Hofesh Shechter

The way I see it: artists on politics

Does art make a difference?

You can't force changes in people's lives with art, but if they want a change it gives them a chance. It takes imagination and hope.

Should politics and art mix?

Art is way more real than politics for me. It's a very practical way of living, actually, even though I'm sure politicians feel the opposite and think art is just a game. If someone wants to mix them, they're welcome to do it. I don't entirely understand what the word means: when I think of politics I think of a man in a suit. Is that politics? Is the world politics, is a demonstration politics?

Is good art a product of inspiration or perspiration?

Unfortunately mine has a lot of perspiration in it! The germ for a piece, the inspiration, can happen in a millisecond. Everything around it is there to be discovered, and that requires a lot of sweat.

What inspires you?

I'm dealing with the question of freedom, in my life and in the way I live inside a world that claims to allow freedom to its citizens, when it obviously doesn't. Also, there's a collective question: why did you decide to live that way, to do that? The politicians come with answers, but artists raise questions.

If you weren't an artist, what would you be?

A scientist. I think it's the same, anyway, but we are much less organised. My research is a bit chaotic.

If you were world leader, what would be your first law?

In terms of my own small world, I'm thinking about the unbelievable price of public transport in London. But that's not a world law. I'd unite America and unite Europe, take all the borders off the map.

Who would be your top advisers?

Stanley Kubrick, first. I'd like to say Einstein - he was a really smart man, but he did invent the atom bomb. That wasn't his fault, but he's a bit too clever, you know. My friend Ramin Gray, associate director at the Royal Court. I'm  trying to think of people who can see the world for what it is. I'd have Banksy as well, just because I want to see his face. Er, that sounds like a really dodgy committee to me, but it must be better than what we have now.

What would you censor?

I wouldn't censor anything, but you know that is my answer, because if we believe in freedom of speech we really have to go for it. It seems that we believe in freedom of speech only as long as it serves what we want it to.

Who would you banish?

It's very harsh to banish someone. It's not fair to banish anyone in this imaginary world that I'm leader of. It's a really good world - we're just having tea together and playing Scrabble. I don't think I'm going to banish anyone today.

What are the rules you live by?

To discover the rules every day and test them and check them. Be flexible, adapt.

Do you love your country?

I never really felt at home anywhere. It's a positive thing to have grown up not feeling nationalistic in any way. A country is a virtual thing - it's a bunch of people, a lot of whom I've never met.

Are we all doomed?

If you saw my work, you'd think we definitely are. But we're going down with a smile.

Two works by Hofesh Schechter, "In Your Rooms" and "Uprising", will be performed at Camden Roundhouse, London, on 27 and 28 February.

This article first appeared in the 26 January 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Nixon went to China... Will Obama go to Iran?