B: Much of your art involves some sort of collaboration with people you haven’t met. How do you introduce yourself to them and get them involved in your projects?
JM: That depends on the system or situation I am approaching. Besides calling myself a security ornamentation professional (which I am), I tend not to introduce myself with a title because, as I wrote above, that only leads people to make assumptions about who I am and what I want, neither of which is fixed. My recent project with the Dutch Secret Service was the first one for about four years for which I entered an institution as a commissioned artist. Oddly the title “artist” worked for me. The AIVD did not take art seriously, and thus gave little power to my role. This allowed me to progress farther into their system than they would have liked. But it is important to me that I do not misrepresent myself. I am not wearing masks. I take the law and the rules of the institution literally. By doing so, I do not reveal those institutions; they reveal themselves. Whether I call myself a security ornamentation professional, a personal data consultant, or an artist, I state what I am looking to do: I would like to decorate cameras; I want to be trained as an officer; I hope to find the face of the secret service. How I am referred to is another thing. If necessary I default to the term “researcher” because it doesn’t mean anything.
People collaborate for their own personal reasons, which become clearer to me as I get to know them, sometimes. Their reasoning can be inferred or considered by third parties through my books and installations.