Today I would like to introduce you to the Happy Famous Artists. A group of artists, who render the Now irrelevant, cater to the strategy of tension, fulfill the demands of celebrity, and pledge to deliver cultural products with investment potential. Their desire for world domination has driven them together and around the world with their projects.
Their philosophical manifest and projects are as amusing as they are confusing and when I checked their website the other day I didn’t know if I should laugh or feel stupid. In the end I did both and couldn’t help but contact the Holy Trinity to answer my questions and fill the gaps in my superficial papier-mâché philosophy.
When did you start working together?
HFA (Happy Famous Artists) was founded in 2001, as a logical continuation of the fab female duo, namely The Happy Female Artist (which was the brainchild of Intelligensius Anarchus and her friend and co-patriot, Klara Jiraskova). From 2001 till 2008, HFA consisted of Intelligensius Anarchus & Jeff Blind (Jeff is currently stirring Trouble in Wonderland), with Rick B contributing texts here and there. From 2009 we reshuffled and our current formation is The Holy Trinity: Intelligensius Anarchus, The Great Attractor & Rick B.
Who does what? Is there a clear division of labor?
IA: Dictator Queen
TGA: Strategic Genius
RB: Mysterious Ideologist
…for more detailed description visit http://happyfamousartists.com/contact/
How do you work together? E.g. who comes up with the concept and how do you go from there?
We’re now working on a first big project since our new configuration. The 2 of us – Intelligensius Anarchus, The Great Attractor ¬– are actually partners in life, as well as in art. By doing things together, from travelling and seeing exhibitions, through reading books and examining our immediate surroundings, we generate a lot of ideas. Our third partner, Rick B, is based in Wales, but we talk via Skype several times a week to exchange ideas and inspiration. Also, our current project has necessitated a lot of preparatory research and text. Discussion and writing can be done long distance reasonably well due to the technologies. When possible, the 3 of us get together in the real world for periods of intensive work and refining of what we drafted earlier.
When clicking through your numerous websites I still had trouble understanding what you actually do. Is that on purpose? Do you like to stay obscure?
A certain mystery is always welcome, but the truth is slightly more prosaic: we just need to update our numerous websites, improve the structures and add the artwork photos to bring some order into the chaos.
I also noticed that everything you do is very philosophical…to a point even where it makes me feel a little stupid, because I can’t remember what I learned about Heidegger or Hegel at university. I assume that I’m not the only art lover who feels that way when confronted with your art. How do people react? Do they pretend to understand or make an effort to actually do?
Many of our older works are in one way or another linked to Nietzsche or Wittgenstein, but they’re otherwise pretty self-explanatory. No need to read Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in order to understand the Who the Fuck Is Wittgenstein series, neither Also sprach Zarathustra to enjoy the Philosophical Bowling.
And we definitely never touched bastards like Heidegger or Hegel, get real! In fact the common denominator for the works created between 2001-2008 was “what you see is not what you get”, namely “don’t get fooled by first impressions”. Our aim was to draw attention to absurd situations, which we encountered on many different levels: in everyday life, within the art world or history of art, in socio-political context or just by browsing through the Internet. If any anti-obscurantism was obscure perhaps a certain educational paradigm where wit and wonder is discouraged still confounds communication…Or whatever…
Nowadays we work a lot with elements from the social media & we investigate how digital life and real life are influencing the way people think and behave. Again, the aim is not to create complex philosophical concepts.
Rather than difficult, we’d characterize our work as layered, and as such we hope to create pieces that work on many different levels: aesthetically, conceptually, because of the subversive theme, because of their humor… it is all OK with us, as long as there’s communication and delight.
Have you ever considered easy art, to please the masses/collectors? Wouldn’t that make it easier to sell?
But our art is easy & we like to please the masses! In fact we want to get the masses on our side and rule with an iron fist. It’s on our “to do” list immediately after the update of our websites.
You are also very blunt about your intention to make money with art (e.g. ‘profits make freedom’, art is marketing). How do people react to your bluntness?
Oh, they are charmed and they just throw money at us.
What is the most expensive piece of art you’ve ever sold? How did it feel?
Classified information and it felt fucking great.
What other reason besides making money and career prompted you to be artists? Or is it all a farce and did you adapt this attitude to be less vulnerable as an artist?
Vulnerability as a strategy has its uses but always beware someone saying they are telling you the truth, however we share the same impulses of exhibitionism and uncontrollable desire for world domination. And not to forget, art also has a therapeutic aspect, it helped us to stop drinking… well most of us anyway.