THE COMING OUT OF ALEX DIAMOND
Interview by Maximiliane Meissner, NoNewEnemies (2012)
When the fictional personae of Alex Diamond first appeared on the art scene back in 2004, it was part of a performance piece: A detail of a conceptual exhibition Joerg Heikhaus, artist and owner of heliumcowboy art space, was showing at his gallery in Hamburg. Little did he know that he could create such a hype around an anonymous artist.
“I came up with the character of Alex Diamond, when I was creating the work for the show in 2004. It was different compared to most of the stuff I had done as an artist before, so I felt I needed to introduce a fictional character. Someone, who would become a part of the story I‘ve been telling in my work. I understood that it was the story of someone else, so I came up with the Name: Alex Diamond.
“At the opening, I was dressed as some kind of pimp. A person that may be the artist behind these works and at first I played the role of Alex Diamond myself. It was pretty obvious for everyone there to see who was behind it all, and at this point I didn’t have the intention to keep it a secret.
“But the name stuck. Alex Diamond. And after that it became a project.
“After several exhibitions, when I started taking the project abroad, Alex Diamond and me started to separate. I wasn’t dressing up anymore when presenting the work and Diamond became a true fictional character: Genderless and faceless.
„Alex Diamond “Being also the gallerist of Diamond’s work, I started to see his character as an experiment: What happens when the art market doesn‘t know the person behind the work? What if there is no vita? Nothing to tell about the past of a human being? Nothing that may explain the art or help build an artist-celebrity-identity?“
“Knowing that the success of an artist is very dependent on the personae of the artist and the possibilities to build a brand around it, would this approach even work?
“I started to explore this further in the project ‘Being Alex Diamond’ (2007 – 2010). It became an intense visual and conceptual dialogue about questions identity. The power of the ego in a generation that knows only very few boundaries when presenting their personalities. The need of the society for some kind of ‘celebrity culture‘, social role models, and a sort of natural schizophrenia as well.
“I traveled with a furry mask with tentacles coming out of it‘s massive hairy head, that was based on drawings of mine. I arranged photo shoots with very different people wearing it, and thus becoming and acting out their own image of Alex Diamond in front of the camera.
“At the end of 2009 the artwork was published in a book (Verlag Gudberg, Hamburg). The book was my official project report; the exploration of the main idea. And it proved a point, I wasn‘t sure I could make, when it all started: Yes, it is possible to establish an artist that doesn‘t actually exist. Despite the lack of support I can usually give my artists. Despite the need to work undercover and having to cancel invitations where I couldn’t keep my identity a secret. Despite always making a huge effort trying to work in total anonymity… I‘ve been able to build a strong base of followers and collector‘s and a unique artist brand.
“And besides all that, I‘ve created a body of work that seemed to hit a nerve and means something. Something that I very much enjoyed making.
“In early 2010 I turned to a new technique and started woodcarving: Taking the themes and styles to a different medium. I also turned away from anonymity. There was no reason for it anymore.
“After taking away the dark curtain of anonymity last year, I felt a little sad but mainly relieved. I feel free again, and spend much more time in the studio, working on things I couldn‘t even think of doing behind the mask.
“From now on, I am Alex Diamond.”