Rupert Jaeger goes by many titles; artist, spokesperson, and most recently the man behind one of Hundred Years Gallery’s most recent exhibitions, Hostile Takeover. In ‘Hostile Takeover’, Jaeger tackled the topics of commercialism and consumerism, whilst also touching on concepts such as time travel and nostalgia.
In the lead up to his exhibition, Jaeger took to social media, posting obscure video footage and posing as a ‘nefarious financial spirit’ taking over Hundred Years Gallery in Hoxton. The playful way in which he cleverly incorporated the use of storytelling automatically grabbed my attention, and in particular his post on social media channels two weeks prior to his private viewing. (Shown below)
I am a nefarious financial spirit that has taken possession of the Hundred Years Gallery.
This Hostile Takeover is all-encompassing, entailing every physical, spiritual and other intangible aspect that constitutes the very existence of the Hundred Years Gallery.
I am now in possession of the gallery’s financial assets, define its legal structures and as of today have taken complete control of corporate communications, including all Social Media Channels.
Resistance is futile, yet rewards for engagement are plentiful.
Needless to say, the private viewing which fell on the 22nd of September was a huge success. Hundred Year’s Gallery’s Montse Gallego admitted defeat to the financial spirit, and his victory was celebrated throughout the night.
(Photo from Hundred Years Gallery’s Facebook page)
Following his exhibition, I had a chat to Rupert about the central themes he discusses in his work, and to get a sense of what ‘Hostile Takeover’ was all about.
Q. What drew you to the art of story telling?
A. I consider my life, and life in general, a story. All I do is record what happens around me, and in that sense story telling is an integral part of my life.
Q. Describe Hostile Takeover in a sentence or two
A. Hostile Takeover is a declaration of love to Capitalism.
Q. With social media websites like Facebook and Instagram reaching their peak of popularity, there seems to be a shift in the values of young people today. More often than not, it seems as though individuals are valuing an experience over consumer goods. As an artist who’s work often focuses on the theme of consumerism, do you personally believe we are seeing an increase or decrease in the need to spend money?
A. Growth is an inherent aspect of capitalism. The need to spend more and more money is a logical consequence of that. In principle, I don’t have a problem with the concept of consumerism or money. My artworks are my products, and if someone is willing to buy those, I see it as an appreciation of what I do. The problem in my opinion is that we have lost the ability to appreciate, let alone love our own products. This loss, ultimately, is being compensated for by attaching an artificial mathematical value to a product, without any real relation to the love that has – or should have – gone into the production of any given product.
Q. You previously worked as the Head of Communications at a global architecture firm. Do you think this has played into your work today as an artist? If so, how?
A. Yes, my work as HoC at Design International had a huge impact on my work as an artist. In a nutshell, it brought out the antagonist in me. He is a crucial tool for my artistic ambitions. In practical terms, he is as an agent of strategy, and of course he is a key character in the wider story I am trying to tell.
Q. The ‘Antagonist’ and ‘Protagonist’ are recurring characters in your work. Did you always invision that they would play a role in many of your videos, and perhaps even contribute to your image as an artist?
A. Both characters evolved somewhat organically over the last five years as part of a series of projects I was undertaking, with the antagonist entering the scene only last year. I have always had ‘bigger plans’ for the characters, but during Hostile Takeover they took on a new meaning that I had not envisioned before. In that sense they have taken on a life of their own that is now beyond my control.
Q. And, for you, do they represent anything in particular?
A. The Protagonist represents creativity, innocence and curiosity. He is the archetype of the artist, who explores ‘Forbidden Areas’, which most people would not dare to enter. He has the ability to travel in time and enjoys eternal life.
The Antagonist is the Protagonist’s nemesis, even though they ultimately work towards the same goal. He is a skilful navigator of structures that are measured solely in Zeros and Ones, yet he will enter forbidden areas only once the Protagonist has declared them safe. The Antagonist is the Grim Reaper.
Written by Sweet ‘Art’s Melina Payne