By: Scott Silverman, Special Correspondent to Coagula – Really, Really Special
SS: Okay. I’m very busy. I’ve got an interview at quarter of four with this new guy everybody’s raving about. Wunderkind, apparently. Recreating the entire Monet oeuvre, one dot per canvas.
LAINIE LIBERTI: Fascinating.
SS: And just yesterday, I met a woman who sells only her negative space! It was really something. Her nothing. Was.
LAINIE LIBERTI: Uh-huh.
SS: So. Let’s get right down to it. Who the Hell are you, why did you change your name to Lainie Liberti and why should I care?
LAINIE LIBERTI: If you don’t mind, I’d like to take those in reverse order--
LAINIE LIBERTI: You should care because our government continues to seize our personal liberties like they were only ours on loan. From them.SS: But they’re not on loan! It’s our government. We own these freedoms!
LAINIE LIBERTI: Quite right. And you should care because this administration has premeditatedly waged, like never before in U.S. history, a propaganda campaign, a war and, ironically, an all-out terrorization of the American people.
SS: Aha! I knew it! Irony didn’t die after 9-11. Letterman was just a little taken aback. It’s okay. He’s back to his old goofy self now.
LAINIE LIBERTI: You should care because freedom isn’t just the foundation of this country; it’s the birthright and sustenance of every living soul.
SS: Heavy shit. You should’ve changed your name to Deepak!
LAINIE LIBERTI: In the face of a neocon initiated war and a savagely beaten constitution, the wonks wonk and we marchers march, but the travesty endures. I filed the paperwork and appeared in court. I changed my name. Not a heroic act. Maybe not even an inspirational action. But I did it. It’s mine.
As for who I am, well, Downtown LA Art Fag pretty much sums me up. I’m a conceptual artist. That is what you wanted to do, yeah? Sum me up?
SS: I’m not the one who changed my name.
LAINIE LIBERTI: That’s true. And you’re not the one who stood in the courtroom while holding a flaming torch in my left hand and a copy of Art Now tucked under my right.
SS: Art Now?
LAINIE LIBERTI: Well, I wanted 137 artists there with me to witness my liberation. Seemed fitting. Mike Kelly, Jeff Coons, Paul McCarthy, Cindy Sherman…their names will forever be synonymous with my personal transformation, in my mind.
SS: Okay, but why a name change? Why not, say, a Liberty Medallion from the Franklin Mint? Or a vanity license plate?
LAINIE LIBERTI: What’s that? What was the experience like? So glad you asked. It was actually quite easy. You fill out some paperwork. They do a background check. A few months later, you get a letter informing you when to appear before the judge. In the gallery I met a Chechnyan family and a Mexican family. Neither had torches but I didn’t rub it in their faces or anything. Then, in the courtroom, I was the seventh to be called forward. When the judge asked if there were any objections, only one person did.
SS: Somebody objected to you changing your name to Lainie Liberti?
LAINIE LIBERTI: Yeah, my son. But he wasn’t really objecting. Just being his typical silly self.
SS: But what’s really in a name? And don’t give me any of that Shakespeare crap. Last I heard he was actually three women and a cockatiel.
LAINIE LIBERTI: The name itself is of little consequence. Although, I suppose, I like the idea of raising my son with a heightened awareness of what his mother and this country are about. The act. That’s what’s important. At least to me. Proclaim, do, document – these are my reasons for being.
And being liberty! What an awesome responsibility, and yet, what an exhilarating experience! Think about it.
SS: So, okay, it’s just us here. Just you and me and the tape recorder I have already told you is tragically broken and is present only for reasons relating to my emotional security. Now, you sure you don’t want to tell me the name change was just an attempt to dodge creditors?
LAINIE LIBERTI: I’d take the Fifth except I’m not sure if we’ve still got that one.
SS: Okay. Let’s now turn to the more pivotal matter. That’s right. The spelling.
LAINIE LIBERTI: No “I” in teamwork. Mostly because now I’ve got them all. Seriously, though, I liked stripping the word down to its root. The final “I” an homage to all things Italian, from daVinci and straight on through to manicotti. Plus, there’s simply an aesthetic there I found myself responding to.
SS: Alright. This wouldn’t be a legit art interview if I didn’t let you prattle on about your early influences. Prattle away.
LL: Wow. You really are a jerk.
SS: I tried to warn you.
LAINIE LIBERTI: My influences run the gamut. Huge Miro freak, hence my son’s name. As a commercial designer and owner of a successful brand marketing firm, I have always been drawn to the conceptual. But I find inspiration everywhere – fine art, new art, non-art. I still perform and will always surround myself with those who live passionately, purposefully and, uh, hopefully not as pretentiously as I am sounding at this very moment.
SS: Artful living. Can anyone do it or do you have to be invited like old gmail?
LAINIE LIBERTI: Can’t make the change. Gotta be the change. I changed my name and became the liberty they are so ferociously and tenaciously usurping.
SS: Interesting. Now you’ve got me wondering, Would you be willing to do it again?
LL: Why again?
SS: I’ve got this space over my sofa and I am just at a total loss…