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Revealed: The Source of ‘True Detective’s Creepy Naked Milk-Lady

Revealed: The Source of 'True Detective's Creepy Naked Milk-Lady

Remember that bizarre shot of a naked woman floating in what looked like a bowl of milk on “True Detective’s” season 2 premiere, “The Western Book of the Dead”? It turns out that’s a real piece of art by Peter Sarkisian, entitled “White Water.” (Materials: Metal bowl, high density plaster, tinted polymer resin, video projection, audio.) Here’s what it looks like:

In the comments on his Vimeo page, Sarkisian says that “White Water” is “actually very serene and gentle,” but that that the show’s use “places it in a rather carnal environment, which has caused some viewers to misinterpret it as creepy.” He also explains how it ended up on “True Detective” in the first place.

My understanding is that Justin Lin specifically referenced the piece in the script. I agreed to loan them the work only if HBO broke protocol and agreed to give my artwork screen credit, which up until this episode was not their policy. My position was that visual artists should be credited for featured works in the same manner that musicians and writers are credited. Ultimately, HBO was sympathetic and agreed to amending their policy. I’m proud to have played a role in setting this new legal precedent, and hope that other studios follow HBO’s lead. Well done HBO!

(Note: HBO clarifies that Sarkisian’s artwork was included in Nic Pizzolatto’s script. Justin Lin directed the episode. Also, this is, technically speaking, not a legal precedent, but one of contract negotiation. Still, good on Sarkisian for insisting on credit.)

Further thoughts on the use of Sarkisian’s artwork — “It’s less icky than having an actual, un-refrigerated bowl of milk laying around, but the thought of this hanging out on a coffee table still creeps me out” — as well as the other tchotchkes in the late Mr. Caspere’s sex palace, via Artficity here.

And here’s what it looked like on the air.

Creepy? Not at all.

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