Lucas Samaras
[Artist, b. 1936, Kastoria, Greece, lives in New York.]

 You don’t have to say that nature is aware of your existence, that God knows you are here and you are suffering or having joy. The camera gives you proof that you have lived at least once. 
 I was my own Peeping Tom. Because of the absence of people I could do anything, and if it wasn’t good I could destroy it without damaging myself in the presence of others. In that sense I was my own clay. I formulated myself, I mated with myself, and I gave birth to myself. And my real self was the product—the polaroids. 
 The selfie era offers a big opening: everybody can do it; nowadays even five-year-olds know how to take a nude self-portrait. 
 If an artist does not have an erotic involvement with everything that he sees, he may as well give up. To be a human being may a very messy thing, but to be an artist is something else entirely, because art is religion, art is sex, art is society. Art is everything. 
 At any rate, when I began photographing myself, I could place myself in poses that had not been investigated by other artists. It was an area other artists hadn't touched. Then, I went on from there. I manipulated my image—distorting it, brutalizing it. People thought I was mad, but I felt I had to tell these things. It gave me a kind of excitement. 
 Photography is the best way to depict the idea that you existed. You don’t have to say that nature is aware of your existence, that God knows you are here. The camera gives you proof that you have lived at least once. 
 ...I started photographing myself, and found that I could see portions of myself that I had never seen before. Since I face just my face in the mirror, I know pretty much what it’s like. When I see a side-view I’m not used to it, and find it peculiar... So, photographing myself and discovering unknown territories of my surface self causes an interesting psychological confrontation. 
 I am my own investigation territory. 
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