Let's Talk About Capitalism: John Karborn

Written by: Violet Myers

North Four have got together with the CCI Collective to become the media partners of their forthcoming event ‘All of This is Temporary’ a night of art, poetry and performance. The event will explore theories on capitalism and post-capitalism through installations and immersive art works from home grown and internationally celebrated artists, including Tufnell Park born John Karborn, a multi-media artist whose work ranges from intrusive gifs to abstract collages.

We caught up with John to talk money, politics and Pret a Manger…

Why did you choose to be involved in ‘All of This is Temporary’?

“Well I liked the idea of post-capitalism and I like Rich Mix. I like everything that isn’t to do with advertising or selling something else. I turn a lot stuff down but the idea seems worthwhile, so I thought yeah.”

What will you be featuring on the night?

“There’s going to be three of the silks I’ve been making, shown for the first time at the event. They’re meant to be subversive, challenging…about overpopulation. I’ve made about 50-60 now. They’re really quick sort of rough things, very immediate. I found I was spending a lot of time working on one piece and it was just a waste of time and it seemed to be much better to work quickly, throw stuff away and be quite crude. It seems to fit the bill of the life we have to make practical. So I persued that particular body of work like that…I think time is precious in the city.”

Can art change politics?

“I think art’s much more about challenging culture and leading by example, giving new ideas than it is influencing politics or directly being about politics. When I see Banksy with bits of George Bush on them or Tony Blair it just feels a bit…it just feels a bit obvious, puerile. That’s what The Private Eye does, they poke fun at pictures of people. That’s fine, let The Private Eye do it, it’s brilliant. It’s becoming sort of a childish knee-jerk criticism. There’s something better that can be done. Something more imaginative. More effective.”

Where did you study?

“I didn’t, those were the, ha, glorious days just before the recession when the internet was a new thing. I got some jobs as a teenager, 17 or so, which gave me enough money to decide I wasn’t going to be finishing my A levels. It worked out at the time. So I tried to learn on the way there and do that for money. I’m a Designer and Art Director now, I work with big budgets on big clients often, maybe million pound things. It’s like working for Hollywood…but I always want to get back to my artwork, thats what informs my world really.”

Your work seems quite anarchic, is there a conflict of interest dealing with all this money now?

“Yeah it can be, I find quite often it contradicts what I want to do. But equally I need, you know, cash! We need that money. We talk about money too much but it’s important. When I was younger things felt very positive and experimental and now it’s all very safe and careful. No one wants to put cash about so it’s difficult to pursue that work or any artwork that’s hellbent on money.”

If someone gave you all the money you needed what would you make?

“Well I always like having a good space to work in. I used to have a space in Leytonstone. It was great there with a few other people working there, you could pick up bits of the debris and rubbish and make stuff out of it. I don’t know. It’s not really about the materials or the equipment or anything like that. It’s purely about rent, that’s the big killer and that’s what the city of London is killing. They’re eating alive what makes this city distinct and interesting”

How has London changed since you grew up in Tufnell Park?

“When I went back to the East End in 2002, my Dad used to own the building opposite the tea rooms…which is now a Pret. He owned it in the 80s and there was very little there except old men burning rubbish in bins and a couple of places to go. Brick Lane Market and Spitalfields were quiet, slightly forgotten. It was a huge metal scrap yard, it was all a bit overgrown, kind of romantic and beautiful, that’s why I liked it. Now it’s something else altogether, but that’s just what happens. I’d like to fuck off somewhere else altogether but I don’t know where that is. Perhaps I’m reluctant. Doesn’t seem like it exists anymore. It’s a bit like tarmacking over Brick Lane. It’s called Brick Lane for a reason.”

John’s work will be featured at ‘All of This is Temporary’ on the 23rd of Feburary at Rich Mix Shoreditch.

Grab your tickets from here for £4, with all proceeds going to Crisis the homeless charity.

Images by John Karborn

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