Editor – Justin Howard @Jthnomad
Once heralded as the ‘Boobs That Killed Capitalists’ in European papers, Jil Love is truly more then a pretty face. This former model turned artist activist is now pioneering a new form of demonstration, ‘ARTivism.’ When not making global headlines for its unique method of delivering – using art to communicate a cause’s message, it is being spread around the world by a new generation of activists that yearn to tell their own stories in a way that truly gets people to pause and think about what is being narrated in front of them. I caught up with Jil Love on the streets of San Francisco, where is she is now in residence, as she launched her first book “We Are the Voices of the Unheard“ a visual narrative of all her biggest installations.
The Love Revolution
Justin Howard – What is your philosophy of ‘Love’?
Jil Love – Love is a state of being. It is the force that created all of us. It created the Universe, so it is the creation force that is inside of us. For me, Love is truly endless and is a kind of inspiration, excitement. All the good vibes that keep you going and connects you to others.
Justin Howard – Why the name ‘Jil Love’?
Jil Love – Love is everything, right? It will never get too ‘old’. You know the ideal of Love. It is always relevant. I really couldn’t find a better name.
Justin Howard – So you recently published the book ‘Jil Love Revolution’. It is a collection of images gathered from your various protests. All these amazing shoots.
Jil Love – I call it ‘ARTivism’ which is Art with Activism. It is a new concept.
Justin Howard – Explain to me the concept behind ‘ARTivism’.
Jil Love – Well, the new activists use art to be more present and to draw more attention from the public. So you have to be creative on how you display your message, how you send your message across. You only have this much time to make a point. In my images, you can use a thousand words but you never can explain how deep the message is in each image. When you see an image you understand the whole picture.
Justin Howard – Well, you as an ‘ARTivist’ an artist activist, you have done a variety of protest installations. One of the most visually striking is when you were dressed up as ‘Dia de los Muertos’ skeleton for the demonstration in protest of the 43 missing Mexican students, just in March of last year. Tell me what was the vision behind it, because that is such a powerful image. Literally you are dressed up as a dead woman…
Jil Love – I wasn’t ‘dressed up’. I was body painted with the names of 43 missing students on my body. My body was painted white, with the names of the students in black covering me. I had blood on my body to symbolize wounds. It was on my birthday in 2015. We went to the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles. I called my friends, I always create an event. I always make sure to get many photographers and supporters to be there for me. I had this big Mexican flag someone had bought for me for a hundred dollars.
I just cut it, I turned it into 43 pieces for the 43 missing students. Then I burned the flag, then I had some water passed over, I was using the water to wash the flag of the blood. I was using what I had, the elements around me to create a dramatic scene. I was crying, and screaming. Screaming, yelling for justice. I make a big, big scene you know.
Justin Howard – What inspired you to do that particular issue?
Jil Love – My concept of revolution, the ‘Jil Love Revolution’, is provide a voice for the unheard. So these Mexican students, they were protesting against the government – the Mexican Government – they were silenced… Forever. That is my job, to provide the voice for them.
Justin Howard – As an artist activist, you create a big public platform for these unheard voices. How do you go about doing that? What is the process to create one of these installations?
Jil Love – First I have to be inspired. There are many issues that I could develop. Many, many injustices in the world. But I am not God, so I can’t do everything, so I have to be very selective of what I am doing and what kind of resources I have. I ask myself what can I do to send out the message. Sometimes it just comes in the middle of the day and I say “Oh My God! The 43 missing students!” or “Keystone XL” pipeline.
Justin Howard – Let’s talk about that… You literally were painted black from head to toe, in the center of Hollywood, the iconic tourist spot of Hollywood and Highland. You did part of it in front of the stairs leading up to the Kodak Theater where the Oscars are every year. You are laying down in puddles of a black substance surrounded by big smelly dead fish… What inspired that installation?
Jil Love – We have this big controversy, they were going to vote in the congress to create this pipeline. The dangers and the risks are too high. Everybody in the country, in the US, were doing that they could to raise their voices against this. So I thought I will just go to Hollywood Blvd and many people there, they don’t know what is going on. They are going to try to pass this bill on this pipeline, so I am just going to raise awareness on it and create a big scene. People needed to know what can happen, that they could just die from this. Not only the fish and the animals, but WE can die covered completely from an oil spill.
Justin Howard – Why did you choice that iconic location?
Jil Love – Honestly? I used to live right behind the Chinese theater. So that was like my office. I did many of my ARTivisms on the Hollywood walk of fame because we have many people come there from all over the world. Mostly just for superficialities like these stupid stars on the ground. But I just want them to see, to see what is really important, what is really going on.
Justin Howard – You wanted them to go from Kim Kardashian to realize they could die from this pipeline.
Jil Love – Exactly! People are like so asleep in this dream. In Lalaland. You know Hollywood and stuff. They aren’t really aware of what is going on behind. So I just go and show them. It is my job to expose them.
Justin Howard – In all of your demonstrations, what I love about them is that you are basically naked. You use your body as a billboard in a sense to send your message. Most people would be too afraid to walk out in public naked.
Jil Love – But not in Spain. I am from Spain. We don’t have any issues with nudity like you guys do in the US. For us it is something normal.
Justin Howard – Where does your confidence come from to stand out in front of people, bare chested, delivering your message?
Jil Love – I am exposing my soul. My vulnerability which is my strength. That is what really connects me to others. For me clothing is just layers that separates you from the rest. When you expose yourself like that, totally vulnerable, you connect more to people. They can feel you. They can sense you. They can understand you better.
Justin Howard – People when they look at you, would say you are very beautiful. A very beautiful woman. Do you think that helps deliver your message or distracts from it?
Jil Love – I don’t think about those things. I do my job, I go to the streets, I expose myself and my messages. Whatever you think is your problems, your business. I just wrap up and go back home. I don’t think about those things.
Justin Howard – Why do you do ‘Artivism’?
Jil Love – Someone has to do it. When I was looking into history, I always thought why didn’t anyone do anything about that? Then I realized that I could have done it. I wasn’t living in the past, I am living in the present moment. I do the best I can to do my share. To pay my rent to planet Earth. It is my responsibility as a human being to help humanity in a way.
Justin Howard – Let’s talk about ISIS. What is ISIS to you?
Jil Love – Isis is the sacred Mother Goddess. You know I lost my mom, I feel safe when I am visually Isis with the big wings embracing me. Isis, is the mother goddess we need. We deseparately need in this society which is so patriarch. In this society, look what is going on all over the world. Wars, destruction, global warming. It is time for the Goddess to be more present then ever. She has been hidden, she has been represented, now She is coming back through the forms of many of us. We all embrace the energy of Her Spirit, the Goddess.
Justin Howard – There is a recurring image in your work, you like to use these big white wings. I just saw an image of you wearing them when you went to feed the homeless…
Jil Love – Those are the Angel wings. I think of myself as an Angel in human form. People love Angels. When you go to feed to the homeless, I believe it is the best way to be received and welcomed because they just love it. They want you to hug them and to kiss them ‘Oh an Angel!’ They just love it. I always have the angel necklace. Especially in my first ‘ARTivism’ it was a big one. It is in some of my most famous images. I am wearing that necklace of the winged Isis.
Justin Howard – If there was one take away that people got from seeing a Jil Love installation or from the book, what would that be?
Jil Love – That I am them, and they are me. We are all connected and we are all the same. That is what I am realizing as I am getting wiser, never older. We never get older, we get wiser. I realize we are all connected and all these separations, barriers, layers are just an illusion, are just fear. Love connects us. I see myself reflected in you, in the Palestinians, the Native Americans, Mexicans, I just see myself in them.
Justin Howard – What is in the future for you?
Jil Love – I am planning with a group of friends a festival, The Love Revolution, to celebrate ‘ARTivism’ awards. I want to create this festival, to appreciate and recognize, the work of these new talents, these activists that are using art and creativity to raise awareness, to spread their consciousness, and to send their messages out. To help humanity in a creative way. I don’t think there is anything like that out there so I want to be the first one.
Justin Howard – Where can people get the book“We Are the Voices of the Unheard”?
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