India Salvör Menuez
Artist in New York City
Illustration by William Godwin
August 01 2016
India Salvör Menuez graces the cover of Supreme Love‚ thanks in no small part to her human beauty and heaps of young art world cred. She’s something of a synthesis of other women for the ages‚ too: New York pedigree‚ intensely of-her-generation‚ and possessed of the finesse to move between worlds with aplomb. She represents a boundless‚ naturally omnivorous wave of the future. We spoke with India a few days after shooting Mary Jane in a pristine Frank Lloyd Wright house in bucolic Pleasantville‚ New York.
We just watched you dance in your living room for 7 minutes. At the heart of it all‚ would you consider yourself a performance artist?
At this stage‚ certainly. And so lovely to hear you did‚ I am always curious who actually watches the little dance clips I sporadically put out into the world…
There’s something Cindy Shermanesque about you—the boundless shapeshifter. Except you actually assume the roles you portray. Filmmaker slash artist slash… If you had to focus your energy in just one place‚ where would it be and why?
She is definitely an artist I look up to; not just for her work but for her attitude. I never planned on acting‚ but once I started I was to-tally enamored with it as a way to go beyond oneself. When playing in a role‚ it can feel like a new universe of possibilities are opened up. I have always been a person who learns by doing‚ so trying many different things feels essential to my growth as an artist.
But‚ if I really had to pin it down‚ I would want to be a filmmaker‚ because everything else can exist within film.
How did the shoot with Amber in the Frank Lloyd Wright house go?
It was a lovely‚ quiet day of following the sunlight around.
You get a lot of questions about your name. India. Salvör. Menuez. You could almost be from anywhere and in that way are so emblematic of the present. What are your family roots?
My mother is from Iceland‚ so that is where Salvör comes from‚ it was the first name of my great-great-grandmother who raised my grandmother and was in general a bad-ass; her husband owned a small chocolate factory‚ which I only found out recently!
Menuez is from the Basque country but my father grew up in NYC and the Menuez’ had been a bridge building family in Ohio for a handful of generations before. So‚ pretty American.
India‚ well‚ they just liked the name.
Where did you grow up?
More or less‚ I grew up going back and forth between Park Slope‚ Brooklyn and Chinatown‚ Manhattan.
You’ve gotten a lot of positive attention for both your music work as YOUWHO and work on films like Girl Props. Any new projects on the horizon in those realms?
It will still be new to me until we finish the film and people are watching it. In the meantime‚
I am continuing a performance series I curate called BOOKLUB. I am going to Iceland to document the dance collective BABY SKIN; and I look forward for White Girl to come out… Among‚ of course‚ many other things! This coming weekend I will be doing two very different performances.
In fashion‚ is there anyone you consistently look to for inspiration?
My little sister.
And then I also love a handful of the younger local brands within my community:
Eckhaus Latta‚ Moses Gauntlett Cheng‚ Vejas‚ Vaquera… I think they are really making art.
You get to choose the U.S. President next year. Who would it be?
Tell us something the internets don’t know about you.
I’m a pretty good cook.