Lindsay Lohan Becomes an “Art Star” in 90 Seconds

There are plenty of people who would argue that Lindsay Lohan‘s public image as the twenty-first century’s definition of a young female fuckup precludes her ability to succeed as part of a real ‘artistic’ production. But that’s exactly what Richard Phillips, pop art painter turned filmmaker, is banking on. His ninety-second short film and/or commercial, “Lindsay Lohan,” is part of a tradition of work that focuses on celebrities of all types, and has “a certain fixation on the power of media gods and goddesses to distract us from the people they really are.”

The film is part of an event called “Commercial Break,” a program of 80 videos presented by the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture. It’s aptly named; “Lindsay Lohan” can be thought of as “a 90-second ad for her more sober self.”It makes sense that someone whose work has always revolved around celebrity – Phillips’ last major exhibition was “outsize portraits of famous faces belonging to Leonardo DiCaprio, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Dakota Fanning and the like” – would be interested in Lohan. But what is it that he’s interested in, her talent or her reputation?

While his resume would indicate the latter, he says it’s more about the former:

This time out, he wanted to get beyond a public image widely exploited, or ridiculed, in the media, and past the celebrity endorsements and luxury-goods sponsorships that, he says, are what herald serious art projects today.

So what is there once you get beyond the public image? Well, Lohan alternates between shots in a somber black turtleneck, and a skimpy white bikini – references to her sober and less sober selves, or perhaps her public image and real self.

In “Lindsay Lohan,” the beleaguered beauty is captured mostly in close-up, and in attitudes that Phillips appropriated from two 1960s movie classics, Jean-Luc Godard’s “Contempt” and Ingmar Bergman’s “Persona,” starring Brigitte Bardot and Liv Ullmann, respectively. The skimpily clad Lohan stands in for each, appearing anguished, introspective, seductive, sleepy, hurt, querulous, innocent and always alone.

Is this really a “brief psychological portrait of Lohan [which] attempts to unite the irreconcilable differences in her divided personality?” Does it actually mean anything, coming from a director who says upfront he’s “never made a film, not even on an iPhone?” Why are we still talking about a starlet who’s appeared more often in the tabloids than onscreen for years, and whom most reputable media outlets have lost interest in except for stories about drug abuse or embarrassing tweets?

Maybe just because in her first serious piece of work in years, Lindsay Lohan, one of our only out queer female celebrities and someone who seems committed to honesty about drug addiction and how hard recovering from it is, doesn’t even have any lines.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Senior Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

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34 Comments

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    Incredibly interesting, in my opinion. I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of the audience using our idea of a celebrity, instead of the celebrity themselves. How that celebrity becomes a commodity and a product.

    Pop art’s pretty sweet. =3

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    I really like the cinematography–the way the light bounces back, everything is sharp and bright. I must say, though, Lilo looks a little aged, not as in old, just aged. I’m crossing my fingers for her comeback. <3

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    “She’s a combination of the fantastic and the real, which is what makes her so magnetic. She can also bring forward an existential presence that speaks to the isolated self”

    I want to support the arts. Honestly, I do. But whenever I see modern art (or worse, hear people talk about it), all I can really think is “…oh, for fuck’s sake.”

    I bet all the other perfume commercial directors are pissed they didn’t think of displaying their work in museums first.

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      I, too, dislike the manner in which modern art is described. It’s full of ridiculousness and seems like it’s only written so fancily to intimidate ruffians and keep them from attempting to appreciate the art.

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        They’re just trying to confuse us so we don’t ask them why Lindsay Lohan is the only person apparently qualified to bring forward an “existential presence.”
        Excuse me, but I do believe my presence exists… LOOK AT ME EXISTING.
        Do I get a film made about me?

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          My mom’s digital camera takes video, but it’s really old so the image is kinda pixillated and it just randomly cuts off filming every minute or so. I’ll take some footage of you eating cereal or something, then tell everyone the choppy-ness (shut up, that’s a perfectly cromulent word) is a comment on the fragmented nature of postmodern existence, where your momentary presence can transition into absence and then back again through the intervention of the omnipresent technology we’re so dependent upon to make up our sense of selves.

          Then we’ll sell it to a gallery and make millions.

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        It’s only done like that because the Powers That Be won’t give us grants/good grades/recognition without it. “Because it seemed like fun” isn’t a good reason to do anything, apparently.

        – frustrated ex-Creative Industries student/current performance artist

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    I love Lindsay an awful lot but that video portrait is just rubbish.

    Wish she could’ve been one of Warhol’s Screen Tests if I’m honest. That would do her far more justice than this silly, overly glossy, perfume ad rip-off.

    Still <3 her though.

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    I don’t really have an opinion on the video itself.
    I can’t seem to read that line about modern art without thinking of that one classroom scene with Bette and her art students. I feel like the girl who sat behind Nadia and would have liked to smack the shit out of her for being so obnoxious.

    Point aside, Lindsay looks like she just needs someone to authentically love her.

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    I hope that things like this movie are always heart felt and genuine. But I’m a damn good actress. I don’t even have to have lines. That being said I don’t know if this is real. I don’t know if she is just a fucked up kid and therefore is fucking up her life. But if that is the case, my heart goes out to her. I hope she finds love and serenity in other places than where she has turned to lately. I hope life, a healthy life becomes more appealing and drives her forward towards success. Unfortunately the fame game allows very few real comforts. You have to make it a choice to mold it to your benefit instead of it molding you to grease the money wheels. You have to have a good support system and stand up for yourself. I hope she is able to acquire these. Good luck to her. She seems to have a beautiful soul underneath it all. And the film was ok. It was just a bit self indulgent and obvious for me.

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    lindsay lohan is interesting.
    this little clip was very interesting.
    it would be really awesome to see some films coming up with more…
    “introspection” and a little less explosions.
    very cool.

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