I attempt to answer this question as I have received curiosity, concern, criticism and pure confusion from bystanders of my art over the last couple of years in the making of my film Viva Trow Vegas, just a small town girl which is about to show at the Jerwood Visual Arts Project Space May 13 – August 31.
It’s a hard one to put into words because this film kept changing and developing all the time. It all started from my amusement at my home town always being called Trow Vegas by generations of locals. I have always been interested in belonging and community and I liked the irony of a dull place with a bad reputation wanting to be a twin town with somewhere as glitzy as Las Vegas. I’d been completing work about glamour and started to look at local girls and the way they dressed and styled themselves.
At first I was just going to do a funny comparison type film – I was going to interview people in the real Las Vegas and those in Trowbridge/Trow Vegas so I went to Las Vegas, Nevada! … and I did a shoot at the Neon Boneyard in which I played a disenchanted show girl. But the idea kept changing and I started to morph into a more glitzy version of myself and this kept developing something in me as I experienced how people responded and joined in so I reinvented myself as a Trow Vegas celebrity with a new name, ‘Megastar’
I was intrigued to discover how far people who didn’t know me were willing to go along with it all and I met Vicky on twitter, a 21 year old, who loved the glamour of pop princess Katy Perry and so we developed that together and we looked into a red carpet event in Trow Vegas for a film I had made (Agog: the grandmother diaries) and later entered the carnival together and we met some gym boys who agreed to act as my celebrity bodyguards. I embraced all things social media, twitter, instagram, Facebook, I built a kind of online language. The line separating Meg from Megastar got more and more blurred.
I realised that people really do buy into your confidence – it really is true, I just asked can I do ‘this or that’ I want to enter Trow Vegas carnival as the queen or I’d like to be a VIP at the Christmas lights turn on and people kept saying yes to me. I have genuine love for celebrations that go into overdrive in my art so it was interesting to see people allowing me all sorts during the two years. As time went by, I started to mirror celebrity behaviour and strategies, self promotion, and brought out a fictional perfume and life story, merchandise, clothing range and began selling myself through products – interested in branding and packaging yourself and how you can create and manipulate your ‘story’ through a strong image of your glamorous self and I then had these out on display in public and observed how people interacted with them – like on my Christmas merchandise stall.
This film is about the glamour of my era. A time when nothing needs to be private and anyone can be a diva, pop-princess or a celebrity through social media. A time of globalisation and mass media when #mylife in a small provincial town can be turned into the glamour of Las Vegas! #Amaze