Video Interview:2010 Kunsthalle Wien

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Kunsthalle Wien Interview
Gerald Matt and Manson
Interview with Marilyn Manson
Date June 28, 2010

The curator for Manson's 2010 art exhibition Genealogies of Pain at Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna, Austria sat down with Marilyn Manson to discuss his art and inspirations.

Part 1
Part 1


Gerald Matt: You're well known as a musician and as far as I know you started painting very early, parallel to the other career. So what does connect the musician with the painter, with the visual artists and where do you see the significant differences?

Marilyn Manson: I think there has always been, when I look back at the records I have made in the past they have always been in my mind, sort of movies or stories, like visual and lyrically I think when I look back at my old lyrics they were very visual like you would see in a script, like an Alfred Hitchcock script. Alfred Hitchcock wrote these very visual scripts, the dialogue was very minimum. When I started painting I started to learn maybe more how to make music differently, so it complemented each other to me personally as expression. I think that I have tried to separate the two for quite some time because I wanted to earn the respect as an artist, simply as an artist. I didn't want it to be related to people knowing me as Marilyn Manson and I think this exhibition marks a very important part of my art career for me. It's very important to me it is the most relevant exhibit in my career as an artist. That inspires me because I am making a new record and I want to now cross those two boundaries where it's no longer separate and not self-conscious of keeping them apart. I was very self-conscious of combining them because I didn't want it to seem as a hobby.

GM: For me there is an essential issue you are dealing with, a kind of theme which is based on in a way the story of evil. There is pain, fear and when I saw your work I got the feeling this is the significant part of history of evil. So what does interest you about that aspect of life which is important for us all.

MM: If you look at fairy tales or cartoons or children stories or The Bible or any work of fiction. The Villain has always been the more appealing character with the more human qualities, the character I could be related to far easier than the hero which is almost unattainable and its unrealistic. The hero I think, is also very hypocritical in most stories, and I think that is why anyone who is an artist will always identify with what the status-quo will identify as negative. Negative is always relative to who's opinion it is. Good and Evil is two words, it's part of man and man has both and if you don't have both then you're not a complete soul. I think that people often mistake me for a nihilist because they think that I don't care about anything, or an atheist because I don't believe in god. I think what I believe, is that god is synonymous with art, creation really defines mankind's desire to find the definition of god; The Bible is a basic reference creation. An artist put things into the world makes things that people can identify with, some people will hate them some people will love them but you're putting something into the world. Ironically then you've got politicians and religious leaders that want to take things out of the world and they are standing behind the guys of representing the very book that suggest the exact opposite. That's why I have always attached myself to being angry about the hypocrisy in America but I’ve changed my opinion on that so much that it's not as eventful or as effective as an artist to simply complain about the hypocrisy as much to add to what I consider to be positive but some people might consider it to be perverse or negative or dark or whatever the opinion is but that's all art.

GM: This bi-polarity between good and evil in a way dark and light and moral and immorality is also reflected in your name Marilyn Manson. Marilyn Monroe is like the dream, the American dream and then Manson is the nightmare. So was that the reason also why you connected those two names?

MM: That's definitely why I attached the two together, and also growing up in America people referred to Marilyn Monroe as simply “Marilyn” and Charles Manson as simply “Manson“. So it had a lot of different reasons it was a magic word when I put them together like Abracadabra. Also I think it becomes very strange when you say the bi-polerness of it; of course it's a psychiatric term in America that I’ve probably had applied to me more than once. I have a very strong opinion psychiatry someone asked me about that earlier today. Psychology is one thing; understanding the human mind but I think that to try and diagnose the mind of an artist could essential destroy it because without the Angels and Demons that exist in your head you cant be an artist. There is that element that as an artist you're always going to be tortured essential that's what people see it as. But I have come to not feel tortured as an artist I feel I’m accustomed to it, I try to just make the good feelings more than the bad feelings. As long as you're creating art I think that ends up making you feel good. When you have any sort of torture in your soul and you can express it and get it out its always something that makes you feel better that makes you feel like a person. It's when you can't - and there has been times when I couldn't actually make a song or I couldn't make a painting - that's the times when I felt tortured. When people think that I'm tortured, when I'm making art I don't feel tortured at all, I feel very satisfied.

GM: Watercolour’s is your favourite media, you love to work with that, why?

MM: It's the one I identified with first and most, I think I started with maybe ink, and I liked ink because it was very black and white, but I felt like I needed to add color. For the most part I liked the way that it soaked into the paper. I paint on the floor on my knees, I can't paint with the canvas up right because it will drip. Which I have stood things up and let them drip down, but only for an intentional look. I like watercolours because they stain things and it's very intimate I feel like there’s like a relationship where I have to sit and watch the water drying and as it moves and it spills and I'm fighting also with my two cats that like to run in and out of the room. There is a whole relationship going on and I like it to be very quiet and I paint at the very last hours before sun rise, that's when I am most creative.

GM: It gives you something vague, more silent more sensitive the way you use the water colours. I got the feeling when I looked at it, it is like you look in a kind of melancholic way, in a kind of even romantic way to the subjects.

MM: I would say it's very romantic, and that's a strangely single-handedly defined words sometimes. Romantic to me it is dark, it is fatal it is all these things. A lot of times I like to use a large pallet, the one that I use it's my favourite is this Alice in Wonderland tin kit that is very much out of date. It has a greater spectrum and a lot of pastels colours, which is very uncharacteristic of the subject matter that I choose. I like to rather than doing black and white harsh shadows I will use color for shadows. I don't really have an explanation for my technique as far as I don't know how I came about the technique. I will paint something, stand over it and take a picture of it so I can see the depth, and that's really my only way of creating dimension because when you paint on your knees, the format I paint which is about 3 feet tall, so it's hard to tell perspective. Now I use my iPhone it's easier, but I had Polaroids until they stopped making them.

GM: The last question is about your relation to David lynch and lynch's work as this show deals with his early videos and your watercolours. What is fascinating if you look at David Lynch? I think you even played in a movie of his…

MM: Lost Highway, yes.

GM: Lost Highway, but if you look at it artistically?

MM: Well he's always been just artistically regardless of him as an installation or a painter or someone who puts his art somewhere other than in a film. Just simply as a film maker I have seen him as an overwhelming inspiration as an artist. Blue Velvet was the very first movie that I really attached myself to emotionally. I thought that it was, besides the colour pallet, the use of film speed and the combination of sexuality and violence, and sound, and the close-ups, I think cinematography wise it’s just brilliant. When I got to meet him, he's a very unusual guy, I mean he would say the same thing about me I'm sure.

GM: Yes he did. So you're happy with the show and the combination?

MM: It couldn't be a greater compliment to be alongside someone as a greater inspiration to me as him. I think that he's indefinable as an artist. I mean he's most noticeable as a director but he's indefinable I feel he can do anything. When I first went to his home he had some sort of carcass nailed to a giant door of sorts and he was in the process of making and he showed it to me. I was just astonished by the whole experience, the flies, the wine that we were drinking at his kitchen table. It was like in the middle of some very quaint movie about the mid west and we were sitting drinking wine, no air conditioning it was very hot there was flies buzzing around the carcass. I thought “this is David Lynch, this is beautiful.”

GM: I think people who come to see the show will also be astonished when they see you two. Thank you so much.

MM: Thank you.