The author interviewing Marilyn Minter and Xaviera Simmons at Minter’s studio in Midtown Manhattan (photo by Gisele Rigatao for Hyperallergic)

A few weeks after this year’s US presidential election, I arrived at artist Marilyn Minter’s Manhattan studio to speak with her and fellow artist Xaviera Simmons. Both artists had solo shows up in New York this month (Minter’s Pretty/Dirty continues at the Brooklyn Museum until April 2, 2017, and Xaviera Simmons’s exhibition at Half Gallery, Local, recently closed) and they wanted to discuss the places where their work overlaps, their views of sexuality in art, the current state of US democracy, and other things that were on their minds.

Here are some choice quotes from our conversation:

Minter and Simmons (photo Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

  • “Sex is the most powerful instinct in the universe.”
  • “Sometimes I say I make pictures of things that don’t exist but everyone knows they’re there.”
  • “I think the internet has blasted sexuality wide open.”
  • “I think we’re at the beginning of a new civil rights movement.”
  • “I believe in beauty … but I’ve been politically engaged.”
  • “I think repression creates distortion and that’s what we just saw, this big distortion.”
  • “Something that’s important to me … those artists who are working with me are being paid really well.”
  • “The most positive thing I’ve heard in a while: helping people take risks.”
  • “I’d like women collectors to step the fuck up.”

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Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.