19 th of August 2014

interview with Bizarre Beyond Belief culture magazine based in Canada .issue n 14.

What began Jaybo Monk's journey into the creative fields of arts and fashion?

I started becoming interested in drawing when I discovered it was a way for me to escape my surroundings, at first I was drawing things in my head and later because I wanted to sharpen my skills, I began drawing bodies I saw in front of me. My first memories about art was seeing the cave drawings in the Lascaux Cavern in the South of France, which I guess did end up making a huge impact on me. I also remember sitting with my mother watching her drawing different haircut styles for the local hair dresser's displays. Drawing has always been a part of my life since the day I started. As far as designing clothes back in the days, It was a collective thing, my role was to visualize the looks we liked. Fashion was a chapter in my life that I loved to do but I left it for Painting in the beginning of 2000 and if my memory serves me correctly my first exhibition was in 2005.  

What visual language or practice would you say speak to you most directly and which do you oppose?

I started with drawing and then painting, but also evolved into music, video, acting and most recently sculpture . I'm interested in the process of learning, therefore I believe in first hand experience and self discovery and only through this do I feel I understand life . There is truly nothing that is fixed and so nothing is really set to oppose itself .  My work is about the many roads we take to the same destination: understanding life .

As a resident of Berlin via France, what led you to the move to Germany?

I'm a runaway kid, I have been since my youth. I was traveling around Europe a lot , a love story brought me and then Berlin caught me like a piece of drifted wood stranded on some river's turn.

We've read that you fight against symmetry, what is it about this visual aesthetic that leaves a distasteful feeling for you?

Symmetry is an old symbol of beauty, order and stability . I am not of this world. Baudelaire once said "I refuse the world from those who have." I guess I follow him in that. I am from a world where beauty had other cannons. Symmetry is the reason why a thick girl wants to be thin, guys shave their junk and old birds clip their wings with Botox.  Symmetry is the reason why everything looks like cubes , it's all so easy to carry, easy to store and easy to forget. Symmetry is like sea water without the salt. Symmetry is the symbol of squareness, and so it becomes the seed for racism, intolerance and other fears. 

 Symmetry often is synonymous with balance, how do you feel art can balance without it?

Balance only exist in chaos. It's no different then how we learn to walk, by beginning the procession of perpetually falling. Art would die if it was only based on symmetry. Symmetry is just an archetype, it's the easiest way for composition to deem itself completed. Dynamism and narration are far from the static pitfalls of symmetry. If you truly look at life itself you will see it is far from symmetrical. I am more interested in the reaction at the turning point of something about to fall apart and what we can create just to keep something from crashing. I need to see the scars on one side of a face to know how to find the story behind it. Symmetry is the absence of time, it's the absence of narration. I am interested in the absolute opposite . I am a body of work that wears his scars, holes and experiences and so it is only natural that this is my conception of art . I believe art can only find a true balance by escaping symmetry.

How do you feel institutionalism plays a role in the fine-art world today?

It's irrelevant in my eyes, I quit school when I was 14. You can’t impose mandates on people and just expect them to act like pets. I never wanted to learn to be functional. The best examples of the disobedience of institutionalism is the wave of graffiti , street art , street installations and street performance in cities all over the world. Institutions are slow and lazy and are traveling into the future backwards. People in the street don’t have that time. Institutions, museums and schools are selection machines not based on talent but on participants willingness to accept the system. If we can change this we can change the world of fine art. 

With the rise of the technological advancements in recent years, how do you feel these play a role in the creative communities today? Is it for better or for worse?

It definitely does play a big role, probably about the same way photography changed painting. The new technologies are building bridges rapidly, before we use to build bridges to reach some island, now we don’t even need an island we just build a bridge and build the island after that. New technology is a distortion tool between the elite and the poor but as I said before when photography came on the scene every painter had to find a way to compete with this new machine and that was the catalyst for the beautiful modern art movement. 

How do you feel young artists approach their work today as opposed to artists from decades past?

There are far to many people who take the word artist and spit it out as if it was synonym with the word "pop star". Art is about changing the perception of your world, if it doesn’t do this then it is not doing it's job and someone is just jerking off in front of an audience. Murakami said that in order to be an artist nowadays you need to be "80% business man", with this phycology I would add another 10% to being your own PR agency which only leaves you 10 % for talent .There is no art in this. It makes people think wanting to be an artist means wanting to be successful fast and make millions just by having an idea. I have nothing against this but don’t think doing this makes you an artist. Art is what the viewer reflects by finishing the artist's work through visualizing and interpreting it. Art belongs to the viewer not to the maker and money is not part of that exchange. 

As an individual working in both the arts and fashion, how do you feel each differentiate in practice and ideology?

I did one after the other, with fashion I was just introducing certain cultures to Germany, in this case hip hop and skate. I don’t feel any extremely deep connection beside the fact that in both I tried something I never did before and enjoyed every defeat and victory. Fashion follow trends , Art doesn’t. 

Do they play off of each other in your work or do you keep the fields segregated?

It would be a lie to say that I can completely separated the two , but at least I do try. I stopped working on a regular basis with the company, better people are in charge now , ones that are younger and more connected to our customers. I've dedicated myself to experimenting with art since 2005.  

Working with incredible artists in Agents of Change, how does the collaborative process help or hinder your practice?

AOC are first a bunch of friends who appreciate the works of each other inside the group . I see it as a refuge to try things on a bigger scale. Every time we meet and it is almost never all 13 of us, the exchange happens without rivalries, bruised egos or displaced pride. The only thing that counts is the realization of the project we are a part of. In these moments you look and search for the progress and the new skills of each member which definitely has a way of inspiring, assimilating and reintroducing itself in another form in your own personal work. Working with AOC is a recreative experience.

As an artist who's exhibited all over the globe and has a number of projects on the go at one time, what can readers expect from Jaybo Monk in the future?

I am preparing for a show with Marco PHO Grassi called SAVAGE. The show will be animalistic, violent and raw. New York is calling as well... but I don’t care about the real future... the future comes from what I do now.