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5 questions with Robert Montogemery
Photo credit: Kate Owen / Interview Magazine
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5 questions with Robert Montogemery

 London based, Scottish sculptor and poet Robert Montogemery reveals the truth behind his site-specific installations created from light and text.

As an artist who has an interest in text-based art, how art gets inspired by social media madness?

– It’s funny because  there wasn’t really “an internet” the way we have it now when I started making my work around 2000. I mean we had the internet, but not the saturation of social media we have now. My work was already there and was just sort of discovered by social media I guess. That was just luck though really I think, there was no foresight or strategy to it. Though there is one thing- which comes from studying concrete poetry but also studying the semantics of magazines- I was looking for ways to make words make sense as images. I guess in retrospect that translates well to digital media. Social media is like the language of magazines, but very truncated.

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Photo credit: Kate Owen / Interview Magazine

What do you feel when you hear people with your art tattooed on their arm?

– I love it when people get tattoos of my words, that’s the biggest compliment. I don’t love it when pop stars just whole heartedly full size copy and fake my sculptures and put them in their pop videos without asking my permission or giving me any money because that misrepresents my work and takes the food out of my mouth and means I can’t pay my rent.

Your some pieces include religious references…

– I like the idea of the poem as ritual and there is sometimes a sort of strange religious atmosphere when we do them. They are also quite a collective experience, for example the documentation of the fire poems is often crowd-sourced, I find that people in the audience often take the best pictures and videos on their smart phones- I like that aspect a lot, it kind of modernizes the ritual.

I like the idea of the poem as ritual and there is sometimes a sort of strange religious atmosphere when we do them.

How?

Symbolically, for me personally, they are like celtic pagan ceremonies (like Beltane Fire or the Festival of Lugh) or Viking funerals. The fire poems are set deep in my subconscious in some way I think because I come from wild Scottish celtic/viking coastal country. A country of fire and wind, Scottish pirate country.

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Do you usually relate your work with politics?

– When I started doing the work I was really conscious that I wanted to switch between a political voice and a personal voice, I like the vulnerability of that, you know, like you put your heart on the line. I want my work to have political meaning sometimes, but then at other times be a really emotional, personal and vulnerable voice. I thought putting that really vulnerable voice on billboards would be interesting because the voice of billboards is normally so blank and confident.


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