Annka Kultys Gallery: Molly Soda 'From My Bedroom to Yours' (until 16th January 2016)

For this exhibition, an important one for the largely online-based artist Molly Soda, the traditional gallery space undergoes a personal transformation by the artist and cyber figure from Michigan. 'From My Bedroom to Yours' is Soda's first exhibition outside the US and works are distinctly about and addressing 'young girls', which I believe to be something of a subjective phrase. As much of the work focuses on the virtual experience, and the solitude and cyber communities affiliated with it, there is the chance that a wide scope of the public will relate to Soda's work on some level.

Annka Kultys Gallery, E2, belongs to the artist as soon as the viewer enters the space. Bright pink hues found on the walls and supplementing objects instantly evoke the intimacy of a bedroom. These objects include tables, a globe and a mirror; fairly banal things increase the show's value of togetherness between artist and viewer. It is not only the colour scheme which is startlingly consistent from the point of entering the gallery, but the audio coming from Soda's various works ensures that our attention is on her. This is the moment the viewer begins considering the ways in which the artist engages with her audience, in both the online non-place and the gallery setting.

Installation view of 'From My Bedroom to Yours' by Molly Soda
Image courtesy of the artist
www.mollysoda.tumblr.com

Works are shown on devices which 'young girls' of 2015 will be familiar with, such as tablets, small televisions and iPhones, mobilising (quite literally) artworks to new horizons and potentially global audiences. Perhaps the piece with the highest attraction power is 'He', a five-minute YouTube video being played on a large television screen. The artist is present in the video, as with each piece in the exhibition, and the gesture of 'He' involves her gradually moving artificial flowers from one side of the screen to the other, eventually forming a large mount of the flowers. During this time, we hear statements about an anonymous male; they are monotonous and in a long litany. Incidentally, Soda's face is outside of the frame, along with the identity of this man of which she speaks. Statements, again, are highly relatable to young girls/women as she calmly address the complexities of relationships, the ways they are built and dissolved.

In sync with each statement, another flower is added to the large grouping, finally creating a large, overwhelming metaphorical manifestation of the emotions expressed in the video. Including "he blocked me from Twitter" and "he looks at my Facebook six times a day", the phrases resonate with the anxieties of twenty-first century relationships of many varieties. As the exhibition title suggests, the artist's work gives off distinctly personal, candid impressions, although we are at the same time acutely aware that the cyber sphere is one that is inherently deceptive. This aside, Molly Soda uses the platform of social media in its various forms which are now part of the infrastructure of our daily lives, including YouTube and Tumblr, to convey the female body, and to an extent challenge the way it is observed and limited in its depiction. 

Installation view of 'From My Bedroom to Yours' by Molly Soda
Image courtesy of the artist
www.mollysoda.tumblr.com

Having been hailed as a "cyber feminist", the artist shows and portrays herself in multifaceted ways. The word "exposed" would perhaps be some viewers' or critics' terminology of choice for Soda's material, but as aforementioned, there is certainly a self-regulation and editing process which takes place. This is by no means a negative process, it would generally be naive to think of video works such as these as wholly raw and authentic. Being filmed in her own bedroom should not be an immediate indication that the artist is putting herself in a position of vulnerability or being submitted to unwanted exposure, as this merely serves to exacerbate the idea of the female body being something fragile to the dominant patriarchal gaze.

Certainly, there are myriad emotions and ideas among the artist's work, as they venture into the London gallery space. Bittersweet moments are evident in the process, such as can be found in 'I Will Go Down W Dis Ship', a 2015 video in which the artist lip-syncs to the track 'White Flag' by Dido, which was released twelve years ago, but was a hugely successful and sentimental song. Soda's rendition does seem like a serenade, or something of a lament, despite the fact that the piece is filmed in a bathroom with the artist sat on the floor wrapped in a towel. There are points which seem to see the artist parodying many self-indulgent expressions, including selfies and 'tutorial' style YouTube videos. Often it is not clear whether she wishes to join the community of social media users, and celebrate their visual artefacts, or mock them.

Still from 'I Will Go Down W Dis Ship'
Image courtesy of Annka Kultys Gallery
www.annkakultys.com

As a whole, the context of Molly Soda's work is crucial in understanding and appreciating her work. A combination of this and what is actually being said and done makes the work far more relevant and powerful than what the average exhibition-goer might expect from someone who has been described as an "internet personality", which is a fairly redundant term in itself. In a 'post-internet' world, using the platforms that Soda has for her art will surely be utilised by more artists and galleries, especially as producing, curating and hosting artworks increasingly becomes a financial strain. 





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