millie brown has us blinded by the light
We catch up with the light-absorbing vomit artist shortly before her new performance in New York.
Millie Brown is a 28-year-old, LA-based performance artist, most famous for vomiting dyed green milk onto Lady Gaga at SXSW. It was a performance that generated controversy, with critics accusing it of endorsing bulimia, a condition that Lady Gaga has admitted to suffering from in the past. Millie though, maintains the vomit works are misunderstood meditations on struggle, beauty, and part of a ripe, long tradition of body art that takes in the recently deceased Chris Burden, as well as the body fluid obsessed works of artist's like Marc Quinn, Andres Sorrento, Martin Creed and Tracey Emin.
Her new performance Blinded By The Light began at sunrise this morning at Center548 in New York. Millie's body bathed in a column of light, sound and time, with the ultimate aim of reaching a state of enlightenment and purity through the inevitable transformation she will undergo during the performance; and continue to go beyond the limits we place upon our mental and physical abilities. We spoke to her a few hours before...
Blinded by the Light runs continuously for four cycles of the sun. What are you anticipating most from this performance?
Every time I create a performance I feel an overwhelming sense of liberation at the end, it's like freeing yourself from mental and physical boundaries. I'm looking forward to the journey I'm about to embark on and exploring where my mind takes me. We are a part of this ADD generation; we're never fully present, with our heads are in a million different places. During the Wilting Point performance so many things came flooding back from 10 years ago that I'd never thought about since they happened. I was able to actually process what I didn't give myself the time to.
Is performing at length in solitude a form of therapy, which allows you to independently access, process and ultimately overcome things?
In a way it is like therapy. Performance art allows me to express something that I can't articulate. Without it, I don't think I would be able to survive. The times that I'm not expressing myself through these performances I'm lacking a massive part of myself and I'm therefore unhappy. It is completely essential for me to continue performing.
Prior to performances like Wilting Point where you spent 168 hours in complete isolation with only water as sustenance, you were often referred to as 'the girl who vomited on Lady Gaga.' Do you feel like your vomit art was disregarded?
A lot of people may have disregarded that body of work because I don't think they understood the cleansing, spiritual side to it. The similarities between each piece of art I create are that it all comes from within. I am always using my mind and body in unison to create my artwork; even with vomiting rainbows. Beforehand, I'm fasting but I'm also cleansing my mind and immersing myself into this deep meditative state where I prepare to construct this performance. That element has always been a part of my work. It's caused a fair amount of controversy over the years, which I also embrace. It's important to open the discussion and it's great that people at least feel something.
How do you prepare mentally and physically for long duration performances?
I feel like every single day is preparation for my performances. I've been fasting, I run and meditate daily, it's a constant thing because It's not like I have time off and live this alternate life; I continually live in this frame of mind.
Are there major differences between theatre and performance art as a form of entertainment? Do you feel like there elements of theatre within your performances?
The performance is always real for me. There are no rehearsals, even the performance where I vomited my first rainbow. I had never made myself sick and I wasn't even sure if I was able to do it. I want every performance to be raw and real, whatever happens throughout. Nothing is done just for the audiences' sake, even if I'm exploring a side of myself that I don't normally express when I'm alone.
Do you consider your audience and wonder how their reactions, positive or negative, will affect you and your performance?
I definitely do but I don't put too much focus on it. For this piece the public will be able to view the performance 24 hours a day, I want people to be able to come in and see me at any point during that time. I'm really interested in seeing how the energy of the audience will effect the overall performance and myself. A man at my previous show would come by everyday and meditate with me. Others would walk by and almost be disgusted by it. I welcome it all. I want to see where my mind goes and I'm looking forward to the audience experiencing it with me.
Text Zeyna Sy