So it sounds like this was the turning point in your work. When did you shift roles, and begin to feel comfortable with the notion of being an “artist?”
Basically my transition to “artist” took place over several years. First of all I had some important encounters—not with artists, not with graphic designers, but with intellectuals. However brief these encounters were, they put me in contact with people who helped me to take my trajectory seriously. They helped me to understand that my choice was political, not artistic, that I was refusing to become an artist for confused reasons. I was denying art on the grounds that I found it too navel-gazing or too technical. The fact was that I simply found art too formalistic. I realized that I had to make the choice to be an artist because only as an artist could I be totally responsible for what I did. The decision to be an artist is the decision to be free. Freedom is the condition of responsibility. I realized that to be an artist is not a question of form or of content, it’s a question of responsibility. The decision to be an artist is a decision for the absolute and for eternity. That has nothing to do with romanticism or idealism, it’s a question of courage.
— Thomas Hirschhorn