Transplanted UK songstress M.I.A. interviews visual artist Kehinde Wiley in this month's Interview, but as usual she ends up with the more interesting quotes. Despite the fact she lives in Bed-Stuy with her fiancé Ben Brewer, she calls New York a wasteland for young artists, and looks back nostalgically on her time in her native war torn Sri Lanka. Is she about to piss off her considerable fanbase again?The visual artist and musician tells her friend Wiley that, "Manhattan seems pretty developed, you know what I mean? Like it has peaked in culture. The Village Voice called it McHattan. It's just become impossible for young, creative artists to live in New York." Should she finish that sentence with "and afford to buy my concert tickets?" Considering the rising hype from this cultural wasteland is what brought the multi-talented musician and artist to prominence in the first place, her subsequent crack that she detects an overwhelming "feeling of entitlement" from the city's denizens is bound to turn off some of her unemployed, struggling supporters. She recalls attending a recent event at the MoMA:
I performed at a show at the MoMA. There was this big dinner there, and I was seated in this hall with the mayor of New York and all these extremely wealthy art-supporting and art-buying people. There was a piece of work hanging in the hall—it was a fan. This fan was supposed to swing by the momentum of its own propeller. So, while we were having dinner, the fan was stopped, and the guy next to me, a curator at P.S.1, said, "Look, this is what art symbolizes today." Like, that piece of art is supposed to be moving, but just to have dinner we've stopped the art. That's what New York is like today. You can't have real art happen in an institution because rich people can make the world stop.
The conversation drifts towards the subject of authenticity.
That's what I miss, being a real human. Like, I'm just so grateful for the 10 years that I had in Sri Lanka when it was in the middle of a war and I was getting shot at, because now and again I remember glimpses of those times and I just go, "Wow, I'll never, ever see that again in my life. And I'm never gonna feel that, and I'm never gonna feel for a human being like that."