FREDI FISCHLI & NIELS OLSEN From 1994–1996, you were running Poster Studio in London with Merlin Carpenter and Nils Norman. To this day, posters remain the main medium in your practice. What interests you in this format?
DAN MITCHELL I think of what I make as fine art prints. There’s a frustration at the heart of this for me, because posters are seen as cheap, almost free or throwaway, while prints can go for millions. So I’m hoisted by my own petard, which is quite funny, but obviously annoying, and ultimately harks back to my own frustration with an art market designated to provide luxury good for the wealthy. But I’m not answering your question. So the poster is something I like because classically it holds ideas, themes or information in place in a direct and readable way. Obviously, this means there’s a great deal to play about with, subvert, steal and exploit. As an artist, I can fuck about with meaning all I like in ways a “poster designer” can’t.
The democracy of the poster is key. It’s walked into on the street, available to all. It has to compete with an intense array of mediums, but still holds its own. Basically, I like the lower art of the poster—it’s like a quick dirty fuck as opposed to a long romance. But I want to take this filthy speed up to the level of the grand palaces of the museum. Context is important. High art is about history, money and prestige. The gatekeepers maintain a firm hold on what gets in and out, whereas posters can slip out in front of the public’s eyeballs, cheap, immediate and then gone. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m trying to work these two forces together. Maybe that’s not possible, a little bit like leading a champagne lifestyle on lemonade money… But we’ll see.