Virginie Sommet, Artist and Writer

Photo: Jake Chessum

What kind of sculpture do you do?
It’s mixed-media contemporary-art installations. My work’s about objects that are symbols of minority. Most of the time I find an object with symbols—it can be black, it can be lesbian, it can be drug addict, any kind of minority. I study it, then I do a big installation with the same object that I buy in big numbers.

What kind of object do you mean?
Well, once I found a cock ring. I asked the question, “What is a cock ring?” to 2,000 gay people and nobody didn’t know about it, so I did a piece with 200 cock rings called The Gay Life. I have also a majority series about the 99-cent store.

Are you a minority?
I’m 100 percent French. Kind of boring, but I am a minority as a European in New York.

What’s your style?
It’s very instinctive. I wake up, I have the desire to be red, and—boom!—I am all red. Or yellow. Or green. And always with antique clothes because I don’t like new clothes—I think they have no soul. And they have no shape, unfortunately.

Do you always wear a bindi?
Every day for twenty years. I have 600, something like that. I have never been to India, can you believe it? But you know, you can see me in Chinese outfits, sometimes, also.

Where do you live?
Chinatown, because I love to be where I’m not supposed to be. I don’t like to be around people who look like me—it’s boring. It’s more challenging when you don’t understand the food, the language, the rituals. Your brain has to work a little more.

Virginie Sommet, Artist and Writer