…is now live at Lambda Literary:
2011 saw the publication of several new biographies about Andy Warhol, but perhaps none with such an unusual voice as Megan Volpert’s Sonics in Warholia, from Sibling Rivalry Press. She wrote the book as a direct address to Warhol’s ghost, and took a tone with him that most people never dared to while he was alive. In this interview, Charles Jensen sits down with the author of this distinctive new book to dig into the connections between Warhol and, well, everything.
Sonics in Warholia is a fiendishly complex book, so let’s start with the wide angle establishing shot: as the title suggests, the main throughline of the book is a Hoarders-level obsession with all things Andy Warhol. What drew you to this subject, and why with such intensity?
I prefer to write in response to things, and the main criticism of my previous books is that they are not “accessible.” So I ran in the extreme direction of Andy (we are on a first name basis), because whatever you think about Warhol, you do think something. And Andy is so invested in this very notion of accessibility—that a Coke is a good subject for a screen print because whether you’re Liz Taylor or a janitor, Coke tastes the same and costs the same for everybody. Also, I have always been interested in empty signifiers, very concerned with people and objects that appear to contain multitudes. As an undergrad, I bet myself that I could use a Rubik’s Cube as a visual aid for every presentation I gave until graduation—and I did. Andy is most certainly an empty signifier; I’m hardly the first person to write about that. I should’ve said first thing that I owe a tremendous (really, tremendous) debt to Wayne Koestenbaum.