Marilyn Minter

Marilyn Minter

Email interview with Marilyn Minter conducted by N. Elizabeth Schlatter, curator, November 2012

You’ve said that babies are metaphors and that they represent “a blank slate for the human condition—a beginning, and the clearest articulation of the ‘human condition’ unaltered.” 1 Would you mind expanding a bit on that idea? What are you referring to when you talk about the human condition, an unawareness of consciousness or maybe innocence?

Babies haven’t been programmed in to the desiring machine.

The children in Playpen have varying expressions of expectation, surprise, and glee. I know that pleasure is a theme that you explore in much of your work. Was it important to you that the children in Playpen be seen enjoying themselves?


Where does the soundtrack in Playpen come from? Is it recorded from the actual action taken place in the video? Is it manipulated? Did you focus on the “fluid” sounds in particular, and if so, why?

The sound was totally manipulated – it was manufactured in the studio for obvious reasons.

Not surprisingly for an exhibition about flow, a number of works being presented address or capture the movement of fluid. You’ve worked with fluids as a primary part of the content and material in much of your work throughout your career. Could you describe what it is about fluids/fluidity/fluid motion that fascinates you? Is there something about its materiality and about its symbolism that repeatedly draws you to utilize/depict it?

I don’t know. I’ve always been interested in things that drip, things that sweat, wet things.

Why did you decide on a metallic fluid, and silver in particular, in this video and in others?

Strictly aesthetic reasons.

I read the following quote from you: “I like to make pictures of things that exist but that you really don’t see….” 2 There are a number of works in this exhibition that focus on frozen moments, interactions of forces (e.g. magnetism and wind), and other entities that are typically unseen (e.g. communication). Why do you think artists like to “see” these things and then share them with others?

I like to think that artists are people that shine a light on life and the times we live in.


Marilyn Minter: “Playpen” 2011 from Salon 94 on Vimeo.



Marilyn Minter (American, born 1948) received her B.F.A. from University of Florida (1970) and her M.F.A. in Painting from Syracuse University (1972). Recent solo exhibitions have been held at the including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2005, the Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati, Les Rencontres d’Arles festival in 2007, France, OH in 2009, La Conservera, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Ceutí/Murcia, Spain in 2009, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH in 2010 and the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Germany in 2011. Her video Green Pink Caviar was exhibited in the lobby of the Museum of Modern Art, New York for over a year, and was also shown on digital billboards on Sunset Boulevard in LA. She has been included in numerous group exhibitions. In 2006, Minter was included in the Whitney Biennial, and, in collaboration with Creative Time, she installed billboards all over Chelsea in New York City. In 2009, she had solo exhibits at Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Salon 94, New York. In 2011 Minter had a solo exhibition at Team Gallery, New York. She was featured in Commercial Break, at the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture and POST, for the 2011 Venice Biennale. Her work was featured in “ Riotous Baroque,” a group exhibition at the Kunsthaus Zurich, that travels to the Guggenheim Bilbao in June 2013. Minter currently lives and works in New York.

Read more about Minter and her work


  1. Sameer Reddy, “Autumn Ideas on the Walls,” Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2011
  2. Linda Yablonsky, “Artifacts: Marilyn Minter’s Oozing Desire,” The New York Times Style Magazine, October 28, 2011