PHILLIP KREMER STRIKES BACK
All those weeks later it’s still hard to write about what has happened regarding the American election. First and foremost - I am not an American, and no matter how repulsed I was of the outcome and how bad I feel, my feelings are irrelevant and cannot be compared to anyone who is an American, able to understand common sense and has Trump as his/her president now. But I must admit that I was not surprised with the outcome, and I do feel that his presidency, Brexit, Turkey, Nice, Syria, Standing Rock, etc. are all a part of a stranger, larger thing that is coming our way.
I mean, with presidency being basically just for grabs, shit just got real. Anyway, I am in loss for words and I don’t want to give this subject any more credit or press time, also this is not a political essay, this is an interview with an artist who was once banned from Instagram, presumably for offending and mocking Trump with his art (my own opinion). Phillip Kremer is a witty, amusing, ingenious, bold artist, who touches upon contemporary topics - such as the election - and just tries to make something relevant out of it.
I see his work in a very tragic-comic way - it’s tragic because that is now our reality and he is not playing with fantasy subjects, but it is still comic to the point that it makes me laugh and feel something else than disgust. I also think that the mood he creates and evokes is probably common to a lot of other people at this point in time, so I decided to talk to him again (our first interview was conducted at the time he was banned from Instagram).
So post festum of what happened we got together once again and talked about the consequences, what all of this means for the art market and what he’s up to next.
What were your initial thoughts on Trump first winning over Florida, and then, later on, winning the election?
Dismissive at first thinking something had gone terribly wrong with the count, then perplexed. It felt the same as the morning of 9/11 when I turned the tv on and watched the twin towers fall; or any of the other horrible world events happening around the world. I rode the anger, fear and terror through the night until I finally woke up naked and shaking uncontrollably in a pool of sweat.
What happens now?
I’m too tired to fight and I’m too broke to move (sound of bong-rip).
Michael Moore said „everyone must stop saying they are stunned and shocked. What you mean to say is that you were in a bubble and weren’t paying attention to your fellow Americans and their despair. YEARS of being neglected by both parties, the anger and the need for revenge against the system only grew. Along came a TV star they liked whose plan was to destroy both parties and tell them all „You’re fired!” Trump’s victory is no surprise. He was never a joke. Treating him as one only strengthened him. He is both a creature and a creation of the media and the media will never own that.” What are your thoughts on that?
I agree with his message, but he’s preaching to the choir. It’s doubtful that the people these words were aimed at will ever hear it. The right listen to the right and vice-versa. Truth is, American politics as we’ve known it has been terminally ill since 9/11 which is what I think Bin Laden and his crew set out to do. But that’s another discussion.
I also agree that he is a creature, but this one has money and ego. His gold and steak fetish lifestyle appeals to the public, who want the same for themselves. It’s the same bait and switch tactics most politicians use: smoke and mirrors.
What is freedom to you?
The absence of law, stress, worry and underwear.
Do you think him winning the presidency will have any effect on the art market?
Yes. Trump’s tax breaks for the wealthiest will put some of that spending money back in the art pool. With new art fairs popping up every year, setting up tents allows the collector to buy art as if they were at a trendy flea market. They really have no desire to meet the artist or deal with anymore then they already have to. My hope is that the artists themselves will be inspired to create and thrive in the shadow of impending doom.
Will you still continue to produce art inspired by him, and how far do you think you are from another Instagram shutdown? I mean, no matter how horrific this sounds, but now you are not just mocking Trump, you are mocking the President of the United States of America.
I would hope Instagram wouldn’t make the same mistake for a third time. With the help of Houston Public Media, Houston Chronicle, and my beloved Instagram followers I was able to get my account reinstated with an apology from Instagram’s PR guy. However, I do hope Goldilocks has better things to do as president.
What kind of reaction do you hope to get from people, if any?
Any reaction is fine by me but obviously the positive, blown-away reaction is better than some hateful freak. Swipe-delete those bitches. Besides, I’m doing this for myself and my needs. It’s been therapeutic.
Do you like it when people laugh at your work?
Of course! Most of the pictures I make are meant to have a humorous undertone. Especially the bangs over one eye. Subtle, yet makes you giggle. I’m not looking to be an entertainer or comedian, I just want to capture the viewer‘s attention, just long enough for them to forget about their problems in life.
Could you live without art?
No. Art has saved me from myself too many times.
Is it important for you that your work has a political connotation?
No, but it’s super fun to look up pictures of some of these goons I hear about on my Al Jazeera news feed and mess with their faces. People seem to get a good laugh out of it and the images get spread around, making it much more likely that Trump will see what I’ve done to him and call me out on his twitter feed.
Where does your interest in art even come from?
Nowhere, it’s always been there.
And lastly - what is next for you?
Nothing. Cash out and move to Cuba I guess.
Words Katja Horvat
Images Phillip Kremer