Molly Soda: Hello?
Cecilia Salama: Hiiiii
MS: Hey! Finally! LOL
CS: Yessss it works
MS: How are you?
CS: I’m good I’m watching the L Word and eating a taco :-) how are you
MS: I’m good! I’m making stew and watching Friday Night Lights LOL. Do you want me to take screenshots?
CS: I can do it no worries
MS: kewl ~
Should we get started?
CS: Yes plz
CS: What do you want 2 ask ?
MS: So this is sort of a compound question. I’ve been thinking about your work and relating it back to my work (in some ways) and it’s interesting that we both make work “about” the Internet but the way you get that across is actually drastically different - what makes you want to make physical pieces as opposed to rendering something digitally? Adding onto that - do you think everyone making art right now is making work about the Internet in a sense? Like, should we even tell people it’s about online…
CS: I think that there is a big part of me that is still rooted in like expressionism in some ways and that being physical (for me) is necessary to get across big emotions that I have about the internet or like contemporary digital life like loneliness, romance, desire. I kind of love the ability to go back and forth between the physical and digital, and most of my pieces are human scale I guess because I feel that sometimes being so tied to the internet we aren’t relating enough to our bodies, or that we are seeing them through some different lens.
MS: totally - our bodies become completely warped online.
CS: I think if you aren’t taking the internet into account in your work in some way right now I’d be interested in seeing how the artist manages to make it feel relatable, not in a bad way I think it would be a good challenge.
MS: yeah.. i guess i’m trying to think of someone who is blatantly like… shying away from that. but it’s interesting to me that you make things that are actually so hard to “share”.. like it’s very much about being in the physical space.
CS: Haha it’s true, I like people to be able to see and touch my work in a physical space.
MS: you want people to touch your sculptures? is it encouraged?
MS: that’s amazing - i wish i had known that when i saw “partner work”
CS: Aw yeah thank you for seeing it !
MS: it’s funny that you mentioned romance because i do really see your work as extremely romantic - but sort of like… the romance we project onto things maybe.
CS: Oh totally I’m all about projecting. And desires that aren’t exactly real. Fantasy crushes.
MS: yes!!! that rly gets accelerated online.
CS: The internet definitely makes that easier.
MS: you can sort of just “pick someone out from the crowd” and go wild.
CS: Yes !! I’ve watched youtube videos of gymnasts and based like an entire series of work on them just because they gave me butterflies in my stomach.
MS: i was reading about that - i made my desktop background butterflies just for this interview .
CS: omg !Will you send me a pic?
MS: yes! hold on
I’m a big fan of the watermark.. too
CS: Ahhhh I love it
Watermarks are interesting you think that they would stop someone but they just become a great addition to a weird photo
MS: exactly! …that’s sort of an angle to explore/that should be explored by someone
would you say youtube is a big source of content for you?
do you pull a lot from it
CS: I think more and more yes, I love thinking about who decided to upload their video and why
And how content that was uploaded for one purpose can be super manipulated (by me) for something else
I pulled Grand Theft Auto footage from Youtube for the videos in Partner Work
MS: GTA is vastly different from a gymnast.. what drew you to that specifically?
CS: I thought it was crazy that people had built a Mod just to be able to shoot whales out of guns/ canons
Like why would you even think about that and what does it say about the whole sector of humans that play this game
MS: haha totally! did you end up looking into it more? are there other animal “shooting” videos?
CS: There are so many
MS: that’s terrifying
CS: With cows and puppies and sharks
MS: what was it about whales specifically that drew you in?
CS: At first I thought about the trainers as similar to the gymnasts I had been researching
But then I thought a lot about the relationship between trainer and whale
How toxic it was, although from reading interviews and watching films about them there was definitely this sort of love there
This image of Dawn Brancheau (the trainer that was killed by Tilikum in that documentary Blackfish) riding on Tilikum with a huge grin really stuck out for me and I have used it a lot in that series of work
But it also made me reach out to other people on Facebook and ask about their toxic relationships
MS: just straight up? people you know?
CS: Yeah, people just dm’ed me their stories
It was cool to get some perspectives other than my own (although I have a lot of stories ha)
MS: how did you go about collecting it? did you approach people individually or make a post?
CS: [insert screenshot]
MS: do you do anything with that information? does it make its way into your work?
CS: I think it did, I ended up writing a short piece (not including anyone’s specific details) but with everyone’s trauma in mind
Which then ended up being recited in videos / scrawled over the physical sculptures in pencil
MS: why pencil? as opposed to something more permanent?
CS: I think it was partially going back to the days when I was just beginning to form ideas of sexuality, I also started a figure drawing class and that was my medium of choice.
MS: started a figure drawing class when you made the work?
CS: When I was around 13 I decided to take a figure drawing class
And that was kind of the only exposure I’ve had to real drawing
So when I decided I wanted to write and scribble on these pieces, I think that is what I turned to
MS: are you interested in working with drawing/figure drawing in the future? was it a one-off?
CS: I think I definitely want to incorporate more drawing and more of the figure in my new work
MS: i want to ask you what you’re working on right now but i also want to circle back to you mentioning being 13
CS: I haven’t exactly figured it out completely yet but I just made this moodboard image with a selfie of an internet friend in the shower against a giant airplane, not sure where that’s gonna take me haha
MS: i love that
CS: But I have this 2-person show in Chicago in September that I’m working towards, trying to figure that out right now
What would you like to know about me @13 ♥
MS: wow i have so many questions but first let’s start with
i see a lot of motifs in your work - gymnastics, butterflies, whales… i remember free willy being huge when i was younger EVEN GTA that all seem to hark back to a younger vibe?
is that intentional?
do you pull a lot from that age?
CS: Haha it’s interesting because I’ve never exactly put it together
But I think there is a certain naiveté derived from fantasy esp. internet fantasies
MS: like we’re all just tweens?
I am a big dreamer
But I think also that the way that cuteness is commercialized is kind of dark
Like there’s always this dark element to the younger vibe because it can be so easily manipulated
Like I could be jerking off to these tween gymnasts or the way we treat whales in captivity
MS: so you think the darkness is of a sexual nature?
CS: It can be
MS: i guess it can really be a lot of things
that’s the deal with the internet - everyone’s subject to interpretation for better or worse
It’s very easy to lose control
MS: how often would you say you lose control?
CS: Hmmm good q
MS: whether that’s control of your own self/work or control of what you’re projecting onto/how you’re consuming what you see
do you do things to regain it? do you notice when it’s happening? a lot of the times i can’t fully tell when i’m in a digital spiral
CS: I’d say I ‘d think I’d do it as little as possible if I could
It’s definitely hard for me, I think the way I regain it is by not talking to anyone for a while haha
MS: do you like spending a lot of time alone? does it count as being alone if you’re online?
i think i use the internet as a crutch or a way to not see people sometimes
CS: Oh definitely like if I can see an opening or party online it gives me a reason not to go if I’m having crazy anxiety
I love being alone but I guess I’m never fully alone if I’m texting or posting
MS: does that make you more anxious? seeing people out online?
does anxiety play a role in your work?
CS: Anxiety is something I think is actually lessened when I’m making work
I think I’m way more anxious when I take a break from art. Do you have that?
MS: yes but i have a lot of anxiety when i’m not being “productive” so sometimes i can’t tell/it becomes blurry
CS: Yeah totally
MS: to draw back to what we were talking about earlier - and i think a nice way to wrap this chat up
you briefly mentioned the selfie in front of the airplane..
are airplanes a new theme?
CS: I’ve been thinking a lot about physical distance and also immigration so they might come into play soon :) we shall see
They are also just kind of sexy
i guess they sort of are - there’s definitely a lot of sexy things associated with planes
britney spears toxic video alone…
CS: Omg yes
CS: I like the idea of being forced to be around strangers in a closed space for a period of time
We all kind of have to be on our best behavior
MS: there’s literally no escaping
a lot of times people aren’t on their best behavior!
it’s funny to see how people decide to use the space
MS: i’m excited to see what you do with it
CS: Thank you :-)
Thank you for interviewing me :-)
MS: yes!!! any time!! this was super fun! <3
i hope u have a good night! i gotta eat dinner!!
CS: ok good night !! talk soon xoxox
by Molly Soda
This was originally published in
Tunica Issue 6 F/W 2017