Shana Moulton is a young American artist, who was exhibited a short while ago (until september) at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, but we, at Hlow, had discovered her work on the Internet long before, through her fascinating and facetious videos.
Shana could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where do you come from? What is your work mainly about?
I’m from Oakhurst, California–a small town between Fresno and Yosemite. I don’t really know what my work is about and I’m terrible at trying to describe what I think it’s about.
I have read in an article that your principal character, Cynthia, is “a hypochondriac and an agoraphobic, stuck in endless delusional attempts to find comfort while being plagued by Technicolor hallucinations”? Did you know from the start that this would be the personality you would give her, or did it grow from one piece to the other?
I didn’t know that she would be a character I would continue to work with. At first she was just a way to feature these dresses I’d made with medical devices embedded in the fabric, so her characteristics were initially defined by the dresses. As I continued to use this character the videos became more and more autobiographical. I am a bit of a hypochondriac and find it hard to leave the house sometimes, but my imagination and creativity thrives within these neuroses.
There a certain pessimism and feeling of unfulfillment in your work, but it is quite funny at the same time… Would you describe yourself more as a cynical, an ironical person, or someone, that is just interested in absurdity and derision? Or all three? And why?
I suppose some of all 3, but I don’t mean to convey derision, poking fun at something or someone (often myself) is a usually a gesture of love. And I can also be sincere and naive. I guess one purpose of the videos is to try and convey sincerity and irony at the same time.
Are you as interested in setting ups, in sceneries, as in the very stories you are filming? Is your attraction to narration bound to be linked to a certain visual universe?
Yes, the story is often driven by objects I find and the environments I create to contain those objects. The camera shots are usually static, and I build the sets to work for just one camera angle, so they are sort of like tableau. It depends on my studio situation, when i have a traditional studio I can build these sets from scratch, but sometimes I embellish pre-existing settings like my parent’s house. And yes the narration is totally bound to this aesthetic I create, the stories are based on certain colors or forms.
What are your inspirations: post-modernism, 3D low cost animation, new age esthetics? Could you give us some references that enabled you to construct the universe you created.
Inspirations: Pee-wee’s Playhouse
Saturday Night Live from the 90s
growing up in a senior mobile home park called Whispering Pines in the Sierra National Forest
visiting San Francisco every year as a kid and living there and in Berkeley as an adult,
coming of age as an artist in the late 90s/early 2000s, discovering artists like Mike Kelley
As a conclusion and because I am sure after this you will want to see more of Shana’s work, and to know more about her, I advise you this great biographic video: