german version

Interview with Liz Miller

A: Did you work specially for this show?

L: Some of the work I did specifically for the show: five photos and the other videos Idid for a previous show and that was curated into the show . When I arrived here ,I made some new work relating to the subject.

A: And the previous show was also somehow connected to the same subject?

L: Yes, sure. I had seventeen photos, three posters, a video trilogy, and two sculptural pieces. One of the sculptural pieces involved elements that I had used as props in the video.

A: So, how would you approach this issue of money and art?

L: Well, I think that I got started working in art about money, because of the need to have money to survive was causing me so much stress, and the need to spend money to make art was something which was constantly on my mind. I would like to avoid the idea of money and just have what I need, not live decadently and have my materials to make art, but this is just not possible. So I`m making art about this sort of struggle and the absurdity of this struggle, which means that I`m constantly working to make more money, to do what I want to do, and this is an endless cycle It seems crazy, just to have to spend so much time just to make money, when it doesn`t really feel that important to me in a spiritual sense. It's not very satisfying, but it's just necessary.

A: So you`re somehow also working with the representation of the female in this video you did specially for the "OK". So what is your approach to the subject?

L: Well, I`m female, and I can never make art from a male perspective. Money is power, and people generally use their sexuality to achieve power and seduce people, so they can get what they want. The idea of money as a symbol of decadence and sin is also fascinating when juxtaposed with the female form, its something which in see all the time in the media.

A: So it is about the interaction of two manifestations of seduction, of money and sexuality .......

L: Yes.Well, at first I started with making this video about the sort of extremes, people who will do anything to get money, things like violence and deception. And so I started working just over one year ago on this video trilogy which will be shown in the entrance way. I started with Goldfist, which basically means:¥ Money will fuck you, and there¥s no escape.¥ Goldfist" is a sort of ambient video about the nauseating gluttony of materialism and how it can even overide power, people`s true passions, or become people`s true passion, above anything else ;above family, above friendships, love, anything. I was really fascinated by the idea that people will basically deceive their best friend or husband or wife to get money, and then become more powerful. And really in some ways it works that way in society, I mean, you can accomplish a lot more if you have money than if you don¥t.

"Goldfist II" is a continuation of this. It`s not so ambient, it`s a very literal narrative, almost like a low-budget cult film or B movie.
I like this aesthetic. The first one I shot like a musicvideo more. The second one I shot almost like a horror-film. And the third one, which is "Goldglory", I shot using a more sleek, stylised, porno-aesthetic. In the third video, the narrative summarizes what happens in the first two: when you finally do get what you want, a certain amount of money, then you end up feeling sort of very dissatisfied anyway. You need something else, you need more and more. The seduction of materialism loses its attraction and becomes a pain. This is an endless cycle ..... there¥s never enough! You will always want more.

And now the other work, which is a series of photos. There were more photos that went with them, but these are the focal points of the still images. They are five very large photographs of my mouth, interacting with gold ..... stuffed, tied and twisted. I wanted to create a dialogue about beauty, pain and absurdity. There are sort of sadistic and humorous elements to these photos at the same time.

A: What could be behind the monetary value of art?

L: I think that the value of art generally relates to the context of art, I mean, art that has been in the "documenta" or in some museums then becomes more valuable because it is respected and a fetishised object. This is a very abstract concept. Some art might really appeal to me and I might think "It`s the best thing I¥ve ever seen!" It might be in somebody¥s studio who¥s never exhibited, who just makes art because they want to. That kind of work is often very valuable to me, it's usually got a lot of soul, but on the art market it might have no value.

It`s usually related to prestige. For me, the value of an art piece is based on the interaction between the concept and the form and how strong it is and how much it changes my perception or gives me a new sense of awareness, stimulates my mind; that`s what I find valuable in art. Something that`s very inspiring can be non-tangible, a soundpiece, or an installation that might just be about touch for instance. That could be a very good piece, which inspires me, not a commodified object. Some expensive work by an established artist might mean nothing to me - I couldn't care less about them, I¥d never buy a Frank Stella , for instance, his work leaves me feeling cold.

A: In the video you did for the show there is a female subject running through the mountain of gold coins. Do you see your work as a kind of critical approach to the subject or are you just working on these critical things?

L: A critical approach to the subject of the art market? I`m just doing what I want to do! I really enjoy the luxury of expression, expressing myself, and feel very lucky I`ve discovered the artmaking process, because I find it very satisfying.

A: So in your work there is a illusory connection between gold coins and chocolate?

L: Oh yeah! Money is an illusion, power can be an illusion. So I'm making an illusion that there`s a mountain of gold and it's really only chocolate and it's not even full, it's like a double illusion. And it's really full of nothing, really empty.

A: What about your approach to beauty?

L: I like to make things beautiful, but I have a strange aesthetic, like things which are bizarre or even repulsive to some people. I like to play with the boundaries of aesthetic pleasure. It's a lot of fun. I`m really interested in making art,and experimenting, learning from art,not always planning everything, the process of discovery, exploration and the chance of failure.
First of all I play with a concept, but that always changes. Also art is a language, a universal language and I think that a good art piece should communicate to people everywhere in the world and not only to an art-audience, but also to the general public. I think it`s important right now for art to become more universal, to inspire people in the same way that popular culture does. I aim to create work which provokes a response from the general public as well as the art community.

A:what do you thing about this connection i mean between stripping and your activity as an artist.

L: i need to give you some background before i answer your question:
i had already been working as an artist for a couple years, before i started stripping (remember i started quite young). i needed money and didn't want to work 40 hours a week to support myself (i considered working full time as 'selling out' to mainstream society). stripping seemed like an interesting alternative, and i didn't see anything morally wrong with it.

i must emphasise that i would always prefer to work as an artist full time, if i could support myself comfortably doing so. unfortunately, i'm not interested i making art on the basis of its commodity value...i would rather support myself another way and maintain the integrity of my work.

stripping is hard work, but some women who take it seriously make enough money to retire eatly in life. its like anything, really, it has its ugly side, and if you're lazy, you won't make money. a night dancing is as tiring as doing a performance piece, so i try only to work a couple days a week.

*ok, now i'll answer your question:
stripping is closely related to perfomance and time- based art in general.
an artist creates a visual language and a sense of timing to captivate the viewer and communicate his or her ideas and provoke an intellectual and emotional response.

as a stripper, i also use movement, expression and timing to create a visual language , also provoking a similar response, but the desired result is money, and hopefully, lots of it.

as a stripper, i put myself in a similar position as an artist does in the artworld. i have to be strong and focused and handle a lot of rejection. i also cannot let myself be affected by what other people think of me (unlike in europe, being an artist in america has a similar social status as a drug dealer or other scum-of the-earth criminal).

the main difference is the context. another difference is that, as an artist, if the audience doesn't respond to my ideas, i'm not going to starve, therefore i can take more risks.

alexander, i could easily write a book on this subject its quite complex. but i hope i've answered your question reasonably well.