-We had to wear masks to get to your studio. Is it part of the show or is it really a matter of protection?
It’s for protection but also for the show of course. It’s also a way to let you in this studio which is really a secret place. I had to do something special to let you in here.
-Four years ago your studio was about 20square meters, it’s ten times bigger here. Apart from the walls widening, what has changed for you?
Many things but I am into a step by step dynamics, ,more cities have been invaded since then and having a bigger space allows me to work on bigger pieces and prepare exhibitions. Having a real workplace’s been very important in this evolution.
-At the time you said: “going forward with a mask is part of the game, adding mystery to the project.” Isn’t your identity the last mystery in the end?
You live in the system so you know the artistic project but many people are still discovering the thing and wonder what it’s supposed to be.
So there is still plenty of mystery around all this at which the mystery of my identity is added, which I don’t regret because it is going the same way as the project and I find it satisfying to be put aside the work.
-746 Invaders had already been pasted up in Paris in 2007, there will be 1000 in June 2011. So it’s approximately one invader paster up per week. Is it your usual frequency?
It’s a good frequency because in four years, there’s been 15 or so cities abroad that got invader from top to bottom so in general it’s been working like that for years. Between two foreign invasions I stay a few weeks in Paris to paste up some. The current map is up to 954 so there’s about 50 left that means I go out a lot those days.
-Do you still manage to find good spots in Paris?
It’s endless, there are so many streets, so many neighborhoods. I tend to go back to places I already know whereas there are so many areas in the 14 or 17 that I never step foot in that also got great spots. I am also as much in quality as quantity because I have a quota to respect, the countdown has begun.
-The spot that scored most points is still located on Melrose in LA?
It is the biggest illegal and abroad ever realized indeed. I got a few public orders since, including a bridge in Vienna enterlity covered with tiles.
-You have been arrested in LA? Can you tell us?
Actually I was there recently and it was hot. I was arrested by LAPD down a roof. But the irony is that I learned to be wanted once sat on my couch reading Liberation in Paris. The routine…
-Do you regret that Paris still hasn’t placed such an order? You play with cities. Did the mayor ask you to play with him?
I don’t regret and I hope it will happen one day at the same time, and if it doesn’t, I’ll make it happen anyway! I even tried to get a small word from the mayor for the Paris book but never got an answer.
-You’ve gone from space invader to an invader of space. Galleries welcome you today and open their doors to you. You don’t really play by the same rules anymore… Is it the same approach?
I was never against the idea of exhibiting in art places because I am an art lover in the first place. I remain a virus compared to the whole network. This art is starting to be recognized but it’s been mocked for a long time, today the doors are opening. It’s also true that this exhibition remains subversive, even if I have a gallery helping me hosting it, it remains an unusual place, it is not an institutional place. It’s an underground and unknown place so there’s still a certain idea of liberty and authenticity regarding my work.
– A few words about this place?
I’ve been looking for it for a long time, a place not to renown, unlabelled not too neat nor too institutional and a little quirky. La Generale is run by more or less independent artists. It’s a former EDF center, it looks like a Gustave Eiffel or Jules Vernes’ studio, entirely made of metal with a 10 meters height under the ceiling and 500 square meters, it’s the perfect pop-up for this exhibition. I knew the place would influence the exhibition and play a role with the pieces I’d be presenting and it’s exactly what happened.
-You say it took you two years to understand the importance of the first invader pasted up. What do you think about this exhibition?
I am very excited and very happy about it, I only am realizing now the importance it has, I should have done it before. To look for a place and to find it to prepare one’s own exhibition is something quite revolutionary, it’s something that was brought by the street art that had to take care of itself to be exposed.
-The 1000 exhibition will celebrate Invader. But what’s up with the RubikCubism movement and what place will it take in this exhibit?
For the first time I will finally be able to show it in France and it will truly be a curtain rise on what I’ve been working on for a few years now. Not many people know this work. There will be a big RubikCubisme part with many new pieces in the Mad Men and Low Fidelity series. I just received 40,000 cubes in the studio! I can’t wait for a book to come out with all the RubikCubisms I’ve made.
-There are also AC/DC and The Clash covers in RubikCubism, I thought Invader was only interested in binary sound.
But there is also Gainbourgh, Renaud and Telephone! I realized a record is a square, like a pixel, like a cube face and that it was a good project to start so I made this little trip through all the musics I ever loved or discovered.
-Concerning the punk come-back, between chaos and liberty. Were you attracted by this movement?
Punk is one of the biggest music movement. In the 80s, it was wether punk, wether disco, I was more into punk because it was freedom, DIY, subversion, the music that shakes things up so it’s been of a great influence in my choices.
-Which new material would you like to experiment?
-Can you give us your thoughts about Banksy’s film “Exit Through the Gift Shop”? Do you work together sometimes?
It’s a good film cause it’s going the same way as street art and it’s a good thing for Banksy to explore movies. It’s a rather pleasant contemporary tale on street art. But I put a lot into it because I’m stuck in the middle between Banksy and the main character of the movie, Mister Greenwatch.
The movie would have never existed if I hadn’t existed. The project was mounted against my will so I didn’t want to become a spokesman for the movie or talk about a project that ‘s not mine.
-Have you considered pasting up in villages or other unlikely places and therefore export urban culture in the rural or quasi-rural world?
I love the idea. I thought several times about finding a one-horse town in deepest France and do a massive invasion. Paste up 50 at a single time, I’d really love to do that. A huge apce invader on a barn.
-How is that African invasion going?
I invaded Africa because I was the very first street artist to go on the African continent so it suited the idea of a global invasion. I am focusing on South America because it is precisely the last uninvaded territory. And it should be for soon so I will finally be able to publish a book on world invasion.
-Which invader would you like to have your grave?
If you want something done it’s better to do it yourself so I should prepare it and put it in my will with the invasion kit and instructions. Usually I don’t unveil my futures spots but believe it or not, one of them is the Paris’ morgue.
-2003, birth and short life for the sneaker project One Step One Point. We’ll soon celebrate the tenth anniversary. An new edition with shoes-up?
Why not but I don’t think I’d do a pair of sneakers again unless it’s a small size for kids. On the other hands I am crafting a Space Invader waffle mold for the exhibit.
-What will remain of contemporary creation according to you?
There will be surprises. I am probably going to upset a few but the biggest galleries don’t necessarily support the artists that will be remembered in the future. It has always been like this in the past. The art that was sold in the salons isn’t the one that remains in the end. Van Goghs and Gauguins were the artists who were left aside. I feel we’re still in this scenario. Who will say ?
-Will you be there for the opening?
No, I’d soon be unmasked but I might be closer than you think!
Interview By Shoes Up magazine, Pictures by Ouilyame