purple DIARY

: Art
Lydia Lunch GALLERY


PAIGE SILVERIA - So you’re here in New York for a month while your show is up?

LYDIA LYNCH - Mostly. I’m nomadic. I’m around a lot of places. I don’t live anywhere. I’m on a rent strike for two and a half years.

PAIGE SILVERIA - But your friends whom you stay with are paying rent.

LYDIA LYNCH - I know. They should stop.

PAIGE SILVERIA - How does that work?

LYDIA LYNCH - I don’t know; it’s tricky. If you’re on tour a lot, it’s pointless to pay money to sleep, especially if you don’t sleep that much. So I’m just on a moral rent strike. We pay for too many things. I’m attached to so many of my belongings. That’s an American disease. I’m trying to sell all of my archives. I want nothing. Actually, I want four things: a nice bedspread, a nice curtain, a good lamp and a box to hold all of my toys. That’s about it. I’ve been living out of a suitcase for so long. I wear a uniform: a black wrap dress, you have two, you can wash them; that’s it. Possessions, they’re traps. They’re like tentacles. They keep you tied to a place. My body is home to me. I like it for now.

PAIGE SILVERIA - So how did this show come about?

LYDIA LYNCH - I’ve been photographing since 1990 and Jane Friedman approached me about doing a show. She’s running the gallery and has been on the scene for a long time, working with Patti Smith, John Cale and all sorts of people.

PAIGE SILVERIA - How did you decide what to include?

LYDIA LYNCH - It’s crazy. I’ve managed to hang on to everything I’ve ever done. I have 25 boxes in LA and 20 boxes in Spain. I just chose whatever made sense. The war montages are important to me because I’ve been speaking about war since Ronald Reagan. War is an exaggeration of man’s insanity. So the montages are just another language to get across my obsession with the violence that never ends. It’s easier for a lot of people to take than my spoken word.

PAIGE SILVERIA - Did you discover anything in the archives?

LYDIA LYNCH - A million things. I found a cocaine diary, which was very interesting. It had graphs, times, amounts of drugs, costumes, wigs, backstories … that was quite elaborate. It relates to the installation part, mainly because there were doodles and I don’t doodle. Taking notes about my insane transformation out of degeneration is one thing, but the doodles? Who did the fucking doodles? I guess that was me.

PAIGE SILVERIA - You’ve been spending a lot of time in Barcelona. Is the reaction to your work different in Europe than in the States?

LYDIA LYNCH - In Europe they understand that you don’t need to define what it means be an artist. There’s more opportunity to do all kinds of things there: art exhibits, spoken word, improv shows, hard rock. It’s a lot harder here because there just aren’t as many spaces. There, art still matters.

PAIGE SILVERIA - It doesn’t matter here?

LYDIA LYNCH - Of course it matters to some people, but commerce is the over-running thing. In Europe they have a better understanding of the history of trauma in general, and war, and a lot of art comes out of the trauma zone. Most art comes out of pain. Not all of course, not dance music.

PAIGE SILVERIA - They’re more in touch with themselves?

LYDIA LYNCH - Well they’ve had a longer history to absorb what reality is, what death means. Or what passion is. They read more, go to school longer, have respect.

PAIGE SILVERIA - When did you realize that you wanted to leave New York?

LYDIA LYNCH - When I left in 1980, I’d been here three years. Then I came back and left for good in 1990. I just found it too homogenized, commercialized, expensive, boring. If you’re writing from experience, it makes sense to travel. It’s not mandatory, but for me it’s important. Plus, there are hundreds of spectacular cities. New York is not the center of the universe. In Europe it’s known as the asshole of the universe. People get so trapped by the cog. They’re just part of what the machine is.

PAIGE SILVERIA - What you want exists only here?

LYDIA LYNCH - You have a very narrow vision then. I’m also always trying to break all of our habits and patterns. But also, because of Bush, the stealing of the second election and the becoming of the police state. Now here we are in fascism. It’s a fucking police state. Welcome to America, asshole.

PAIGE SILVERIA - You’re also pro-gun.

LYDIA LYNCH - I’m American, god-dammit. Of course I love weaponry. I think everyone should feel safe in their own home. When the enemy comes from within, well, I’ve been dissecting that idea for decades. But when the enemy comes from outside, everyone has the right to protect themselves, especially women. I can’t have any more of my nights stolen thinking someone might invade my room, my safe space.

PAIGE SILVERIA - Has that ever happened?

LYDIA LYNCH - Other than my father? I mean, the possibility is out there every day. Here seven million people are in the prison system put there by cops who probably should be there. So who knows what the outside force is? Any door can be broken into. I demand the right to feel safe in my own home. Ever since the Bronze Age when metal was turned into weaponry instead of jewelry. It used to be a matriarchy before the Bronze Age. I think it’s time to turn it around.

PAIGE SILVERIA - Are you constantly reading and educating yourself further?

LYDIA LYNCH - Sometimes I read a lot of books, sometimes 15 newspapers a day. And sometimes I don’t because it’s all the same. One of the lines in my war speech is, “Same as it ever was.” Every great disaster, every war, it’s just repetition. What more do you really need to learn? Like when Hurricane Katrina wiped out most of the population of New Orleans. I got really ill, just knowing why it happened. It wasn’t mother nature, who is always violent. It was man plotting to not repair what they knew was damaged and not saving the people that they wanted to get rid of. So sometimes I just don’t want to read anything. When you sit silently at a cafe, you can just exist in peace for a few minutes. The present enemy, the corporate cabal, has reduced people’s vision to the size of an iPhone. You’re looking at that all day, kids, and you’re not seeing the rest of the world. They’re not only breeding consumers looking at the little friendship-cog gossip, they’re reducing our attention span and making it impossible for people to just sit quietly alone and contemplate--maybe think about what’s wrong with themselves or what they’re not happy with instead of chasing after something that doesn’t exist.

PAIGE SILVERIA - Who influenced you?

LYDIA LYNCH - Hubert Selby and Henry Miller. I was attracted to these male writers because of the way that they dealt with reality and how they slightly fictionalized the stories. They didn’t glamourize or romanticise. They were trying to get to the point of something. And I, at 12 years-old, knew that there was a hole and that was the direction I had to go in.

PAIGE SILVERIA - So you’re just trying to wake people up all the time?

LYDIA LYNCH - Part of what people could never stand about me is that I’m very fucking intimate and trying to penetrate in. I’m never attacking the audience. You might feel attacked if you’re not listening to what I’m fucking saying. I’m using the language and the passion of the enemy to attack them, the enemy being the patriarchy specifically and the warwhores. I’m never attacking those in front of me when I’m crying with a fucking bull horn. It’s not pleasant; it’s not supposed to be entertaining. Truth is not a popular commodity; it never was. I’m trying to speak for those who are in pain and trauma. Give them the voice that they can’t articulate. You’re either awake or you’re not. I’m not going to change anybody’s fucking mind.

"So Real It Hurts" is on view until June 5th at Howl Happening! 6 East 1st Street, New York. Lynch will perform her "Conspiracy on Women" spoken-word piece on Friday, June 5, 7pm at the same space. "Conspiracy on Women" will be reissued on Other People. 

Text and photo Paige Silveria 

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: Art


What does the internet do? The internet hates. Obviously, it does lots of other things, too — it jump-starts insurrections, appropriates, lusts, scrambles, loves cats, disrupts. But hating often seems like what the internet does best, especially when it’s got a good troll. And it's done a lot of hating recently in response to Richard Prince's semi-revolutionary, drop-dead simple, often salacious Instagram paintings. For these works, Prince has been called a dirty old man, creepy, twisted, a pervert. All of which may be true — but true in a great way, if that's possible.

Thirty-seven of Prince’s New Portraits are now on view in the rear of Larry Gagosian's store — yes, his fabulous ground floor Madison Avenue bookstore. Each is an inkjet image of someone else's Instagram page — often a young girl posing semi-naked or maybe squatting to pee, laying on a gynecologist's table, or taking a provocative selfie — and printed on canvasses measuring about six feet by four feet. Think of it as Prince taking his paradoxical way of appropriating and representing images to deeper digital and libidinal levels.

How easy are these pictures to make? Prince scrolls or trolls Instagram feeds. For hours. He's a real wizard of his tastes; as honed to his needs as Humbert Humbert was to where Lolita was in the house. We could even say Prince invented our ability to notice some of the downmarket visual tropes that he’s looked for — motorcycle and muscle-car magazines, biker chicks. Now he’s turned to the ways people present themselves and their social groups to the world. Although none of the images are “his,” some of the portraits are people he knows. Fellow pictures artist Laurie Simmons is here; so is his old pal, writer and former Warhol Interview editor Glenn O’Brien, who recently wrote something that applies perfectly to Prince’s new portraits: “Andy always said the best look is a good plain look. Fashion is too vulgar.” Some of Prince's portraits are celebrities like Pamela Anderson; most are strangers. (In truth, I spent last year wishing unsuccessfully he'd do me. Especially after I helped reinstate his Instagram page after it was taken down due to obscenity. Prince had posted his own Spiritual America, his famous appropriated Gary Gross picture of the young naked Brooke Shields.) Prince finds an image he likes, comments on it, makes a screen-grab with his iPhone, and sends the file — via email — to an assistant. From here, the file is cropped, printed as is, stretched, and presto: It's art. Or stuff that's driving others crazy for a variety of reasons.

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: Art


"The World Of Chibi Cherry" by India Salvor Menuez explores the psychology of a young entertainer by incarnating her fears and hopes into various characters. Model Home, designed by Monica Mirabile and Sigrid Lauren, provides unique rooms to house each aspect. Chibi Cherry silently explores the sensations in each of these opinions. 

Anon, played by Alexandra Marzella, spews criticism online in the anonymous confines of the bathroom. She sits sourly on a towering pile of shit. Cherry Mama, played by Claire Christerson, offers hollow concern for Chibi Cherry in the shape of self-obsessed advice from behind her martini glass. These voices are both jealous, but either menacing or pseudo-protective. They ask Chibi Cherry to change who she is and align with societal expectations. Chibi Cherry dolefully listens to them while chewing on her banana phone. 

Venturing outside, Chibi Cherry joins Vola, played by Hayden Dunham, and practices Recon, a meditative exercise to “reconnect, reconsider, and recondition”. The etherial practice coaxes Chibi Cherry into a frenzied dance. The excitement of unifying mind and body leads her to new creative discoveries but they are locked in the frame of the therapeutic session. Vola is a creative crutch for Chibi Cherry’s inspiration, offering both the possibility for new discovery and barriers on how far it can be taken. 

When Vola calls the end of the session Chibi Cherry wanders off to meet Twin Self, played by Susannah Cutler. Twin Self is the idealized projection of who Chibi Cherry wants to be. They sit together swinging and smiling, locked into each other’s eyes, and Horse the Horse, played by Logan Jackson, waxes philosophical on the joys of nature. 

Ironically Horse the Horse becomes the conduit which returns Chibi Cherry from the blissful outdoors back into the domestic realm. He is the trusty steed of Gibby the Cowboy, played by Michael Bailey-Gates. Gibby is Chibi Cherry’s shallow-minded brother who offers more innuendo than assistance. His invitation causes Chibi Cherry to be cheerfully ill. She hides her wrenching behind a smile. As she and Twin Sister join Gibbi on Horse the Horse a bomb explodes on screens behind them, showing the clash between fantasy and reality.

The play-thing ends with Angelica, played by Olimpia Dior, murmuring profanities from the second story of Model Home. Angelica’s cries mimic an artist’s frustrations with their work. Her character appears to be in spiritual transcendence throughout the play but reveals her dirty mind in the finale. In the attic next to Angelica an unnamed character played by Beyo offers an apathetic view on the happenings below. He plays MineCraft while the events of the play unfold.     

“The World of Chibi Cherry” presents a fanciful parable for the creative process. Although Chibi Cherry never speaks, she is the only character with true agency. The other characters remain static in their roles while Chibi Cherry travels between them. They represent the struggles of jealousy, second-guessing, misunderstanding, false hopes and idols, or lack of acknowledgment which might deter an artist from their calling. Chibi Cherry embraces each of the characters and stays true to her unusual self.

Text and Photo Elise Gallant

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