Interview with Wayne Horse

Wayne, tell me about your relationship with teenage movies and horror. The title German Swinehund in Rotterdam is based on the horror classic An American Werewolf in London (1981, dir. John Landis) and in your videos there are many references to cartoons etc.

Quite frankly, I’ve never seen American Werewolf. Why? I don’t know. I don’t think I’m very interested in that movie. I did see Teenwolf (1985, dir. Rod Daniel), but found it quite dull.

German Swinehundt is one of the first videos you made (not on show at the exhibition). Surely you’re not telling me that American Werewolf has in no way influenced your work?

No no no. American Werewolf does have a huge influence. I saw the movie poster and this was the reason for making German Swinehundt. I like the atmosphere surrounding movies like that. Like Dazed and Confused (1993, dir. Richard Linklater) featuring music by Alice Cooper and a storyline of students who are cool and those who are not so cool. American Werewolf is the same. The American Werewolfis the same as the German Swinehundt, only the latter fails in his attempt to be cool because everyone hates him.

Critters (1986, dir. Stephen Herek) is a movie that I did see a long time ago, as well as Bad Taste (1987, dir. Peter Jackson). I also saw the “making of” Bad Taste, Peter Jackson fabricated all these clay monsters himself and fired them in his parent’s oven. I thought it was cool to do the same. And you know, many of these special effects in movies are, in spite of the fact that it is very obvious that they are fake, so effective. For Elefant Boy I spent many months building the film sets and costumes, this gets you involved in the movie in a completely different manner. It’s such fun to execute all these effects yourself, and also much healthier than spending all that time behind the ‘fucking’ computer.


Now what exactly is a German Swinehundt?

Schweinehund is a cliche term of abuse from the Nazi era that is still very commonly used in Germany. For example, when people are lazy they say:” I need to find a way to discard my inner Schweinehund “. It’s such a stupid word. Schweinehund is a fantasy animal, just like a werewolf. I really dislike fantasy featuring orks, elves and that sort of thing. And for some reason that is also why it is fun to make use of it. And you know: I don’t like Germany, as shown in Wir sind Wieder Wer. German Swinehundt is a combination of two horrible things.



So Germany is horrible?

Well no, not exactly. I had quite a good life there. But any national pride is not healthy I think.

Especially not for Germans….

Not specifically, but we have learned that it really is not a good thing. Germans have been ashamed of their origin for a long time. Now I don’t think one needs to be burdened by one’s nationality for the rest of one’s life, however, during the soccer worldchampion in Germany (2006) I saw German flags everywhere. There really was no end to it. On the way to my parent’s home from the railway station I counted thirty flags. I felt like:

"Well well, who would have thought that?"

Is this something you criticize?

For German Swinehundt I wanted to do some German things. I am and remain a German, you know. When I went to Amsterdam to attend the Rietveld I felt like:” here I come!” It’s fun to press the ‘German button’ in the Netherlands. It’s silly but in a certain way everyone is conscious of the ridiculousness when Germans are portrayed like that.

Isn’t this a little corny, superficial? Already we were criticized, people were saying your work is nothing but a juvenile creation.

I don’t like my work to be dry. I use easy, approachable things, dumb messages. But superficial? I wouldn’t readily put my name on that. There is a thought behind my work, deeper layers, things that occupy me. Nevertheless, I can’t prevent people from forming their own opinion.

Do you make use of a superficial visual languageinordertodrawthespectator’s attention?

I also make boring things, like Wir Sind Wieder Wer. Normally however, I use a language that doesn’t require too much energy to watch. That is also why I make use of popular culture. Much of what you see is also on MTV. The only difference is that MTV entertains degenerate standards. MTV tries to pass off all sorts of things to you.

I make use of the same things and sometimes I don’t tell you more than a lie. My work may seem superficial, it is commentary. It cannot escape being a mirror of something else. Look at fucking Idols. Don’t tell me that Idols is meaningless.

Perhaps Idols does make a statement on how we relate to each other. It is always possible however, to say something intelligent about something stupid. How does your work make use of this language of television and visual culture?

Let’s assume that I really hate these things, but in a certain way I can’t escape from them either. I made very slow clips for MTV (a Mattress in the Woods) in order to make people zap. However, my work changes (verandert aub met een t) depending on where I show it.

I drew a cute kitty on cans of beer, based on the creatures that alcoholics see. The design for this cat was a comment on the way Manga characters try to raise sympathy in a violent manner with their reduced forms and Bambi like eyes. Basically they’re bad. When I found out that people in fact found these cats cute it was over for me. I hadn’t hinted at how people should interpret these beer cans the way I wanted them to. I had to be more explicit.



I try to do so in Elefant Boy. I use the same visual language as the popular media, but in such an abundance that it makes you ill. Take for example the Disney movie with the two dogs (Lady and the Vagabond). It is sickening but everyone has these two arrogant dogs imprinted in their minds.


Is this how animations function in your movies, do they represent the worst of the world?Can you explain to me which role animation plays in your movies?

Frankly I initially thought it was a bit slick to use animation and fabricated the tags that destroy everything (Destrukto). A dumb job really, everything breaks down. Animations often play an evil role in my movies. In Elefantos the animations represent evil and the same goes for Elefant Boy:

“It fucks everything up.”
Can you tell me more about Ponzo? It looks like an absolutely normal cartoon, though rather hostile toward women. It is also one of the few purely animated videos, and so quite different from your other work.

I tried to make a movie that goes a little further than the obvious sexual aspect. I therefore decided to add violence, and women were hit, kicked and had ice creams stuck up their asses. And you know, the crazy thing is that I only got one angry reaction from a woman. She didn’t mind the women being abused but did object to the hitting. It is exactly the violence which shows what’s happening, sex and violence often go hand in hand.


Do you think it is regrettable for this woman that you made this movie?

Not at all. If you think this movie is insulting then there is something wrong with you. It’s so “over the top.” It’s rather difficult to imagine that the person making this movie really hates women. Besides, if people feel that what happens in Ponzo is repulsive then that is a good thing. In that case they will probably not go out on the street bashing up women and fucking them in the ass. Perhaps I’m only encouraging people, like they say the rappers do. Did I create a monster? I don’t think so.

Is it rather ironic?

It’s easy for people to disapprove. Ponzo clearly shows something that is outside any reality. I can’t forbid people to see things differently to myself however. I put my work on the internet and thus lose all control. Teenagers will most likely view Ponzo differently from me.

One can point out other influences in your work, such as film noir and other arthouse genres. How do you arrive at this mix of diverse movie styles?

I reflect on the things I see. Movies can evoke an atmosphere that lingers with me. I try to find out what I like about a movie and subsequently how I can make use of this. I learn from the things I see and use them in my own way. I think it is interesting to show the entire spectrum of things I find relevant in my movies.

And what is relevant?

The atmosphere. I want to propagate a message. Tales of friendship to counterbalance all horrible things that happen in my movies. Violence, overconsumption, pornography. I like movies about friendship because I like to think there is a friend somewhere out there. I want to convey warm feelings.

So ultimately you produce feel good movies?

They are feel good movies, my style. I find it more interesting to point out social abuse. That is what my work is about, I show things that are not good.


And people can think whatever they like of it?

If all they see in my movies is pornography then it is their pornography. My movies are references to things that are stored in everyone’s head. Violence is always stupid, but people do laugh. Violence is the basic principle of slapstick, I take a little step from there, but people continue to laugh.

Who are your favourite directors?

I like Michel Gondry. He does unbelievably beautiful things with lo-fi techniques, although he tends to frequent the niche of the lovely creative world a bit often. Jim Jarmush is really good at dialogues. I saw Down by Law (1986) in which Tom Waits escapes from prison, fantastic. And King Kong (1976, dir. John Guillermin), when I saw this gorilla with that house……

Tell me about your relationship with video art. Can you for example tell me how a movie like Punch is related to Bruce Nauman’s video performances? I can see a resemblance with the repetitive motions he executed in his studio, such as in Dance or Exercise on the Perimeter of a Square (Square Dance) 1967-68.

I have to confess that I don’t know what you’re talking about. Isn’t he the dude I saw at the Rietveld? I was completely overwhelmed by that video you know. There on a chair is a man who together with his spectator wants to undress….. You know, “Now you and me, in front of the camera, take off our shirts.” I thought that movie was excellent.

Sorry, now I don’t know what you’re talking about.

I also like Paul McCarthy, the one who produced the enormous dildo installation in Rotterdam. I read a book on all of his video-installations. It was an enumeration of his work in the style of:

“Now the artist pukes on the ground. Now the artist rubs his face in it.”

I was impressed by this artistic form of Jackass. There is probably more meaning to everything, but I found the way it was all summed up so dryly very cool.

Punch is a video about boredom. Initially it is unclear what the movie is about because it slowly zooms out. It’s like the close-ups in porn movies, you don’t immediately see what it is about. Punch came from nowhere really, I was just hanging out.

There goes my little excursion into art history….

Yeah, sorry. I wish I could help you.


You are an artist, aren’t you?

Perhaps it’s time to study or something. Friends of mine continually name artists I would be referring to. I am often embarrassed that I don’t know who they’re talking about. All those references somehow narrow your vision in way. I am not trying to make excuses or anything, but I don’t think it’s healthy to know of everything that’s already been done. There is a lot of repetition in art. That’s all right because you never do exactly the same thing. Every time something different emerges. I like not to think of other artists when I’m working.

Is it even better?

Of course it’s good when you make an artwork ‘and you know you shit’ and you know where it comes from. I admire that, but that’s not what makes me tick. I do not have an extensive knowledge of plastic arts but I do visit musea, art galleries etcetera. You know, I have a friend who every time he sees a work of art thinks: “Nice, now I don’t have to do that anymore. “What I think is:” Fuck, now I can’t do that anymore.”

Who are your favorite artists?

Jake and Dinos Chapman are really clever. And as a teenager I liked Gottfried Helnwein. He’s the artist who designed the Scorpions album cover (Blackout, 1982). He did many other things also, he intensively made use of the media. He wrote letters to newspapers and added illustrations. These wereoftenpublished.Istilllikeitina certain way because it’s not too dry. It’s easily accessible, for children also.

What if I compare you to Andy Warhol now? I think he, like you, as readily dropped the characters who featured in his movies and lived with him in the Silver Factory as he bestowed a star status upon them.

I don’t readily drop the persons and characters from my movies at all. It’s a battle. And who did I get rid of the past few years? Elefantos is no more and I shook off the cute little animals becauseI didn’t see it in the many more.They conveyed the wrong message. I still have the life size dummy cats. I’d love to throw them off a cliff. That would be a fun thing to do.

I’ll probably never lose Kent ‘the norseman’ Hensley (a professional show wrestler). He leads his own life, the way I lead mine. When we get together we are on the same level. He doesn’t make a fool of himself and neither do I. Things are right as they are, Kent will always be doing his own things. Besides, I didn’t create Kent. Ultimately here mains Kent ‘the norseman’ Hensley. That is how he has himself announced at the contests, wearing his Viking helmet.

It’s the same with Adrian Falk. At this moment I’m lucky to have met him and that I’m able to work with him. It’s exiting to work with these characters. When we see Kent in the forest (A Mattress in the Woods), we are watching Kent, not some fantasy bullshit. This is a logical way of working for me. It also brings me closer to these people. All I knew of Kent was that he is a wrestler with big hands and dangerous moves. When I first saw him I was genuinely scared of him. He is really friendly however, and I work well with him. Perhaps the moment will come that we cannot do anything together anymore. I am not heartless though, all my characters are very dear to me. I really don’t feel well if I have to get rid of them.

Do your videos emerge from your characters or vice versa?

That depends on the medium. For a movie I have to prepare the storyline in advance because I don’t have the budget or time to fool around. For Elefant Boy the script was ready in advance whereas Elefantos is compiled from hours of material. Sometimes when I meet someone I ask if he will collaborate with me. Then scenes are immediately created in my head.

And animation then allows you to do everything you want.

Yes, but they do not offer a point of departure. I have to create from scratch. A person always carries a lot with him already. Animation can go no further than that which is in my head.

I have a final question. Are you critical, or does the human suffering that surrounds you make you laugh?

''I do not laugh at human suffering.''

Do you feel bad about human suffering?

Yes, but in a stupid manner, that’s the problem. “I think we live in a very fucked up place”, that’s all I can say. I find that things are going badly in the world. We’re so blinded by nonsense. Our culture is mainly concerned with things that are eventually not good for you. To escape from that is difficult, because it happens all around us. And now that I’m thinking about it: I don’t just stuff around in my studio. So no, I don’t laugh at human suffering at all.

Do you criticize social abuse in your work?

What do you mean by criticize? That I point my finger and say: “This man is not really suffering, he’s faking it?”

No no no, can’t you just say what’s wrong with the world?

It is one of the main reasons why I do things the way I do them. What else would my movies be about? My reason for making videos are the things I don’t think are good. I show things that get out of hand. And they increase all the time. I’m in so deep that I don’t know how to escape anymore. That’s really bad. But I don’t know what else to do.

Make use of a sense of humour to lighten things up….

I find myself in the luxurious position that people see what I do. More than a hundred people visit my website daily. I want to make people conscious of the things that are happening around them.

Will this ever change?

The way I see it it’s only getting worse. When I went to Amsterdam eight years ago, I didn’t care what people thought of my work or other things. But I can sense things going downhill. An ever increasing number of laws influence the lives of millions of people. Eventually they only create more suffering.

A sad end to this conversation….

“Yeah man.”

Linked exhibition:
German Swinehundt in Rotterdam 

Translation: Liesbeth Harmsen


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