Lady Gaga: 'I'm Not Saying Vomit's Going to Change the World'

Barbara Boland
By Barbara Boland | March 19, 2014 | 2:15 PM EDT

Lady Gaga wants us to believe vomit is art - "I'm not saying vomit's going to change the world" she said during her South by Southwest keynote address Friday. Her "Artpop" performance was sponsored by Doritos, and she spent most of the speech saying that corporate sponsorship does not degrade her "art."

During her Artpop performance the day before, Lady Gaga collaborated with Millie Brown, the infamous British vomit-artist that vomits up colored milk.

Clad in a plastic tarp princess dress with faux dreadlocks festooned on her head, she told John Norris: "It was just exciting seeing people talking about performance art on the Internet and debating about whether it's art or not. We really just did it because we believe in the performance and we believe in what it meant to the song ['Swine']."

From Rolling Stone:

Throughout her speech, she punctuated some of her points with the phrase "artpop" ... But she returned to the idea of making art and being a creator several times throughout the hour-long discussion. Her performance the previous night, in which British performance artist Millie Brown vomited a Technicolor palate of colors on her and humped her onstage, was art, she said, and therefore worth it.

Regarding her collaboration with British vomit-artist Millie Brown, Gaga said, "I am so deeply passionate about any person that has an artistic spirit, any person that has a talent that they believe in no matter how crazy the idea is. You never know where that crazy idea might lead you."

She went on to compare vomit art to the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Any Warhol:

"Martin Luther King thought he could start a revolution without violence. And Andy Warhol thought he could make a soup can into art. Sometimes things that are really, really strange, and feel really wrong, can really change the world.

"I'm not saying vomit's going to change the world, but what I'm saying is it's the idea, of a moment where it's truly just what we want to create and do, and us just respecting each other as artists was enough for the performance to be worth it - Artpop."

Lady Gaga was at turns passionate and defensive, and much of her speech came off as an apologia for corporate sponsorship and for lackluster sales of her album "Artpop."

"You have this completely passionate experience with music or whatever you're creating, whether it's a film or a television series, maybe you write poetry or you put on a play. I make music; the second I put it out into the world it gets eaten by a computer and gets assigned all these numbers and rankings, and it's terrifying. But I think what we have to remember is that the way we talk about that process is really what the problem is. Placing the importance on those charts ... what happens is you start trying to influence the artists or to influence the industry to approach their work ... towards being successful within that system. When you do that, you take the power out of the hands of the artist and you put it in the hands of the corporations.

"But I don't want that to be dictating what music I'm listening to. I don't think any of us want that to be dictating what we're listening to," she added.

"I'm sorry I didn't sell a million records the first week. I have before. I've sold 27 million albums. I'm very proud of what we did. I've sold as much as everybody else sells. I'm held to such an insane standard; it's almost like everybody forgets where the music business is now," she said.

Her album "Artpop" has sold two and a half million copies worldwide - a commercial disappointment. But it's "art," so no one should be focusing on sales numbers.