simple rule makes it so thrilling that you are not forced to ask. “What the hell am I doing here? Who am I? Am I justified in what I’m doing?" This is the perfect escape from the world.‘
Poker was followed by a dive into the world of avant-garde films and conceptual art. like his celebrated Dadaist street performance piece in Zurich's banking district when he spent a week counting pieces of metal into bags ofa thousand.
Those have gone by the board (‘I was trying to destroy certain elements of this society. with a hammer. more or less‘). but looking back over previous Meier statements. it’s impossible not to notice that his definition of “artist” is virtually indistinguishable from his definition of ‘anarchist‘.
‘Ofcourse. of course. Anarchist is not a guy who throws a bomb. this is a very one-dimensional definition. I think an anarchist and an artist are people who are without [outside of] fulfilling the most immediate needs of this capitalist society. trying to find out about themselves to create another world. I think that every artist has to be an idiot and a revolutionary at the same time. because he does by definition something which has only to do with him. And how artists are perceived in this society is —— this is what I learned in my twenty years of doing this — you’re a useless idiot who‘s not working, then suddenly you become sort of famous and you’re a genius. But there‘s nothing in between. The artist cannot live a normal life — which is also justified, because this society does not want free people. This society needs 98 per cent slaves who walk straight into the oven without thinking for a second. “What the hell am I doing here?" It would be dangerous if an artist were to lead a normal life. because other people might try this and it has to be forbidden.‘
He‘s also on record as saying that an artist is “living his personal comment and ideal for
this world’. Seriously. do many ‘artists‘ actually live up to that?
‘What I’m doing. or trying to do. is not so product-orientated as normally a so-called artist does it. Whatever I do is expression of my being. so the product as such is not important. You could call it a very Buddhistic approach. The Zen Buddhist does not do calligraphy to come up with beautiful calligraphy. He does these signs as an expression of his being.‘
So one could be a great artist without stepping outside the bounds of a mountaineer, a barman. . .
‘Absolutely. One hundred per cent. I don‘t consider working on a piece of music to be any different from talking to a liftboy or a barman. You can be a great spirit. a great philosopher as a barman. It has been proved. You know Gurdjieff? You know what Sufi is. right? This guy worked as a shoe cleaner in Rome ten years ofhis life. Everybody came to him because he was such a beautiful spirit. There are people like this. who have normal cover, who may be. . . living gods.‘
A few minutes later. Dieter Meier finds Nirvana in a felt-tipped pen. All around him are boxes of record sleeves. CD inserts and posters for the new album, Baby. waiting to be signed. A gruelling. mindless task to most. but Meier sets to work with alarming gusto. perhaps to prove his point.
“I love this.’ he beams. ‘I could do this all day. Means I don’t have to think. You know who has signed his name more times than anyone else? Andy Warhol. He would sign things all night so he didn‘t have to talk to anyone . . . Haven‘t you got another box for me?‘
The album Baby and the single Rubberbandman are on Mercury Records.
More Gilbert and George than Almond and Ball, Yello are
to the synth duo what Twin Peaks is to Brookside. Alastair Mabbott talks to DIETER MEIER about everything but their brand-new Baby.
The List 28June— l 1 July 199