Little Weird Gang
I’m still really close friends with, not as many of those people that I was, of course things change, we’ve moved on. And I couldn’t call Damien my friend anymore. I mean I don’t think he’s my enemy or anything, but I haven’t — I don’t hang out with him anymore, but I think if something bad happened, he possibly would be there for me. But having said that, a lot of the others, Gary Hume, Gillian Wearing and Michael Landy, people like that, they’re still really present, Rachel Whiteread, in my life, and that’s been one of the hardest things about moving across the other side of the country — of the other side of the world.1 Those are the people that can tell me — can kick me up the arse and tell me if I’m kidding myself or if I’m just trying to get — kind of treading water and just trying to get by.
Those relationships that were established, I don’t even want to think back — my math is terrible, when, in the late 80s, those are my people, and they have — we have this shared history, and I — maybe it’s weird, I still feel really proud and excited for their successes as I feel supported when I do something. So, I mean that’s the big thing that I do here in San Diego, in La Jolla, it’s just kind of a weird satellite place. It’s really important to me in terms of students. This is about building a peer group, that’s what you have, that’s the thing that you have, that you will always have, into the future. And I think so few artists really kind of consider that the “I” is really dangerous. There’s moments always when we need to be “I” and there’s moments where you’re in the spotlight, and everyone is giving you attention, and it’s very hard to resist.2
It’s flattering or whatever, but from my experiences of going through some of the stuff that we witnessed, or were part of in London, and some of my peers who have made spectacular amounts of money, a lot of the people that went through moments of being “I” have come back to being “we”, and that happened quite quickly in terms of, maybe — initially after Freeze, lots of curators, lots of people started coming to London for lots of different reasons, but it was always like this little group.3 They would maybe get in touch with Damien first, and Damien he would bring them to this studio and then we would take them there. So, it was like this little weird gang. It was very social, and then at a certain point some people started to be less generous in terms of sharing if somebody was coming to town.
Some of it, it was just drinking or eating, someone would come to town and they would say that — they would take us all out to a pizza place or something, and maybe for a certain point when the stakes seemed to get a bit higher, for a moment some people started thinking more singularly and not being so inclusive, you’d find out that they’d had dinner with somebody or a studio visit with somebody, but as I said, a little bit after that, they — everyone sort of came back together again in terms of realizing that the only people that were really going to be honest with you, and past — they’re the only people that would take that type of really hard type of really harsh criticism from, were people in this group. So, we need each other for many different reasons.4