interview | mario mankey
at times, to some, (let’s not assume or exclude), it seems modern life has reached a boiling point where everything is backward and our only shot at redemption is via total consumption by a black hole. mercy! if you share a similar sensation each time you step outside or stare at your screen(s), then mario mankey is your man.
mankey is a berlin-based sculptor and muralist who exposes the contradictions of the human condition through abstract and challenging works. punchy, symbolic and subtly direct, he’s been experimenting with different methods of raising awareness for warped ways of living since 2010.
colabs interviewed mr. mankey on his personal challenges, frustrations with a male-dominated society, and his views on interplanetary colonization.
When did you first realize you were an artist?
When the audience, more than one time, deeply understood what I wanted to express.
How do your concepts come to you?
Fortunately or not, my obsessions, or the strongest thoughts I have everyday are what shape my art pieces. They usually pop up spontaneously.
How does your surrounding environment influence your work?
I am sensitive and reactive to certain actions that happen in my environment, and my personality typically focuses in on one and transforms it into art. This keeps my mind healthy. I do a chronicle on humankind—about our nature and also our contemporary situations. It's my way to make my condition and profession useful. Also, art gives you focus and it's the responsibility of the artist to make a profitable match with the society while still twisting the audience and expanding the social boundaries.
Can you provide background/context for your recent work, AHOTGIRL?
It has different interpretations.
On the one hand, the mural is related to an obsolete male and oil fueled society. Before this mural, I was using the horse as a metaphor of the nature, to show how we are riding our environment. The cars crashing are also part of this concept, but they demonstrate the result of extending the obsolete oil fueled system.
On the other hand, the mural is connected with the dominant male society in which we are living. Everyday I listen to people flooring the throttle, with no useful reason beyond showing their masculinity—because 99% of the people doing this are men. When this happens, I see a gorilla beating his chest.
Then we have a high heel on a cube that could resemble a trophy, with the word “Values” written on it. The cars are chasing the leg, but the the "Values" cube blocks them. The high heel can represent a new future, one that is more equal, female and sensitive. Or, on the other hand, how men try to chase a girl, and behave so desperately and primitive in doing so.
This was painted in my hometown, Puerto de Sagunto, where we have a school for adults. It's a good instrument that makes our city much better.
Can you also share the background/context for Power Legs?
This is also about female power. The world of the future needs to be more female driven, as I mentioned before. I have a haunting feeling that we are too late. I don't want to be pessimistic, but it seems like one step forward, two steps back. Male chauvinism is still so deep, from small details to big decisions.
Is there a theme to your current body of work? If so, what is it?
Unconsciousness, patriarchy, global warming.
What was the process like creating ego erectus?
That was a freestyle. I had the idea around 2012. I tried to do it in Berlin in an abandoned factory. The most important thing for me was that I wanted to do it with old, recycled newspapers and only biodegradable and found materials. That was my point at that time, but the idea was so ambitious that I wasn't able to do it.
Do you prefer sculptural work?
It depends on the concept, for ego erectus there was no point to do a painting. The technique has to follow the message.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Starting out. It was hard to convince people only with words that they should believe and support me because I was studying Industrial Design Engineering—nothing related with Arts. I felt alone, but it was my way.
How do you feel about the current state of the world?
I'm not the most optimistic about humankind. We are mostly dysfunctional, but we have some good sides to us, too. But everyday I still feel like it’s too late for us to save ourselves.
What did you have for breakfast?
Spinach omelette, bread and coffee.
If you could leave Earth behind and help to colonize another planet, would you?
We have a lot more to learn here before we can consider colonizing another planet. We don't deserve another planet unless we’re better evolved. Our ethics need to change and our genes do too—let’s see what happens with the Homo Deus...
What is your favorite type of human?
Someone who is cultured, with more consciousness than the average person.
interview by carter