Meet the People: The Miha Artnak, Artist, Designer & Prankster

By , 02 Jul 2019, 18:12 PM Meet the People
The Miha Artnak in front of his rabbits pattern, a familiar figure in Ljubljana The Miha Artnak in front of his rabbits pattern, a familiar figure in Ljubljana All images from The Miha Artnak, ZEK Crew or Ljudje

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We recently got in touch with The Miha Artnak, the notorious Slovenian artist that’s been trolling the media for the last two years. He’s been exposing the vulnerabilities of reporting with his fake news projects since December 2017, where he convinced the media that he sold an artwork for more than $1 million to a Chinese bank. As a result, he was on the radio, on the front page of the most widely read newspaper in the country, and the main story in the evening news.

In his next stunt, he used the existing visual image of BTC City to convince a non-Slovenian public that there was now a Bitcoin City in Slovenia. BTC City is a Slovenian shopping mall - which actually stands for Blagovno trgovinski center, and not Bitcoin. The fake news at first angered BTC City officials, but later inspired them to actually rename it, with Bitcoin City a registered trademark that’s gaining interest worldwide.

Miha is also a member of the ZEK crew and a managing director of the design studio Ljudje, which has produced work for, among others, the Museum of Architecture & Design, Klub K4, Flaviar Inc, and Gramatik

Not quite sure where to begin when interviewing such a figure, we decided the best approach was to just surrender control and let the man himself ask and answer his own questions,

The painting made out of bird faeces that was allegedly sold for more $1 million has changed the perception of how we value art, yet it still isn’t hanging in any of the museums. Now why is that?

It’s hard to comment on that. Maybe the current generation needs to be overthrown or maybe I just have a too high an opinion about my work. I haven’t marketed it to the right network. It’s also true that I don’t fill out applications and I don’t attend as many events as I should.

How did this project influence the art scene and the artists?

I definitely inspired people to lie more. But only in my circle of course. I need to change that.

And how did this affect the media?

The first fake news stirred some things up. They didn’t like it of course. But it made some people think. I still see loose ends though – journalists publish a lot of unverified news every day. I need to exploit that again.

Your recent performance, Crossing (Jaywalking), criticizes artists that think they can do whatever they want in the name of art – even breaking the law. How did the public respond to it?

The general public read this performance very differently. Most people outside of my bubble hated it. But that was the plan – I wanted to be perceived as a misunderstood bullshit artist that can do what he pleases without any consequences. So it pissed off a lot of people who then wrote ridiculous comments, which makes my audience laugh.

You just had an exhibition with your design studio Ljudje in the Museum of Architecture and Design. You’ve criticized design as a profession. Isn’t that hypocritical, or at least self-sabotaging?

I partly agree with that. All professions should evolve and get better in the quality of their work. But all professions are also subordinate to capitalism. We wanted to show that no matter how excellent the surgeon is, she still prioritizes her patients by wealth, the majority of people still vote based on the likeability of the candidate, and direct democracy prefers individual interest over the common good. The exhibition is based on the latest standards and trends in design but the problem lies in the initial input - ideology. This is a wake-up call. Is there a purpose? Is there a common goal? People are waiting for a better system to be articulated and give us meaning, and we’ll gladly help designing it.

What are the plans for the design studio, and your next art project?

We’d like to use design for a good cause, to work on projects that don’t create as much pollution, to create better interfaces for users, tell better stories and to create courses for the next generation.

I’m also getting ready for the ZEK 2020 exhibition and creating my first solo art exhibition. I can’t wait.

You can learn more about all these projects here, while the Ljudje design studio can be found here.

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