Interviewee: Shireen Liane
Interviewer: Marta Santambrogio
MS: Let's discuss your work. It seemed to click with quite a few people during the Degree Show. It surely clicked with me, first and foremost because it was straightforward. I was not quite sure what had led to it, or the thinking behind it, but it clicked, it makes you think, makes you react.
SL: Yeah, I had so many people - you know I was making the piece live during most of the Degree Show and really the making of the piece was about generating the conversation - and I had so many people come up to me. I mean like, dads being dragged around the degree show going, "Thank you! This is the only piece I understand!" and you know what, I really took that as a compliment! It is not a competition, but I thought maybe there is a time for art when you have to sit and digest for two weeks and still being not sure you get it, but I was glad it went straight to the point.
There is a Sinclair Lewis quote that says something like, "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross" and I feel like we have come to this point - and you know I have been guilty of it too. This point where discourse has just collapsed on itself, it feels like democracy is collapsing on itself - if that does not sound too doom-laden.
MS: Well I mean it's been the worst week for British politics...!
SL: Oh-my-fucking-god! As an immigrant, it has been just sitting here watching. I have indefinite leave to remain, I have lived here for 20 years. Go home? ...I don't have a home to go back to! It has been a terrifying couple of weeks.
MS: What do you think about the Chilcot Report?
SL: Well, my Facebook posts were counting down the days to the Chilcot Report, because watching the Labour Party set its hair on fire and act like a bunch of entitled 3-year-olds (actually 3-year-olds have better manners). Stabbing a man who was elected with a mandate with a capital M who does not play politics the way they play, watching them all try and push him out... it's been embarrassing! It's been disgraceful! It's been really upsetting. I don't know about anybody else but I haven't been sleeping well as a result of this. And in this last week we have had the Labour Party gain 60,000 new members. And I do wonder, which ‘Labour Party’? The Labour Party of the PLP, the Parliamentary Labour Party - who are acting like a bunch of entitled fucks? Or the CLP, which is the Community Labour Party, the members, you know folks on the ground who actually cast ballots and vote. So the Labour Party has gained all these people but which one? Who are they voting for?
The Brexit thing... just watching people who don't spend a lot of time decoding media, who don't sit around reading three papers a day - and that's absolutely fine, I don't feel I have the right to judge these people...but I would feel bloody free to judge the media, who were winding those people up, with no idea of where they were going to point them. It was just getting that ‘if it bleeds it leads mentality’; getting people mentally excited about something. Then they all voted for Brexit and the next day as the stock market crashes and the Pound falls, it suddenly occurs to them oh they won't be able to work and study abroad – [the media] left them going, “Well, what now?” Of course the main architects and the people who pulled the trigger on this shit-show have all backed-up at high speed...
Have you wondered if a year from now, next summer, we are all going to be sitting around going like "Brexit? What was that about anyway? [Laughs] ...I don't know! Remember 2K was supposed to be the end of the world...the Digital Armageddon... and then afterwards everybody is just, "Ummmmm..." It wouldn’t surprise me at this point if nobody pulls the trigger on Article 50, if everyone goes like, "Actually this was kind of a bad idea let's just sweep this under the rug and pretend it never happened!". I don't know - it was a real show of bad faith...I am most embarrassed of what the rest of Europe must be thinking of us right now.