Culture.

  • Mon, 15, Oct, 2018 - 5:00:AM

Amanda Palmer on making NSFW art about Harvey Weinstein

Amanda Palmer didn’t mean for her latest release to be so relevant. Mr Weinstein Will See You Now, her latest Patreon-powered THING – as she likes to call her art – is a potent, NSFW ode to sexual assault survivors. It tells the story of a woman’s mind splitting in two in the aftermath of a hotel room assault. And it’s damn powerful.

Palmer and collaborator Jasmine Power first released the song on May 23rd this year. On May 25th Harvey Weinstein turned himself in for arrest. The song and the event were unrelated, of course, but still… the timing was eerie.

She’s struck upon a similar moment with the release of the music video [above].

October 5th was chosen as the release date because it was the one year anniversary of the New York Times exposé of Harvey Weinstein. It’s an important anniversary – the Weinstein exposé was the catalyst behind the #MeToo movement. But the release was made even more significant thanks to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and Dr Christine Blasey Ford’s brave testimony.

One day after the video was released, Kavanaugh, a man accused of sexual assault, was confirmed to the Supreme Court. It’s almost as if Palmer doesn’t even try to nail the zeitgeist – the zeitgeist just pummels her instead.

I’ve been an Amanda Palmer fan for a long time, and I couldn’t be more proud that a hard-earned dollar of mine (as a $1 patron) contributed to such a cathartic piece of art – a piece of art made completely, and quite deliberately, by women. I reached out to Palmer via Twitter for an interview. We spoke via email.

With all your work, but especially this one, I tend to think I wish I had AFP’s way with words. Was this writing experience different to other work you’ve done?

This writing experience was unlike any I’ve ever had. I had not only met the co-writers two nights before, but we had had no plans to work with each other, the whole thing was just completely spontaneous. But the fuel beneath it was my patrons; I knew that whatever we wrote and recorded, we would release. And that kind of adrenaline and level of stakes led us all to do our best work under pressure.

I see there were over 50 women involved in the making of the video. What was that experience like?

It feels like a cliché, but it was life-changing. I am not used to being in a giant house with that many female crew and performers who are all bound by the same tenets. It’s really only very recently in my career that I’ve come to understand how almost every video project, recording project, and live show I’ve ever played has been largely helped by men. And never – until recently – have I deliberately tried to surround myself with females to see what would happen. The results have been empowering but also frightening: have I really spent my entire life missing this? Why?

You’re one of the few artists I can see who is making art in direct, non-euphemistic response to the cultural zeitgeist (Mother, Drowning In The Sound, Small Hands Small Heart). Do you think I’m correct in that assessment? And how do you feel about it?

I think if I think about it too much, I could ruin it. You know, I don’t see a coincidence with the rise of my Patreon (which is literally independent media, whereas other so-called “independent media” still has to answer to advertisers) and the state of the rest of the art and journalistic landscape. It’s lonely out here sometimes, but I’m building an army in this desert, and it feels incredible. And nobody needs to know or approve. We are just doing it ourselves. The thing that will probably get overlooked about this video is that it was CROWDFUNDED. It had no right to exist and will never make or earn anybody any money. It broke even. We just really wanted to make it for obvious reasons. But how many artists get to do that: spend $40k on a video that won’t improve any sales of anything and won’t sell albums?

I’m so fucking proud of us. We are truly making what feels like art from our hearts, for the people, of the people.

That’s really incredible and I can’t thank you enough, Amanda, for being an artist of the resistance. Finally, when can New Zealand expect to see you again?

2020, if all goes well!!

You can join Amanda Palmer’s Patreon here and help her make art for as little as $1 a month. 

TAGGED IN

  • Music /
  • Sexual Assault /
  • Harvey Weinstein /
  • Art /
  • Indie /
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Abigail
Johnson

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