Miley Cyrus is much more than "a pop pop dumb dumb": just look at the incredible work she is doing for "My Friend's Place", a Hollywood-based drop-in service for homeless youth. Truly a rebellious spirit (see the cover of V91 The Rebel Issue), Ms. Cyrus has chosen to use a voice that already tends to echo to say everything that's on her mind, and in so doing, speak for a generation.
That's why when she asked V if we could display her latest creative venture - a collection of collaged sculptures entitled "Dirty Hippie" - we didn't hesitate to agree. Even so, we weren't quite sure what to expect, so we sent our arts editor Kevin McGarry to Los Angeles before she packed up all the pieces.
You’ve seen the late night transmissions via Instagram: raver bracelets, sparkle-coated candy wrappers, dime bags, a five-foot bong. From dusk until dawn, somewhere high up in the hills of Studio City, Miley Cyrus is madly tinkering away on all the shit she loves, making it into her art. Having mastered her own field before reaching her second numerical palindrome, she'd hardly be the first pop deity to carpetbag the art world for sport, only this is precisely what she's not doing. Miley's not here to make friends, she's here to make some fun shit. Cobbling together stadium offerings from fans with illicit substances and USB drives imprinted with TMZ-worthy selfies, her first series of sculptures are more earnest than an art school cynic might expect. I did a studio visit at Miley's studio-cum-living room, where she was putting the finishing touches on a half dozen sculptures that will be on view at the V offices' gallery at 11 Mercer Street, NYC from September 11th, and feature in Jeremy Scott’s NYFW show on September 10th. “We’re on the same wavelength—it’s like a psychedelic jungle,” Scott told me. “All of these stream of consciousness, colorful, playful, whimsical things mixed up together. I love that there’s a DIY feel to the sculptures, which is a part of the look of the show. I want it to be less about a model army and more about a group of cool, individualized people hanging out together.”
MILEY CYRUS When Jeremy [Scott] came here for a July 4th party, I had all these leis around, and I wanted to see how I could incorporate them into his show. I’m having the guy who made the bear I came out of at the VMAs last year come over tonight to help me fix all this shit because it’s kind of a mess. [Pointing out art pieces individually] This one’s a vibrator, which I got from a fan. They threw it on stage. And that’s a joint [attached to it], so that’s the vibe. I’ve gotten more and more about piling things on, but I try to put thought into everything. Even though it’s so stupid, I did the pineapple because you know what they say about pineapple, right?
MC Yummy cum? If you drink a lot of pineapple juice you’re going to have yummy cum. So that’s why I put it on the dick with a bunch of babies, and it says, “Fuck.” I try to think about everything so it has a story to me.
This one’s a party hat?
MC Yeah, this is the first one I did and it’s still not quite 100% done. It has an iPod player. You can play music. You put your auxiliary right there. It’s like the ultimate party hat. During that 4th of July party, I saw this party hat and I thought it might be fun to glue some shit onto it. I just made it for myself to wear. And then someone was like, Oh this is great, you should keep going… [Pointing] There are drugs in that, and then there’s a blunt… This one says, “In your dreams you can buy expensive cars,” which is really weird because when Jeremy was doing his collection, there’s some stuff that says, “Expensive.” There’s one thing that says, “Cars” on it. There are some key words that we had no idea we were both using.
Tell me about this camera.
MC I made Jeremy this because he loves to shoot, too. It’s a real camera. There are like, five pictures left, and there are pictures of me from tour on here. It’s a disposable, but when you take the picture it makes it look like you have a unicorn head, so when it prints out—it’s cool. They actually make boots that kind of look like this for the collection, too. So that was weird. I sent him this and then he sent me a picture of the new boots.
This mask with the little white bears is really different from the rest.
MC This is my favorite piece, but it's the one that’s taking the most time. I’m figuring out the strap now because I’ve done it so many different ways, and it keeps being too heavy and stabbing people. When I go through them all, I’m going to fix them and patch up some of these holes, because I started pinning them all on and then it got harder and harder to pin them. So some of them are kind of sewn on here… Whatever. [Pointing] At first this was just this, and then I had this in my hair one day and was like, Fuck it, I think it needs it. It kind of makes it tribal.
Sure, I can see that, you’re taking a bunch of consumer detritus and making symbolic, ceremonial objects out of it.
MC Yeah. This seems so fucking lame to say but I feel like my art became kind of a metaphor—an example of my life. Because a bunch of shitty things kept happening. I’ve always been so fucking lucky. Everything has always just been easy for me. And at the beginning of this year, I hated 2014 because everything that could go wrong kept going wrong. Being in the hospital, my dog dying...Everything just kept shitting on me and shitting on me. So then I started taking all of those shit things and making them good, and being like, I’m using it. My brother and my friends all said that’s what they felt I was doing. So, that’s how I started making art. I had a bunch of fucking junk and shit, and so instead of letting it be junk and shit, I turned it into something that made me happy.
It’s exciting you’re going to be sharing it with the world now.
MC Jeremy brought a lot of peace and self worth to me because even though to some people, it was just me gluing some things together, to me, it made me not a fucking pop star dumbass. And that’s my goal in my life: to not die a pop pop dumb dumb. I can’t. I will freak out. I just wanted to give myself something I can work at, and even now, if I had more time and I wasn’t on tour, I know I could outdo any of this because I’ve grown while doing it.
When is your tour over?
MC October. I can’t wait, just because I want to get home and I want to work on directing; I want to be doing this. I want to be learning. I enrolled in a CGI class. I’d like to make animations with these at some point. That’s kind of why I started doing them. I wanted to animate a lot of them, but then our tour budget got squashed because apparently it takes ten billion dollars to take shit to South America and Australia.
You are really into keeping yourself busy.
MC I just sit around and smoke weed anyway, so I might as well sit around, smoke weed, and do something. And this is me doing something. I love it. I mean, I’m up until seven in the morning doing this stuff all the time. It was much weirder when I started doing it while I was sober.
Have you ever studied art?
MC I haven’t. When I was in school—obviously, I think art is everyone’s favorite class—but I would get in trouble because I would always draw fucked-up things. I don’t know why, but I would always draw girls in a bathtub. I remember my teachers calling my parents and being like, What the fuck? I never had a bunch of time to just sit at home and do this. After Floyd died, I had a bunch of time at home. Being on tour was a big part of this, too, because I picked up so much junk along the way. I was in a lot of airports—airports are the best for hoarding—so I got a bunch of shit there, and the fans helped me hoard out a little bit. This fucking banana was a hamster toy at Petco and I Bedazzled it. [Pointing] And then there’s something like this, that you can take out and it’s bubbles. And then this. It’s like the Vivienne Westwood dick. A fan gave me that.
Do you have many friends who are visual artists?
MC I do. I’ve been working with Ben Jones [animator for Wonder Showzen and Yo Gabba Gabba!] a little bit. He’s really cool. He’s done a lot of stuff on tour. John K. [creator of The Ren & Stimpy Show], too. They’re both animators, which I’d like to get into. And Todd James, who did my bears and everything for the 2013 VMAs is really awesome and a good person to learn from. He involves sex in his pieces in a really cool way, which is what I want to do. I feel there’ s something fairly sexual here, besides just the dick. There’s something sexy about the masks. They’re a little fucked up and childish. Todd kind of did that for me, turning me into an adult baby.
For a lot of artists, one of the biggest challenges is finding an audience for what they make. Clearly, you already have one. So what do you feel you’re working towards?
MC I’ve been around a lot of money my whole life. They say money can’t buy happiness and it’s totally true. Money can buy you a bunch of shit to glue to a bunch of other shit that will make you happy, but besides that, there’s no more happiness. There’s no point in me focusing on getting any fucking richer. Obviously the shit you buy doesn’t make you happier because I’m sitting here gluing a bunch of junk to stuff. My whole philosophy with everything is: Do what you love and you’re not going to work ever again. You’re not going to work a day in your life if you’re doing what you’re into and you’re happy doing it. Don’t think about repercussions. My fans will be into it, especially because I’m involving them. It’s building connections with people. And I'll have my stuff on models—stuff that I’m excited for them to wear. I’m excited. And this is giving me happiness, so that’s all I have to focus on.
"Dirty Hippie" will be on display at 11 Mercer starting September 11th, 2014.