Meet the Artist Thomas Hirschhorn

Thomas Hirschhorn on what it means to be an artist, and why art is a tool to confront the times in which we’re living

Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn discusses what it means to be an artist, and why art is a tool to confront the times in which we’re living.

His sculpture Drift Topography 2003 in Tate's collection is made up of cardboard cutouts of US soldiers surrounding a ramshackle city whose streets are lined with petrol cans, raising the spectre of the Iraq war.

His exhibition at the Stephen Friedman gallery, London, in 2007extended the theme.


To me as an artist the problem is how to take position, how to take position and to give form to this position: A form which goes behind cultural, economical, religious conventions. I think in art still the question of the form brings the most important question. To create a form who tries to touch truth: that is my problem as an artist.

Sometimes I feel ridiculous or stupid facing my own work but I think I have to stand out this ridiculousness.

To me doing art work is using art as a tool as a tool to confront with the world, as a tool to confront with the reality I am living in and as a tool to confront with the time I am living in. I am living in a cultured complex turbulent world. In doing my art work I want to reach, to struggle, to fight in this turbulent and complex world.

Today we are living I think in a time of opinion, of fact, of information and communication. The problem is which form I can do who resist this dictatorship of opinion and the dictatorship of facts.

I have to be courageous to touch the non positive, to not avoid to touch the question of the non positive.

To me doing art work is not only glamorous, it is not only fashionable, it is not only cool. I am not a political artist working without cynicism, without self satisfying self criticism, without naivety and without good conscience.

I do not want to work for the art market, I do not want to work against the art market: this is losing energy. I do want to struggle to fight with and in the art market. I always think ‘energy yes, quality no.’

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