1814: Your experiences from childhood, from your grandparents publishing
backgrounds, your mother's career as painter, the parade of celebrated creatives such
as Andy vVarhol, Allen Ginsburg, and Shel Silverstein, all seem to have prepared you
to be an artist. What advice would you give to a more timid personality that wants to
MP: I think if you are timid you can create your own reality or an alter ego. It's always
seemed to me that mankind is a bunch of people playing make believe anyhow. So one
can always just admit to the masquerade and kind of own it and create whatever one
wants. I personally like being kind oflow key but I think I have a personality that I'm
now just very aware of. I sometimes catch it if I hear in a recording or on TV and I'm
like , "I sound like that"? It's all kind of backwards. But really I sort of live in a comedy
in my head ... a dark comedy of course.
I remember when I was about fourteen years old I would get really uncomfortable with
awkward silences. So I decided intentionally to create awkward phone silences and
explore this and became friends with a guy who had nothing to say on the phone so I
could "out silence" him. \Ve would sit on the phone in silence ... it was something that
used to make me uncomfortable but after months of not speaking with friend on the
phone I became used to it. So I think it's about finding your weaknesses and playing
with them, getting comfortable and exploring them in your art, in your life or just
finding a place where it makes you smirk.
1814: Can you tell me about the days in Los Angeles after your first exhibition of High
Fashion Crime Scenes and about the notoriety that came with the success of your show?
How did the response to your work impact you as an artist?
MP: I was kind of in a daze because I didn't take a break for ten years. I would work
these eighteen hour days and enjoy every second but it leaves you in a daze and time
disappears. So I would finish a show and jump on a plane to Korea to do another
show, and then to Italy and then Japan, China etc ... I love the adrenaline. The weird
thing about High Fashion Crime Scenes was how well it was received when I was doing
shows on my own and in a basement and then I got signed by a big gallery and
suddenly critics were a little more intense. There's an adjustment period but it's just
time and it all settles in. The great thing about art is that you always seem to get better
in someway or are always learning something new.
1814: Can you tell us about the process for selecting the crimes scenes you chose to
recreate in High Fashion Crime Scenes?
MP: I worked for several years with the NYPD, LAPD, and the LA County Coroner's
office to find crime scene photos between 1912 and 1950. I went through thousands of
these crime scene photos, generally anonymous scenes and narrowed it down to about
100 photos to recreate and reenact. From there I went to fashion houses and pulled
clothes that I thought gave a sort of identity to the victims and would tell a story. At
that time I kind of treated each shot like a movie enlisting the help of up to 100 people
per shoot. vV e would light each scene like a movie set and I used traditional hot lights
used in film. I worked with the stunt team from CSI to help me with hanging the
models, and with shark divers for the underwater scenes. Also to accurately color the
skin and create proper death wounds I worked with a makeup team that was
wonderful. In the end I had to work with commercial factories to print my images on
photo paper at such a large size ... the largest of the images are some of the largest
photos in the world on Kodak paper. The idea is you look at the images and they feel