My decision to “become an artist” can be broken down into two dimensions: “I was born to make art,” and “I have to do something with my life.” The first is an expression of some innate identity—that I have an artistic disposition and that making art is a manifestation of who I am—and the second is about finding a solution to a problem—that I ought to spend my life doing what I am good at and what brings me fulfillment, and that making art is how I am somehow trying to solve that problem.
I think much of my earlier work had to do with working out the first dimension: what identifies my artistic decisions as apart from any of my other decisions?; how can I reify the creative thought processes and structures and biases and attitudes that shape my own work?
The last five years, however, things have shifted to the second dimension. The show “Mom” that I did in 2013 at Kirk’s Apartment in Chicago was a bridge between the two dimensions: it started with wondering about the ways my mother has played a role in shaping my visual experience of the world, or my sense of style and taste, by the kinds of visual and sensory experiences I was conditioned to appreciate growing up, but it also was trying to make explicit the ways in which using the source material of maternal influence could in effect help work through—in real life—issues with my actual mother (to simplify: if the show was beautiful, she would feel honored, and it would bring us closer together).
Since that show, this slightly buffoonish and hyperbolic instrumentalization of the avant grade project (that art be joined into life to make it better) to make my life better by, for example, making me feel better about my use of time, exposing me to more interesting people, helping me mature and accept myself, making my parents feel proud, giving me more to offer my friends or my daughter, turning me into an honorable participant in society, helping me find meaning or rent money or a sense of direction, yadda yadda yadda—this somewhat jokey reduction—bad life + good art = good life—has been central to every new work I’ve put out there. – Diego Leclery
The book mentioned in the Interview is Prison Writings: The Roots of Civilization by Abdullah Ocalan.