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August 2008, Interview with Marilyn Minter and Alicia Thacker


Marilyn Minter and Alicia Thacker, photo by Dustin Thacker

Aimée Sinclair speaks with Marilyn Minter and Alicia Thacker

Part one: Marilyn Minter & Her Muse

Aimée Sinclair: Marilyn, you are credited with subverting the glamour aesthetic that has evolved from fashion and beauty media—as such, does your choice of subject work toward this end?

Marilyn Minter:
I'm not sure… but I've never been interested in models that are the cultures idea of perfection: porcelain flawless skin, symmetry, etc.

AS:
The present generation of American youth is perhaps the most color blind ever—despite this, the race polemic still persists across all milieus—in the July 2008 issue of Vogue there was a story examining the lack of black models used in fashion campaigns—how does being the product of a Southern upbringing in Louisiana shape your translation of beauty?


MM:
The most compelling legacy of growing up in the deep south was understanding at a very early age that I had to get out of there as soon as possible. I left at 18 and never went back.

AS: Due to the angles of your images, Alicia for the most part is presented as a woman of indiscernible race. On closer observation, her features appear European and yet there is irony here… To meet Alicia one realizes she is probably a mixture of many races. Is there a sentimental aspect in your selection of Alicia?


MM: I think mixed race people are the most compelling and most beautiful. I wouldn't call it sentimental as much as prophetic. To me, Alicia looks like the face of the future.


  Marilyn Minter
 Clown
, 2002
 
Enamel on metal
 40 x 40 inches
 Courtesy of Fredericks & Freiser, New York

AS: What qualities did Alicia possess that made you want to use her as your muse?


MM: Freckles.

AS: I remember reading a comment you made in which you told the interviewer about having watched many beautiful people who were unaware of their own beauty—until told they were beautiful. Please feel free to correct me here because I don’t remember the exact details—this is interesting in the sense that there exists a sense of incredulity in your lens…


MM:
I've never met a model who truly believes that she's beautiful—even a famous one. They know that they're not ugly, but they don't know what the fuss is about. Maybe there are models out there who know they are beautiful, but I've never met one.

AS: Scholars who have studied the history of cosmetic fashions and the changing ideals of beauty over time do so as a means of understanding cultural fluctuations, changes in moral attitudes, social conditions etc. If you had to imagine yourself in the position of social scholar, outside yourself, what clues would you find in your own images? particularly in the sociopolitical arenas, things such as wars and revolutions if any?


MM: I wouldn't know how to begin to answer this question.


 Marilyn Minter
 Drool, 2003
 C Print
 Image courtesy of Salon 94, New York

AS: Marilyn, you are a painter and photographer… Can the term caricaturist also apply?

MM:
No. Not even close.

AS:
I can’t help but wonder about the role that you assign to beauty in your daily life…What is a consistent beauty ritual for you?


MM: Bathing is a must.

AS: To end, I must make a confession, the brilliant red of Alicia’s lips remind me of Dorothy’s ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz… If you could go see the wizard, what would you ask him for?


MM: World Peace of course… and then ten million dollars!!


Marilyn Minter
Cry Baby, 2001
Enamel on metal
48 x 48 inches
Image courtesy of the artist.

Part two: Alicia Thacker —The Muse

Aimée Sinclair
: Was this the first time posing for an artist?

Alicia R. Thacker:
Yes, and I was terrified. I didn’t know what to expect and I was honored that Marilyn had even asked me

AS: How did you meet Marilyn Minter?


ART:
When I was getting my Bachelor’s at the School of Visual Arts I heard that everyone was clamoring to get into her class. I got in and on the first day of class I arrived late and the class was filled. She eventually let me in and later told me that it was because she had been looking for someone freckled to photograph and paint. I immediately agreed to sit for her.

AS:
Did you have any preconceptions about working with Marilyn that were later shattered?


ART:
In class Marilyn was tough. She was known for, and appreciated for, her brutal honesty. I didn’t know what to expect when I went to her studio. Marilyn was a dream. There was an immediate connection and I often called her my second mother.


 
Marilyn Minter
 Quails egg
, 2004
 Enamel on Metal
 Courtesy Salon 94, New York

AS: What came to mind the first time you laid eyes on the finished work?


ART: I was in awe. The paintings were exceptionally inspiring. The way Marilyn frames her photographs is such a different process than how she paints. The photographs are spontaneous and organic, and her paintings are deliberate and instinctual. It is a happy marriage.

AS:
What picture of yourself did you like best? Why?


ART:
My favorite is Vomit. I think this is Marilyn’s favorite one as well. As the title suggests, I was literally vomiting that huge string of pearls. This was of course nothing to be embarrassed about, it was what we wanted. Marilyn even took care to leave a bucket by my feet in case it was too much to handle.

AS: When you looked at images of yourself for the first time, did you feel connected to yourself?


ART:
I felt more connected to Marilyn than I did to myself. I became a representation of her. I saw myself differently. She captured some embarrassingly beautiful moments and had created perfect moments out of my imperfections. She would call me and ask if I had any new blemishes. That is the side of beauty that Marilyn is interested in.


Marilyn Minter
Jawbreaker, 2004
C Print
Image courtesy of Salon 94, New York

AS:
Did anything change in your life after posing for Marilyn?


ART: No, not at all. Marilyn introduced me to Richard Kern, she thought we would work well together. I’m embarrassed to say that in my numerous moves over the years I’ve lost his number.

AS:
The images of you are partial and mostly feature your lips… How did this come about?


ART: The idea was more about getting into my pores. Marilyn was shooting for the growth of a new blemish, a stray wispy hair on my face, or a magnified freckle under of bead of water. The lips almost became a reference to insatiable beauty. The bigger the better, the more greedy, the more hungry.


Marilyn Minter
Sunspots, 2007
Enamel on metal
48 x 48 inches
Image courtesy of Salon 94, New York

AS:
What is your relationship to fashion?


ART:
We are estranged lovers. I adore fashion and guiltily read fashion blogs and magazines. I will admit, however, of my obsession with fashion television shows. As for my wardrobe, well, I wouldn’t call it fashionable. It’s not as tragically hip as it should be for someone my age.

AS:
If you were able to go visit the Wizard of Oz, what would you ask him for?


ART:
The rest of my body to be covered in freckles

AS: Finally, I cannot resist asking… what shade of red lipstick were you wearing ?

ART: Fantastic question. I don’t know what brand or shade it is. It’s Marilyn’s personal lipstick.

Aimee Sinclair, NY

Aimée  Sinclair is a freelance writer who lives and works between Miami and New York. She graduated from Columbia University in 1999 with BA in sociology. While at Columbia, she wrote her thesis under the tutelage of influential sociologist Herbert Gans - Her thesis project consisted of a sociological study of the informal support systems that evolved amongst communities of African-American and Latino artists in NYC.

Presently, she is a contributor to Whitehot Contemporary Art Magazine, M - The New York Art World and Miami’s Diet Gallery Newsletter.  Her latest book project is a photographic satire of people having sex in cars.

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