1 Does art make a difference?
Of course, if it has relevant ideas and influential social groups behind it. If the ideas lose their relevance it becomes just recreation.
2 Should politics and art mix?
In Russia, art was always the business of the state, and an artist criticising the Establishment had an influential position in society. This has changed since the end of the Cold War; now artists interest only themselves.
3 Is your work for the many or for the few?
Modern art in the USSR was heavily influenced by the west and, as a result, it was disregarded at home. In the provinces, where we come from, the scene is less cliquey. We produce work which is acceptable to everyone, from Young Pioneers to pensioners.
4 If you were world leader, what would be your first law?
Each president should have his state, each artist his tube of paint and his prison. It’s a sort of joke.
5 Who would be your top advisers?
Our parents, friends and their wives. Mother doesn’t teach bad things.
6 What, if anything, would you censor?
We might be the most banned artists in Russia! This year alone our work has been held up by customs, removed from exhibitions, and subject to legal proceedings. This is not being done from above, but from below, by customs officials and museum workers. As it develops, society becomes its own censor.
7 If you had to banish one public figure, who would it be?
Nobody. We gorge ourselves on pop stars and media personalities. If artists of the past century drew from nature, our nature is the media.
8 What are the rules that you live by?
We lived in one country that ceased to exist, then in another where everything keeps changing every day, so we learned to avoid clear-cut definitions and strict rules.
9 Do you love your country?
Yes, but in Russia the intelligentsia have a duty to abuse the Establishment, so saying you love the motherland is seen as bad form.
10 Are we all doomed?
When we meet foreign journalists we are doomed to answer questions about how the KGB persecute us, and whether they will send us to the gulag when we return home.