with all sort of activity. It could be much more lively; although many politicians are driven by dark passions and suppressed desires, I still think that power causes impotence, and thus have no yearnings for power. Tao does not permit any form of power until you are 63 – if you elect me, we‰ll see.
Eroticism is power in itself – men should know the powerful feeling of an orgasm. No need for any political decorations here – fuck and enjoy it!
6 What role should an artist have in any future media society?
Rather the same, I would say, as in Stone Age, or in Gutenberg‰s time – to give people food for their souls, to build a bridge to the intellectual world. Rumours about a media epoch as such have been exaggerated. Because human joy and suffering continue even in front of TV screens. After all, we have to take the human being as a yardstick, and not worry about some pink fog surrounding us, or take seriously tales that resemble the Communist myths of the past. I am afraid that after the initial enthusiasm has passed, people will soon get tired of the new media society, pick up their axe and go to hack a hole in the ice in order to gaze into it for hours. Or they will stare at the reflection of the moon in the evening as a good example of the combination of reality and virtual reality. I think we should intensively move towards acquiring primary knowledge.
7 How do you evaluate the art of Oleg Kulik?
I saw his work at the Venice Biennale, where you had to stick your head into a cow‰s arse, and even stand in a queue to do so. No thanks. I have had my time as a shepherd in my childhood and I know perfectly well what comes out of a cow‰s behind. Kulik is not for me, because I have seen much more colourful and genuine Russian things during the occupation. Let Kulik amuse sterile western bluestockings, although it seems to me that Zhirinovski is doing this rather more efficiently, and if that‰s not enough, there‰s always an enterprising Russian muzhik who could easily declare war on them – then there‰d be enough shit and blood for everyone! Let us distance ourselves from western academic naturalism – we, the representatives of former homo soveticus with our grim experiences!
8 Which of the following meetings would you attend, and why?
a. a session of the heritage protection society
b. a club of manic flagellants
c. a parents‰ evening at a school
d. the board of the Artists‰ Association
The Board of the Artists‰ Association because I am an elected member and must fulfil my duty as a citizen. The Association is one of the few institutions that protects the interests of artists.
9 What does it feel like to be a living monument of the Estonian heroic avant garde?
I do not feel like a monument because I do new things all the time. I can‰t be bothered by local myths, let them call me what they like – it‰s a lie anyway!
I just feel like any elderly person whose body is slowly crumbling with age, but whose mind improves like a good wine. So I drink the wine to console myself, until I become a spirit, because bodies have no future!
10 Are the classic works untouchable?
What are classic works anyway? Who decides? What does being touchable or untouchable mean? You are welcome to touch my works, get your hands on them. Filth has been poured over them, they have been broken into pieces before; I have destroyed my own new and old works myself, this is my right, but if someone starts damaging my work under my very eyes, he gets his teeth knocked out. What follows my mortal life, is not in my hands – everything earthly disappears anyway, turns into emptiness, becomes free of the pain of being a man or a cliff. Try to soak in water for thousands of years – it‰s no fun.
To me the notion of classics is primarily connected with schoolbooks. Young people should be treated to secondary knowledge, myths, so that they could have a hard time to smash them later, because maybe this is what life is all about – to live it in the role of a human being.
(11.) Finally, the question of the questions to the interviewer that he forgot to ask – what is happiness?