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CT: You seem to be talking about street artists as if they are outside the art system but the market for street art now operates on an industrial scale. Do you think the position of the ‘outsider’ really exists now?


PK: In capitalist culture all creative work can be co- opted and we know that Nike employs graffiti artists to work on their posters and that punk one year can be a danger to society and the next year images of people with Mohicans can be selling to tourists and there’s no easy answer to that other than to try and make work that is strong enough politically to always be a thorn in the side of the establishment. I feel as artists in the West we have a privileged position to be able to make work about human rights and repression and we should use that position. Ai Weiwei is a burning example at present of someone who is currently unable to act as an artist because of the political issues with which his work deals with.


CT: What do you think are the most significant challenges that artists face now?


PK: I think it becomes more and more vital (as the world gets more and more repressive, war-like and economically unequal) for artists to find new ways of dealing with socio-political issues. It’s not about just dealing with birth, copulation and death like the YBAs. It’s actually about dealing with the nitty-gritty of politics and making work that takes sides and that reaches beyond the art audience into everyday life.


Peter Kennard’s book @Earth is published by Tate Publishing and is available now.


His work can be seen as part of The Big Society, curated by Alice Motard at Gallery Vallois, Paris, until June 4th.


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