Your career as a published author really began with the publication of “Buy Yourself Back” in New York magazine. Were you surprised by the reaction of readers?
Surprised – not the word. I was shocked. Frightened to horror. I would say that the whole week before the article was published I was … not well. I think the same will happen before the book is published. I didn’t expect anyone to sympathize with me or get into my situation. I didn’t want to affect other people’s lives in any way. I asked myself questions like, “What’s wrong with me if I want to publish this essay?” As a result, the most pleasant thing was that many women had a similar experience. My essay confirmed that the truth was on their side. And also raised an important topic for me to use personal images and property rights.
You sold Christie’s NFT token at auction this year. This is a digital image of yourself standing next to another of your photographs, painted on canvas by the artist Richard Prince, whose work you bought for eighty thousand dollars. Richard Prince has also, without permission, turned a photo he posted on Instagram for Sports Illustrated magazine into himself, in which you pose naked, not counting the skillfully applied body paint. Your token was called “Redeem Yourself: Redistribution Model”. It was sold for one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars. Could you tell us more about this?
When I wrote Redeem Myself, I thought of many other Emilies who exist virtually, on posters or … That is, people make tattoos with my image. I have no control over these images, they just exist in the world and seem to float in the air. Even to think is strange. It’s like a nightmare. And when I heard about NFT tokens, I started thinking about what it would mean for a model to be able to make a profit from every sale of their images. However, profit is not the main thing. I wanted to at least partially own my own way and be able to monitor its use. I began to think that NFT tokens could help me keep Emily in control. Using Richard Prince’s painting was symbolic to me. I used to think that if you spread something, you can control it and determine how it will be accepted and used, because it belongs to you. Of course, this is not the case at all. This is especially difficult for women. For example, porn has become a huge problem. I wanted to raise the issue of property rights and discuss how we can try to maintain control over our images, over the images of our bodies, and gain a voice in this world.
Do you consider “My Body” an evil book?
I definitely have a lot of anger in me. I wrote all this, including to realize my own anger, to look him in the face. Because I haven’t done it before. I was angry, but I didn’t understand why.
When you read your book, it becomes obvious that it is very important for you that the world takes you seriously.
I wish it was different, but it’s true. Probably, in some other, parallel, life I don’t care. But I’m definitely trying to prove something. At least in part, this is due to the fact that in the past I was not taken seriously, and it upset me. I realized that this was really important to me.
This book is about your son. One day he will grow up and be able to understand her. What would you like him to take out of her?
I hope he understands. I want my boy – although, of course, it is still unknown what his gender identity will be, but biologically he exists in this world as a man – to know what it is like to be a woman. And he understood that for women, sex and beauty are inextricably linked to issues of power.
In your book, you sometimes appear to be a deeply unhappy person. Did writing it become a catharsis, did it help you feel better?
Yes, it helped me. It hurt to write this book. It was not easy and unpleasant, but it definitely gave me satisfaction.
Do you keep writing?
I’m not writing anything right now. I took a short break to dedicate myself to caring for my son. But I definitely want to start writing again. I hope that this will happen before the book is published and that its publication will inspire me. I was always going to write a lot of books. I hope so. Let’s see. I don’t know how things will turn out.