"Ye Must Be Born Again," as a hoodie once said. Now legally known as Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West has finally opened up about his rebirth as Ye, among many other things, in a lengthy dialogue with German-Indian artist Tino Sehgal, famed for his immaterial performance art.
Ye's unique magazine cover shows the fleshy mask he wore in New York about a month after he sported a similar one in the Berlin airport.
Ostensibly an off-the-cuff chat, Ye and Sehgal's dialogue is so rich with reference and revelation that it feels like something moderated by James Lipton.
Ye explains that he initially came to Berlin to plan a Halloween party, for instance, revealing that the trip morphed into grander ideas for a performance piece called The Funeral Rehearsal of Kanye West.
This was recorded back in October, remember, months before the Larry Hoover concert.
Read on for several excerpts of Ye and Sehgal's conversation.
Art is one of the last fields in our culture that is still so focused on the individual and individual expressions.
In hip-hop, sports, and cinema, it’s a team effort, and often the results are much better in team efforts.
We can exist in a stronger, better way by coming together as artists and scientists to make our Earth the ultimate version of itself.
Utopia is a heavy-handed word, but we shouldn’t be afraid of it. We should be trying to make Heaven on Earth. To do that, we need leaders. A community with no leader shall perish.
And I am the leader.
I think there are artists, like Jeff Koons or myself, who don’t shy away from what I think you mean with "corny." Warhol didn’t shy away from it, either. Some of us are uninhibited in that way.
Warhol is one of the reasons we’re able to do it. He was like the MC Hammer of artists. You know, I got a little drop of corniness, that little golden drop that makes it popular.
But I can’t let nobody love me too much, because I’m gonna get into this trap of love. And then I owe it to everyone to be the person that they fell in love with. And I’ll never be that person. I have to always have the freedom of being disliked, so I can always be me.
And so, [The Funeral Rehearsal of Kanye West] is the death of Kanye West. It is the death of the ego that separates us – it’s the birth of humanity.
Let me start by killing myself. The less you, the more room for God.
The template I’m interested in is producing new cultural formats. I was never very interested in the stage, because the stage creates a separation.
Instead, I want to create formats that are leveled and more celebratory. That’s why I’ve enjoyed your Sunday Services. When you’re at a gospel service or a hip-hop event, you’re not judging from a distance, you’re doing, you’re creating something together. You’re at a party.
That’s why, for me, these kinds of cultures are more holistic and more contemporary than art which always operates with judgment and distance – watching and judging and being at a distance are all modes of the ego.
That’s why I’m so interested in producing the app – to use your words – or a template for that.
I think that’s really important for the 21st century. But it’s unclear how to do that for big groups of people.
That’s why I’m going egalitarian with GAP. Everyone should be a part of the good life. No more of this class system.
You know, I was talking to Jared Kushner before they left office, and he was, like, "We are running a third of the land in America," and I was, like, "But what are you doing with it?"
It’s set up in a way that the Black community will never rise. People are just selling us drugs and selling us bad food, and media, and hate, and people are just not as happy as we could and will be.
We are under capitalist rule, and it’s killing us. It’s time to change that.
One of our common interests seems to be the idea of the good life, which is something that the 20th century wasn’t very focused on.
The 20th century and industrialized society were in a kind of teenage frenzy of what was possible – "We can produce this" and "we can invent that."
But for what? What’s the price? Is this actually the good life?
The ultimate good life is simpler. It’s for those who are willing to not have any possessions. Your baggage weighs you down.
I’m going to be homeless in a year. I’m going to turn all the homes I own into churches. We’re making this orphanage, and it will be a place where anyone can go. It should be like an artist commune. Food should always be available.
The opportunity to make art and be around friends should always be available.