Marc H Miller & Bettie Ringma
The year was 1974 and among the things looming large on my cultural landscape was the story of photographer Ron Galella being sued by Jackie Onassis; memories of Federico Fellini's film La Dolce Vita with its sequences of Italian photographers on motor scooters chasing celebrities; the rising fame of gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson; and Andy Warhol's success at fully merging himself into the world of celebrity and glamour through Interview Magazine.
The mid-1970s was a moment of change with art getting less theoretical and moving in directions that were more personal and involved with the world. "Paparazzi Self-Portraits" was my way to move in that direction by harnessing the power of art and engaging real life for my own amusement and purposes. At the simplest level, taking the pictures was an entertaining challenge that involved research, telephone calls, social and photographic skills. At first, acquaintances and willing strangers took the pictures, but soon Bettie became my full-time partner in stalking celebrity prey.
Each picture had its own logic and generated its own story. Some paid homage to personal heroes; others expanded our world. When exhibited together in art galleries, however, the pictures had the didactic quality of conceptual art, raising questions about reality, deception, art and propaganda. Who would have guessed that technological advances like the development of photoshop would soon flood the world with altered pastiches that undercut the veracity of these laboriously gathered images.