Undernight Screen (Panel 3 of 9)
Detail of painted screen for the projection of the animations. 1m x 1,5m. Total size 1m x 9 m. (Nine Panels) Athens 2007.
Mixed Media (Oil, spray, pencil and pastels on canvas).
q)Please tell us your name and where you practice.
a)My given name is Panagiotis Hadjistefanou, and my artistic alias is nanogod (no capitals, please). I live and work in Berlin.
q) Why do you make art?
a)Because I cannot do anything else. Art is my destiny, and as such it is not only inescapable, but also its own sake. I strongly believe that in order to be an artist one must devote himself to what he does with the fervor and perseverance of a monk. Anything else for me is dilettantism, and I abhor it.
q) How do you work?
a)I work constantly, fixatedly, as if on a mission. The medium, as far as I am concerned, is not important. I paint, draw, sculpt, work in all kinds of computer software, compose music, make films, photograph, and write. But all these activities have a common denominator: me and my obsessions.
q) What´s your background?
a)It’s complicated. My father is Greek, my mother is Uruguayan - an extremely rare and exotic mix. I studied in St. Martin’s School of Art in London, which has affected me quite a lot in terms of how I approach creativity and the world of art. I have lived in Athens, London, New York, Paris and Berlin. I have travelled extensively, from Miami to Sudan, so I feel I am a citizen of the world. I have no real sense of national identity.
q) What role does the artist have in society?
a)I can only speak about myself, since to define one role for all artists would be either absurd or fascist. My work attempts to illustrate the inexplicably sublime, as if art is the religion of the incredible and I am a hagiographer of saints who believe in nothing.
q) What was a seminal experience for you?
a)To become a household name by speaking out, loud and clear, against the forces of evil cannibalizing Greek society. I happen to be very famous in the land where I was born, Greece. This is because I have taken a very public and active stance against the decadent and fascist elite that is ruling the country by violence, terror and Machiavellian conspiracies against the people.
I am considered a revolutionary icon for intellectuals and artists there, and adored by the people for being courageous and not collaborating with the dictatorship. Before I went into exile in Berlin, I used to write in major Greek newspapers, appear regularly on national TV channels etc. Of course, my activism only led to my ruthless persecution. There have been 3 assassination attempts against me in Greece, two armed ones and one by poisoning. Sometimes I wonder how I have managed to stay alive.
q) Has your practice changed over time?
a)My practice has changed only to the extent that I have changed as a person myself. As I said above, the medium and form for me is not important, what they communicate is always the same, my progress towards oblivion or eternity.
q) What art do you most identify with?
a)I feel a particular affinity for any artist who was damned by his own existential narrative, and his art expressed directly the suffering he endured. From Caravaggio, to Francis Bacon, to Jack Smith, to Tennessee Williams, to Bas Jan Adder, the examples are too many to mention here. For me, an artist is only true when he is true to himself.
q) What´s your strongest memory of your childhood?
q) What themes do you pursue ?
a)The futility and perfidy of hope, the loyalty and honesty of despair.
q) Describe a real life experience that inspired you.
a)My source of inspiration is the devoutness that burns my soul when I look for love in places where misanthropy is cultivated by the inability of strangers to communicate their vulnerability to each other.
q) What´s your most embarrassing moment?
a)I am never embarrassed by anything because I am fully aware that I am just another aggregation of human frailty, failure and fault.
q) What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
a)Being an artist is not a job, but a calling. Anything that I have been obliged to do in order to pay the rent and eat is a form of prostitution as far as I am concerned, so you can say that I have been a whore. It does not really matter if I was working as a journalist, or a doorman. The feeling is the same. To work in any field except art and writing for me is about strangers paying money to use my body and my soul according to their filthy, evil priorities.
q) What responses have you had to your work?
a)I am considered the most important artist and writer of my generation in my homeland and this opinion is held not only by me, but also by such people as the important collector Mr. Dakis Joannou, who has kindly supported me for quite a long time.
q) What do you dislike about the art world?
There is no such thing as the art world. You are probably referring to the legions of parasites that make their living out of manipulating and abusing the work of artists. I try to ignore them as much as possible, and I am happy to pay the cost of my stance towards them.
q) What research do you do?
a)I don’t research, I discover accidentally, by allowing myself to be constantly exposed to the muse of poetry.
q) What is your dream project?
a)To die as a free man.
q) What´s the best piece of advice you have been given ?
a)I do not accept any kind of advice, I treasure my mistakes over the wisdom of others. Mistakes are nobler than art.
q) What couldn’t you do without?
a)Sleep, a roof over my head, some food for me and my cat, health insurance. A bit of sex with kind strangers now and again is also welcome.
q) What makes you angry?
a)I am particularly irritated by unjustly privileged idiots who believe that their financial or social position allows them to exist as anything else but figures of ridicule. I also hate uneducated fools who voice their opinions solely based on their ability to speak even if nobody asked them to. In the end though, I always decide that my anger is too precious to waste on such people.
q) What is your worst quality?
a)Probably the fact that I defend, support, and protect my loneliness as if it was the love of my life.
q) Dogs or Cats ?
a)I consider all binary dilemmas a form of blackmail, and I never succumb to their extortions. At the same time, I confess I am a slave of Remix, my beautiful orange cat who rules my life with his imperial ego and constant demands.
q) Making art is a lot like being on LSD. Know what I mean?
a)Yes, I have experimented with hallucinogenics in my youth. The common factor between lysergic visions and creating art is the departure from what is commonly accepted as reality.
q) What does “copy” mean to you?
a)Replicas, duplicates, twins, simulacra, counterfeits, decoys, mannequins, portraits, genetic cloning, war games, camouflage, instant replays, digital imaging, parrots, photocopies, wax museums, apes, art forgeries, DNA – copy is everything, everything is copy.
q) What´s your favorite cuss word?