The Myth of Public Acceptance

Guerrero: I once fell for the fantasy of uploading ourselves. It’s a dangerous myth that’s been popularised by a whole generation of artists who assumed that the moment they released their work into public consciousness, it had already been accepted by everyone. There was a brief moment in my early career when I saw this as a chance to do that, to release it into public domain, and to get everyone’s attention. And I thought: why not? The last time I’d really done anything like that, the most famous musician in Britain, the Beatles, were on their way to a stadium in Hamburg with an album they had just finished, yet there was no one there. And if a billion people had paid money to see the Beatles play at Hamburg’s Hofbräuhaus – a venue which, at that time, only had a capacity of 500 – then the whole world would have come. But they didn’t, because they were already in America and the press had given them a great platform.

The myth that had been born was, ‘Oh, it’s been accepted. Let’s take ourselves out of public eye.’ It was a naive little fantasy, of course. Public acceptance was never what we were looking for at the time. We were looking for a kind of notoriety, fame, and for a different kind of publicity, where there was something to write about.

With my work, I don’t believe that it’s been accepted. That myth of self-release is the most persistent of all. I mean, for me there was something that always made me feel as though I was playing a game of football – not just playing in a game of football but playing a game that I couldn’t hope to win. I did believe, though, that people did seem to be enjoying the music, which was a great relief for me. But this is a very selfish motive. I don’t just do it to have a nice life, and you know that. I’m doing it because it’s good for the music.

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