Generally, I’m one of those who think that a good idea makes ones smile. In France, we don’t present Thomas Mailaender any more and indeed he’s one of my favourite artist at this moment. Pionnier of the french “contre culture” he’s constantly between the “bad joke” and the “Capital Idea”. So, as Caroline Niément from Peeping Tom tells us very well in “A very serious job” (a kind of monography published by The fun archive in 2011): “Thomas Mailaender focuses on the source material and subjects and appropriates and diverts found images from the Internet, flea markets and the like. He’s an insatiable and compulsive collector of photographs and sociological patterns. One of his major investigations is a typological survey, inventory and recycling of human behavior, particularly hobbies and incidental activities, using entertainment as a substance and a means to develop his practice. Through his mise en abyme of the frivolous he allows a multitude of amateur and/or vernacular objects, images and customs to attain the status of artworks, repeatedly questioning the notion of artistic legitimacy.” That’s why it seems to me we all have to know his work … So, I was very glad to interview Thomas Mailaender last week for Wandering Bears.
Items – a serie of 9 portraits, mixed media – Each picture c-print 15 x 22,5 cm in a 50 x 60 cm frame.
LG. First, I personally don’t consider you as a strict and hard line photographer, however, photography holds a major role in your work. According to you which position or role does photography take in your artistic research ?
TM. When a new project comes in my mind i have to found out a way to make it happen and it’s often deals with photography. But i am now thinking of retiring from photography, i mean “retirement” like someone who think he did his time and then decide to wear sleepers all day when he is not out in fishing trip with pals. I mostly prefer to collect images and play with it; Yesterday i did a video of me eating one black and white picture.
LG. For me your work is a real symbol of freedom in its simplest and most logical form, so what’s freedom to you ?
TM. Real freedom for me is to go fishing and drinking with my (male) friends and considering the work i think freedom for an artist is to let himself go from project to project whitout the fear of leaving the tracks.
LG. As we are in the special France month on Wandering bears, so, I really wanted to ask you; what are your french influences ? in art as well as in life of course?
TM. – “The Incoherent” or “Hydropate movement”, with satirical poets like Alphonse Allais or Paul Bilhaud
who invented the monochrome at the end of the 19th century far before Yves Klein (Negroes Fighting In a Cellar at Night, 1882).
– or Jacques Lizène who is not at all french but from Lieges, Belgium, and who claim himself “inventeur de l’art nul”.
LG. What is Fun Archive publications ? Do you think edition can be an extension of a masterpiece or are they two totally different things ? In fact, what are your thoughts about edition, nowadays ?
TM. I decided to create The Fun Archive publications 2 years ago. This publication house has already published or co-published 6 books of mine. I created it because some of my projects are meant to be books and i didn’t want to loose my time searching for some editors.
I consider books as much as pieces, some project are better displayed on the wall but other are only made to be edited as books.
I am a book collector but i realise that i don’t buy so many books from my contemporary, mostly dead artists.
L’union fait la farce – newspaper – 16 pages – published by The Fun Archive et La cuisine – 2012.
This publication is the fruit of the last residence and exhibition of Thomas Mailaender which took place in january 2012 at La Cuisine art center – Negreplisse / France.
“Pour une bonne farce il faut avant tout des gros oignons car n’oublies jamais que c’est l’oignon qui fait la sauce.”