AKEL: Are you more Nero or Plutarch, instigator or commentator?
FLOOD: I would probably have to say Nero. But the one I think of more often is Robespierre. But whatever, I don’t think that’s where an artist’s power lay. I never wished to be a politician, and I despise them. I’ve also wrestled with it over the years, and I deeply dislike propaganda. And all art that is about propaganda, no matter how wonderful it’s cause may be, I think is morally wrong. That’s a major theme of my work. I don’t want to control how people think; I want to show them how they are controlled by pictures. As I’ve said before, it’s not about Sylvester Stallone, it’s not about Barry Manilow—it’s about us.
I not only do not want to comment on politics, I would tell artists, “Don’t be involved in it.” It’s a waste of your time. And, it’s also a reflection of one’s grandiosity to think it’s part of your job to have an opinion on politics. I would point to the always-illuminating example of Duchamp, who’s lived through all of horrors of the 20th century and never said dick about them.
AKEL: This speaks to your aversion of institutions, particularly arts institutions.
FLOOD: Over the years, not so much in the ’80s as in today, I developed an extreme hostility towards the non-profit art organization gulag. I formed the opinion that it’s actually a very sophisticated form of government suppression of creativity, particularly in young people. When I see the younger generation dragged into this and being told to write these statements and take these photos, define your work this way or that way, I think it’s wrong. I think instead of paying any attention to politics, a great project for young artists is to attack and destroy the non-profits of our world. I would add universities to that as well. Because I think that the whole university system is a corrupt, fucked-up mess. I don’t think it has any real relationship to human creativity except to suppress it. And that may sound a little extreme, but here in my little laboratory I get to develop extreme opinions.