Heather Jones: You’ve been described as a curator, artist, critic, performer, and even pop-singer. Can you describe your working practice in relationship to these different labels? Do you take on different roles depending on the project, or do you have a more fluid definition of these terms?
Mathias Kryger: The different fields of practice you mention are the means through which I engage in the art world and make the majority of my income. At times, there is a palpable pressure to focus on one or the other as if I would be infidel when working in more ways than one – a distrust not unlike the kind that bi– or a-sexuals, vegetarians or non-alcohol drinkers are met with in this region. Other people seem to suggest that I am a spy who has come from art history into art making without pledging allegiance to either side of the (iron)curtain. Though a lot of people do inhabit multiple functions – I could mention Jeremy Deller, whom I admire a lot…
For me working is not so much about fluidity as it is about skills, sensibilities and criticality. Basically, I love the discourses and the institutions of the art world – not only the ones at the centre but also those on the peripheries.
I do not feel as strongly about the discourse or institutions of the music industries, but singing is a way to practice, and is integral to my work and one of my favourite things to do in the world, however painful it may be. I think I need some serious therapy to unlock the issues around this… I have tons of queer shame, some internalised homophobia and gender issues perhaps stemming from when my voice broke and I could no longer sing in the same octave as Whitney Houston… her and I were suddenly parted by those eight notes…
HJ: Your practice has a strong focus on performance, although your understanding of performance differs from the common definition. Can you describe your approach to performance a bit more?
MK: I like to say that I understand the concept of performance to include (caramelised) competition; achievement; administration; execution; collectivity; disagreement and resistance. I keep changing or shifting around the words, but the overall intention is to de-instrumentalize the concept of performance, and to remain critical to the way that everything in the world is enveloped in expectations and needs for constant accomplishment. Having said that, I am in love with the specialised body, that of the dancer, the bodybuilder, the actor, the swimmer, the singer and the gymnast – that the performance shapes the body. I watched some of the Olympics the other day and the commentators mentioned how the training of the gymnasts may have an arresting effect on the growth of the gymnasts’ bodies and that after they retire and stop training and competing, they start to grow taller.
Also for me, writing is very much about performance and about creating and taking part in the world, and sharing through desires and emotions, rather than understanding writing as a representation of the world in the medium of text.