Interview with Miss Salopette
Miss Salopette’s desk is brimful: next to her oil colours you could find a can of candyfloss with little bones, which by the way remind of her sharp fingers a lot.
The characters Miss Salopette paints are usually children, sometimes girls. Their bodies are soft and their eyes round and big; their shape has the reassuring trait of infancy, but their gaze is vacuous. They are infant in their looks, and adult in their feeling.
Various objects orbit in the surrounding cosmos: puppets, sweets, eye bulbs, or guts, with a sweet cat eating them as they spill out of its owner’s belly, while she’s committing harakiri. The figures are never placed in a precise setting, they’re suspended in time and space. Every one represents a feeling, a mood, or a moment.
There’s a movement which leads towards escapism and dream: but behind the empty eyes flows a clear feeling, so direct it takes you strongly back to reality.
Miss Salopette’s work is built on multiple references, like Eastern and Western iconography, horror and gore, childhood, cinema, deviations.
Miss Salopette (pseudonym of Mery Sinatra) was born in 1985 in Milan, where she studied, lives and works. She spent a few months in Japan, and she wants to go back. Her techniques are drawing, and acrylic, oil and digital painting. Her works’ aesthetics is close to that of newbrow, new pop with japanese influence and superflat.
You call yourself a ‘pixel generation girl’. I’ve also noticed you’ve worked with Gabby La La who specializes in a hybrid post-‘internet’ music. What was it like working with her? Are you influenced by any music in particular?
There’s no better way to describe me. I think this term synthetizes my whole essence. I was born and raised in the digital era, and my art developed and evolved along with the internet. My passions, the things that most influence and fascinate me come from years of exciting, thorough navigation of the web.
Pixels represent the basic unit of the person I am now, my character is an avatar; every day I come into contact with people who know me and recognize me because of my pixel image or what I want them to see of me. I find this extremely fascinating. It’s a new way of conceiving the world.
I met Gabby La La during one of my explorations in the pixel world.
We both ended up on a social network and immediately recognized an amazing harmony in our interests and messaging. When two souls meet in this world where everything is possible, virtual and real at the same time, something really beautiful can see the light. Distance no longer matters and you can cooperate through an exchange of ideas, sounds, and images.
I’ve developed the image of her second album I know you know I know starting from the evocative feelings Gabby reproduces through the sounds of a Nintendo DS console.
There’s a reference to a sort of “school and videogame” childhood dimension, which influenced a whole generation whose members are now adults, but still bond to the playing dimension.
The kind of music that influences me the most is electronic, both rhythmic and ambient. I conceive the bit the same way I conceive the pixel. I like to imagine there’s an invisible code behind the creation of a piece; perfect, mathematical modules that you can visualize as logarithms or colorful shapes; that’s why I appreciate this creative process so much.
Javarnanda is an exceptional guy who makes music the way I intend it. His website recreates a pixel world that bonds perfectly with his musical projects (www.javarnanda.com) and some undeniable spiritual research. He, like me, is a product of the pixel generation.
Same for two girls I met years ago on the internet, Marisol and Maria. Phisically distant but spiritually close. Their project is called Jisatsu Netto (Japanese for Suicide Net, http://www.myspace.com/suicidenet) Their expression is a wonderful product of the pixel generation, too.
Talking about music, I’m very fascinated by Denpa performances and their aesthetics. They started in Japan, and it’s no coincidence it is the Country that influenced me the most.
But besides everything The Beatles, not being electronic at all, have a magnetic, magic influence on me which I can’t explain. Their lyrics and melodies always give me prompts to work on.
How do you see the digital age influencing your traditional art and vice versa?
I often put into matter my virtual-born histeries. Some of my subjects are a mental elaboration of my thoughts about a web page, a shared image, or a sound coming from my Macbook’s speakers. I try to take back to reality the visions that the pixel world inspires me. It’s almost a necessity.
I noticed you’re based in Italy. What is the art scene like there? How does it influence your art?
I’ve never had a really enthusiastic opinion of the Italian contemporary art scene. The ones who take part in shows in galleries are always the same old people, there’s no change and no possibility of knowing new artists close to your aesthetics. It’s not exciting, in general. Anyway, lately, a new wave of new pop and pop surrealism is peeking, and some of its representatives are really interesting.
Thinking of myself as an internet citizen though, I do not consider the Country as a problem. There’s a need for reconsidering the concept of gallery nowadays, a worldwide public gathers on the web.
‘Miss Salopette’ for me conjures the image of Junko Mizuno‘s characters for some reason. Here’s a silly question: where did you come up with your name ‘Miss Salopette’?
This is a question that many ask me, and considering my thoughts one would expect a logical explaination.
Miss Salopette is just a nickname I chose to represent me on the internet, I’ve been using it for a long time, but it didn’t come from me. It’s a nickname Javarnanda sticked on me, I kept it cause it made me smile. I really appreciate that it reminds you of a Junko Mizuno character, I love her works!
What introduced you to Japan and Japanese pop culture? What aspects drew you to it?
The passion for Japan started with manga, but my love for the Country and its pop culture was born on the internet. The more I surfed, the more I discovered aspects that both fascinated and impressed me. What I love about Japan is its being on the cutting edge, the consequent territorial transformation, its contradictions, its pop and subculture trends. But most of all the sociological aspects. The way the Japanese conceive and deal with suicide, the subtle line of paedo-pornography, otaku culture and the dramatic consequences of isolation (hikikomori).
The children and girls I draw certainly have a Japanese mark, shades and colours typical of kawaii aesthetics. Their gaze is always gloomy, angry or lost; it’s the way they perceive the flat and vacuum backgrounds they’re put into. Sometimes they have a mascotte – element I took from Japanese characters – a guiding spirit in the form of an animal that society finds repulsive, like a cockroaches or rat.
Care to introduce us to some of your favourite Japanese pop culture tidbits, shows, art, or general coolness?
I’ll list a few.
Kagedoru is an extravagant trend whose name means wounded idol. Kagedoru girls wear bandages to emulate wounds and evoke frailty, virginal purity, and beauty, at the same time.
Denpa is an ambient where electronic music blends with artistic images, the feeling is that of an exciting underground haunt.
Tokyo Design Festa is an event that gathers in a huge space lots of artists, illustrators, and craft designers. I had the chance to meet artists I appreciate there: it’s a place packed with inspiration!
Your work reminds me of Nara, and especially Aya Takano. Who are your less obvious influences?
Partly Mark Ryden and Fujita; even though they’re not a direct inspiration, I really appreciate their works and maybe I’m unconsciously affected by them.
I noticed you’re familiar with “Funeral Parade of Roses”! That’s one of my favourite movies as well. How do you see ‘vintage’-Japan influencing you?
Sometimes I like to realize tributes to things I really like, like movies. This happened with Funeral Parade of Roses. It’s a chance it is vintage, I usually confront myself with today’s world and current events.
But I’m fascinated with vintage, too! It doesn’t have much space in my works, but I’m not gonna rule out a future involvement.
Speaking of Japanese vintage, I like Toho and Tsuburaya tv series with Ultraman and Booska, Gojira (Godzilla) movies – that I watch with my boyfriend, who’s a fan of this genre – and experimental movies form the 60s-70s, like the horror-grotesque “Hausu”, Guinea Pig, and Shuji Terayama’s oniric visions.
What is it like visiting Tokyo for the first time after being inspired so much about it?
I thought I knew much, having read and inquired much about. But once you dive in the reality of the city you realize what you learned is just a small part of what you could find out by actually living there. I was marveled at everything like a child. I was hungry for any new experience!
Tell us more about the girls you draw. Are they purely figurative, or do they have individual stories? Are they individual people, or are they mythic archetypes of our time?
The girls I draw have a sweet, childish look but embody a contradiction. Their kawaiiness is misleading. They’re gloomy, alienated, confused, sometimes apathetic. For me, they express the unease of my generation. I strongly relate to that. It’s not by accident that I put them into empty contexts, flat colours stressing the vacuity. It’s like they’re suspended in time and space. I want to depict a feeling, more than a story.
I like to insert elements that underline their mood. Sometimes it’s an animal – their “inappropriate” guiding animal – usually felt as repellent. Larvae, insects, cockraches, snails. Sometimes it is an object, like a garbage can, dynamite, a cutter, an alien spaceship, a cross… or a genetic or aesthetic anomaly, like conjoined twins, extra legs, amputated arms or missing parts, like eyes.
These elements generally emphasize the mood, but sometimes they come from stories I read on the internet and the thoughts and discordant feelings they bring me.
Can we have a glimpse of your work space? What is your art process like?
It can all start with an article I’ve read, my feelings before an image, or even my own feelings. I can figure them out only once they’re impressed on something. The process starts with synthetizing the idea on paper through a sketch. Many of my artworks terminate with this step, because they already express the essence of the idea without the need of colour or a dramatic support.
Other times they need to be defined more deeply. In this case I choose the proper technique, support and colouring.
When I decide to make a digital artwork I use Photoshop and a Wacom Bamboo tablet.
When I feel the need of using tactile material, after the first coat I take a picture and study lights, shadows, and colour alternatives directly on my computer. This method really helps me: it speeds up the work and keeps the idea and the feelings “fresh” in my mind, with no fear of error or changing my mind during the realization.
Your website is very cool! It reminds me of www.eyezmaze.com. May I ask you whether if you did it yourself? Are you planning on doing more flash projects?
I’ve always thought that a website should represent one’s vision and world to visitors. A house says something about the person who lives there, a website must do the same. So I decided to represent it as my room, where curious visitors can peep at my stuff.
Concept is mine, but as for the realization I couldn’t help but leaving it in Mr. Javarnanda’s care.
For the moment I don’t have plans about flash projects, but I can’t exclude it.
Do you have any new projects you’re working on you’d like to tell our readers about?
I’m currently working on paintings that will be shown at Studio 21 Art Gallery next december; starting this year, I’m dedicating myself to a project called “Micropop – ultime tendenze dal Giappone visionario” (Micropop – latest trends from visionary Japan) curated by Christian Gangitano. It’s a series of art events that will end up with a collective show in May 2013, in which I’ll take part with some of my works.
I’ll also take part in a very stimulating project called OuterEdit, in which selected artists collaborate on a single drawing that will be finally printed on a t-shirt and I will part of a sperimental Zine, with others talented girl artists from japan, mexico and spain. It’s a NSFW zine, very exciting!
As for my future works, I’m more interested in deepening aspects of the internet and its effects on people. Not seeing it as a mere tool for accessing contents, but as integral part of a new way of being.
Where can we go to find out more about you and your work?
My website: www.missalopette.com