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Interior Semiotics is a video depicting an art student’s performance, in which she opens a can of expired Spaghetti-Os, rubs them on her shirt, and proceeds to finger herself while urinating in a can. The video also depicts a large number of stereotypically hipster-looking audience members and their enthusiastic response to the performance. Consequently, the video became popular for exemplifying the ridiculousness of hipster culture and for personifying the stereotypes of the culturally-imagined hipster phenomenon of the late 2000s and early 2010s.
The original performance took place on March 27th, 2010 at an apartment gallery event, FOREVER(21), in West Town, Chicago. The event was organized by members of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Multicultural Student Association. Featuring works by several artists, the main fixture of the night was a performance by Natacha Stolz entitled “Interior Semiotics.” A video of the performance was uploaded to YouTube on May 8th, 2010.
The video begins with Stolz attempting to open a can of expired Spaghetti-Os with a manual can opener. It takes her two minutes to do so because she has trouble using the can opener. Once it is open, she pours the Spaghetti-Os, which she pre-mixed with dirt, into a pot and adds water, then recites a nihilistic-sounding poem:
“Everything is shit. We apply meaning, value, and worth to the shit surrounding us. We live by this meaning and by our words. We live by worth and apply value, but everything is shit.”
Afterwards, she repeats the poem backwards, in monosyllabic form, while rubbing the Spaghetti-O and mud mixture onto her shirt. Stolz then cuts open her denim leggings, putting her Spaghetti-O-covered fingers into her vagina and expelling vaginal discharge.
As the camera turns away towards the audience, Stolz releases the Spaghetti-O mixture from her vagina, into the empty can of Spaghetti-Os on a platform. Finally, the camera turns towards her once more. She takes off her shirt with soiled hands, wipes up the mess, and exits the room. The audience subsequently cheer and applaud, with shouts of “We love you!” and the infamous “Yeah, ART!”
During the week of August 1st, 2010, the video was shared on 4chan. The performance elicited extreme responses, from general threats of violence against “hipsters” to specific threats against Stolz herself. That week, “Interior Semiotics” accumulated over 200,000 views in only 48 hours. By the second week of August 2010, the view count had reached nearly 350,000 views.
As the video spread, Stolz’s personal information was leaked, including her Facebook account, phone number, home address, university, and personal website. Several 4chan users added her on Facebook and leaked dozens of her personal photos. Soon after, the video description was changed, replacing Stolz’s real name with the pseudonym Gabbi Colette. Stolz created a Facebook under this pseudonym to attract people who sought her out online, often trolling or interacting with them.
Stolz received recognition from her peers in the art community. In November 2010, Stolz was interviewed by the new media art organization Rhizome, who also interviewed author Cole Stryker about the cultural implications of “Interior Semiotics.” Stryker wrote about the performance and its viral reaction in his 2011 book Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4chan’s Army Conquered the Web.
The performance was the subject of a lengthy essay by art critic Domenico Quaranta in ARTPULSE magazine, and was also the subject of articles in ArtSlant, The Globe and Mail, and MinnesotaPlaylist magazine.
As of February 2015, the video of the performance has over 2,168,000 views on YouTube.
Due to the controversial content of the video, several users have uploaded reaction videos:
Search for both “Interior Semiotics” and both names Stolz went by peaked in August 2010 but have been declining since.
I Am Bored – “Interior Semiotics: Dumb Hipsters And Their ‘Art’” / 8-6-2010
Hipster Runoff – “Totally Alt Performance Artist squirts Spaghettios out of her vagina” / 8-5-2010
Stryker Cole – Epic Win for Anonymous: How 4chan’s Army Conquered the Web / Overlook Books, published 2011