Raspberry Swirl Dyke Views on Tori
Ksenia M. Soboleva Samantha Nye Catalina Schliebener
Dyke Views on Tori
Ksenia M. Soboleva Samantha Nye Catalina Schliebener
The Toris Ksenia M. Soboleva
Reflections on Raspberry Swirl Ksenia M. Soboleva Samantha Nye Catalina Schliebener
List of Works
Ksenia M. Soboleva
In January 2021, I created a WhatsApp group titled “Tori Amos,” and included two of my favorite people: the artists Catalina Schliebener and Samantha Nye. It had already been revealed the previous Summer that Cata and Sam had much in common, when I invited them to participate in Dykonography: Conversations with Artists, a series I had organized in collaboration with The Center in New York to highlight dyke (in)visibility in the artworld. Through a rigorous commitment to the medium of collage, Cata’s artistic practice explores the many forms in which gender manifests itself in childhood imagery. Drawing from children’s books and thrifted toys, their multifaceted collages disrupt the assumed heteronormativity embedded in these images and objects, instead constructing queer narratives that are lush with gender play. Sam, in turn, is a figurative painter and filmmaker on a pursuit to dismantle the ageist equation between youth and beauty. Queering midcentury references in a distinct camp aesthetic, her works visualize trans-inclusive lesbian spaces of playful pleasure. Intrigued by Cata and Sam’s respective interests in age groups that are cast outside the dominance of “adulthood,” I was eager to foster a dialogue around queer ways of inhabiting time and space that go against an ingrained fixation on linearity and growth. And what a lively dialogue it was! In addition to their shared investment in intergenerational kinship, the two artists connected over a strong affinity for the color pink, working outside of a stylistic mainstream, and serendipitously both being born in August 1980. It wasn’t until Thanksgiving, however, that I became aware of another commonality between my friends. Posting a picture I had snapped of a Tori Amos cassette tape on Cata’s bookshelf to my Instagram story, my phone quickly pinged with a DM from Sam: “Who is the Tori fan? Ask them their
favorite album.” Distracted by the self-coined lesbian ceviche we had prepared for our holiday meal, I did not engage with Sam’s question at the moment. Yet, by the following morning my inbox was filled with messages celebrating Tori Amos… nearly all of them from people in my life that identify as dykes. Naturally, I figured that this was reason enough to embark on a project investigating the musician’s queer allure, with Sam and Cata as both my case studies and partners in crime. Re-listening and collectively analyzing every album Tori released in the 1990s, our dedication bordered obsessiveness. Within a few weeks the WhatsApp group was bursting with hours’ worth of audio messages in which we shared our thoughts, Tori videos, snippets from family albums, and images of Sam and Cata’s work. As it happens, the artists were both preparing for major exhibitions: Sam’s first solo show, My Heart’s in a Whirl at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (June 12 – October 31, 2021), and Cata’s large mural at the Leslie Lohman Museum in New York, as part of the group exhibition OMNISCIENT, curated by Avram Finkelstein (June 18 – January 2, 2022). Structured as a series of virtual conversations, Raspberry Swirl: Dyke Views on Tori took the shape of a five-week Instagram project @lyeberryhq that posed Tori Amos as a time-capsule into the 1990s, the decade that marked Cata and Sam’s adolescence (and this writer’s infancy). In our weekly dialogues, we discovered the critical role that Tori’s music played in the artists’ formative years, giving permission to a form of soft rebellion that tackled religion, family, and sexuality. The particular performance of gender that Tori signified entailed an embodiment of low femme aesthetics, combined with a “bad girl” attitude and unabashed sensuality. Imagine what it must have felt like for prospective queers to see a mesmerizing redhead ride a piano bench
while singing how awfully disappointing God can be... Whether through desire, identification, or a combination of both, Tori Amos symbolized an alternative way of being a “girl” that was instrumental to Cata and Sam’s early navigation of their gender and sexuality. And they were not alone. Each week, we featured additional conversations with numerous guests who shared the deep love for Tori, including Emily Wells, Vivian Crockett, Megan Milks, and Michael R. Jackson. Drawing out shared experiences of deep listening with the lights out, keeping dedicated diaries and scrapbooks, and acquiring a sense of self through the lyrics, our project uncovered a constellation of queer Tori fandom. The WhatsApp group is still active, though our conversations have expanded far beyond Tori Amos. Somewhere along the way, Cata decidedly changed the group’s name to The Toris—suggesting not only that we have internalized what Tori represents to us, both past and present, but that she has come to define the development of our lasting friendship.
Colette Montoya-Sloan, Untitled journal collage (Tori Amos), early 2000’s
Samantha Nye, Attractive People Doing Attractive Things in Attractive Places- Island in the Stream, 2020
Following: Attractive People Doing Attractive Things in Attractive Places- Pool Party 1, 2018
Attractive People Doing Attractive Things in Attractive Places- Double your Pleasure, Double your Pleasure, 2019-2020 Photograph © 2021, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
“I CAN SCREAM AS LOUD AS YOUR LAST ONE”
Tori Amos, Leather, Little Earthquakes (1992)
Following: Catalina Schliebener, Orden y Secreto (installation view), Hache Galería, Buenos Aires, 2019
Prosthetic Blocks, 2019
Inside Out (Bing Bong), 2019
Monster Inc. (Sulley), 2019
Orden y Secreto (installation detail), Hache Galería, Buenos Aires, 2019
Following: Satanic Panic (installation view) OMNISCIENT: Queer Documentation in an Image Culture, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, 2021
Satanic Panic #1, 2021
Satanic Panic #3, 2021
Satanic Panic #5, 2021
Satanic Panic #2, 2021
Previous: Satanic Panic (installation detail) OMNISCIENT: Queer Documentation in an Image Culture, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, 2021
"LAY YOUR BOOK ON MY CHEST FEEL THE WORD FEEL THE WORD FEEL THE WORD FEEL IT"
Tori Amos, Icicle, Under the Pink (1994)
The following is a transcript of a zoom conversation between Sam, Ksenia, and Cata that happened on August 18, 2021. Together they reflect on their lyeberry project, Raspberry Swirl: Dyke Views on Tori.
Ksenia: Hi Toris. Sam: Hi. Cata: Hi Toris. Ksenia: I would love to know what you both thought when I first proposed doing this project and using Tori Amos as a lens through which we can view your respective art practices. Cata: Sam, do you want to go first? Sam: I was hoping you would go first, Cata. Cata: I think the first time you told me about it, I was so excited because we did that talk at The Center together. But yeah, I have to say that it was a surprise. Like, I didn’t see the connection. I didn’t see my work directly related to Tori. But immediately after, I became intrigued because I really like projects where the associations and connections are not obvious, and they’re kind of oblique. And I took it that way, I guess. Like okay, we’re going to talk about, like Tori said, it’s an excuse to talk about our lessons. And I was feeling that this whole pandemic year has been pretty much me reconnecting with my teenage self, for various reasons. A year ago, I turned 40 and I think that’s maybe part of it. I was going really deep into my adolescence and I had this flashback to Tori. So the project was a nice surprise and a good way to reconnect with that. But I didn’t know what to expect, actually. And I really love when a project starts that way. I love when I connect with another artist, through a third thing that is not necessarily our work. It allows my mind to go to places that I really like. Almost like free association. I also have ADD, so my mind goes to amazing places when I start talking about something different, and then I’m trying to come back to my work and it goes to unexpected places as well. So I think that was my reaction. I’m saying all this after we already did it. So I have a perspective on it that I didn’t have in the beginning. That’s what I want to say. That’s what I will say.
Sam: I kind of relate. Like, having any excuse to talk about Tori Amos is rare, especially any in depth conversation is so exciting to me that I’m all in. Because I think there’s this way that Tori Amos is kind of, just like, a part of my being, because it was such a tightly woven part of my younger self. But at the time you proposed the project, I couldn’t understand how one could say my work was influenced by Tori, because so many things have been. I didn’t really get it at first, but I still was excited about it. Ksenia: Wonderful, I want to come back to that later. During our five-week Instagram project, we really tapped into our teenage selves and we had this intense high school dynamic between the three of us, where we were talking every day… Cata: We have a WhatsApp group. Ksenia: We have a WhatsApp group and we talk every day. Sam: And not just every day. Like as if we were teenagers, with the technology available today, this is how we would have been talking ALL day. Ksenia: Those hours and hours of audio messages, the equivalent would be being on the landline all day long with your friends. Sam: Passing notes in class. Ksenia: Yeah, and it’s… It’s not just us, it’s anyone that we’ve spoken to. Like Tori somehow evokes this nostalgia. What do you think it is about Tori in particular? Because you know, there were other musicians in that period, but they don’t have the same effect. Sam: I think had you asked me that before the project, I would have just said, well, simply for me it’s because that’s when I encountered her. Right in middle school and high school. But through the project, I think we identified all these ways in which Tori Amos is talking about feeling othered, feeling outside of discovering the self, disconnecting from the parental units,
Sam: reconnecting with parental units. So there’s like this… there are these themes about finding one’s sexuality, finding oneself. And claiming things for yourself that I think are really valuable for that time period in one’s life. Ksenia: Exactly Sam: And it’s possible that’s part of it, too. Ksenia: Yeah, she’s… sorry, go ahead. Sam: No, no. Ksenia: She really voices difference at a time when, especially if you’re queer, you become aware of your difference. And it’s interesting also that Sam, you in particular, you were going to Tori concerts by yourself and that was your thing, that you wanted to go by yourself so that you could sneak into the first row. A lot of people felt like they had to keep her a secret, that it was a very private experience, that Tori was theirs. Sam: Cata, I’d be so curious what you think, but for me - in contrast to other things that were happening at that time, such as Ani DiFranco, which was much later, and seemed more of a thing that you did with other people - Tori was private but still this late 90’s early 2000’s idea where discovery was all to the front. And so that was to be experienced with other people. Tori Amos is so much more hidden, more poetic, darker, deeper for me. So that felt like something that was mine. And I feel lucky that, as teenagers, we didn’t have all the social media that teenagers have now. It was possible to really stay inner, to keep it to the self. And that’s why when you found other people that were listening to Tori, it was so exciting. And, it turns out it still is. Cata: I think that’s pretty much something that we discovered with this project. It was the same experience for me, it was something that… it was like a guilty pleasure, somehow?
Cata: I don’t like to talk in terms of nostalgia. I don’t really like that word, in the sense that I don’t think that it’s only nostalgia for my own adolescence. I am really interested in adolescence as a time period. Like this in-between moment that we were talking about, when you’re not fully a grown up, but you’re not a kid. And all the things that happened in that time really determine who you’re going to be, or the person that you want to be somehow. So Tori really informed that moment and I never discovered that until this project. What she represented, basically, was a key part to understanding who I was. Or I mean, seen in retrospect, now that we’re grown-ups. It’s the construction of what we do about that time. It’s a fiction too, you know. So that’s why, more than nostalgia, for me, I really like adolescence as a figure, almost like an anthropological phenomenon, and in particular adolescence in the 90s, because that’s the moment that I was a teen. But I realized during this project that every time that I think about adolescence, it’s not only my adolescence, it’s an adolescence of a whole generation. And how, exactly what you were saying Sam, we didn’t have…like Internet was just beginning, I didn’t have access to Internet. I barely had access to TV. I mean, we talked about this when we did the project, like it was a really particular time, not only in my life but in the country that I was living. It was a particular political moment. So it was amazing to see this intense, smarty pants, bad ass woman show me that, somehow, there’s a possibility I wasn’t seeing in anybody else. But she wasn’t alone. And it was a little capsule of like six years that we had this really powerful woman in, like, mainstream culture, because certainly, I don’t know, I was listening to some punk bands from the late 80s and beginning of the 90s… I wasn’t aware of, like Riot Grrrls yet, that came later. I was really into L7 and Babes in Toyland, but those were underground bands. So Tori was the first time that I was seeing, like on MTV, you know, on a daily basis, somebody who had that attitude. Sam: And I’m so happy you’re bringing up Riot Grrrl, because again, Riot Grrrl is like the thing—it was a huge part of my life— but it was a thing that you did with people, it was a movement.
Sam: It was a culture. And yeah, Tori Amos was a private thing. And I think that difference is so, so crucial. Cata: Yeah, I like to think that more than private, it was a solitary thing. And I think it’s like—and it really resonated with me what you said about that poetic, that it’s something that you listen on your own, somehow. It speaks directly to yourself. And that’s why it was a little, kind of like a guilty pleasure. Only one of my friends was into her, the other one hated her, you know? And at the same time, I was this kind of metal goth kid. So I was like, why? I’m not supposed to be listening to this. But somehow she spoke to me. Yeah, it’s kind of amazing. Ksenia: And during the project, we really tapped into like a whole network, like a Tori—what were we calling it? Not a Tori universe, but a Tori... Sam: Tori-sphere? Cata: Tori-vortex? Ksenia: Vortex. I think it was Vortex. And we had so many amazing guests, Tori guests. And I’m wondering who in particular stood out to you? I mean, they were all wonderful, of course, but... Sam: Well, I mean, of the people that I spoke to separately, I think… During my Tori Amos obsession, or, a little bit later, right in the early 2000s, so I had been listening to her for a while at that point, but it’s when I was introduced to the drag performer Daisy Dead Petals, and I just kind of fell in love with night-life and with her. Girlfriends at the time would be like: “Wait, do you have a crush on the show, or on her?? Like you can’t get enough of the show or of her?” I was seeing her multiple times a week, but I was also performing and being on that scene. So to go back to someone who I kind of had such an exciting feeling about, who was a Tori Amos fan, who shared that love at that time, but we’d never talked about it. It was like a pent-up conversation, because I always
Sam: wanted to talk to Daisy Dead Petals about Tori. So twenty years later, to have that conversation was beyond exciting. And then to speak with playwright Michael Jackson was incredible, because his enthusiasm for Tori is so apparent. I feel like we’re the same age and seeing his work and how infused it was—it is—with Tori, with the feelings of that time period. Yeah, it was just completely incredible. Ksenia: Yeah, and he’s somebody who has really, like, internalized Tori in the way that sometimes you internalize theory and you don’t have to say that, “Oh, what I’m saying right now is informed by Derrida,” for example. But it’s so clear that you are informed by Derrida, to make a really snobby reference. Sam: Right, this would not be— Ksenia: I should have said Jill Johnston. Sam: Sure. Ksenia: *laughs* I’m sorry. Why did I say Derrida?! Sam: But I love what you’re saying. That’s exactly the thing: informed by deeply. And that’s what I’m trying to say about myself, why this project was so exciting. Speaking to him, there’s no question where Tori fits into his work. There’s no point. It is there. It will continue to be there. In his case it’s more overt than with Cata and myself. But it’s so a part of who he is, I learned through this conversation and I felt like I was talking to an actual high school friend, that we were both, you know, seventeen, sixteen, hanging out after school, just geeking out about the new Tori album, like that’s how it felt to talk to him. And that feeling… I mean, I should just watch our conversation every now and then so I can feel like I’m hanging out. Ksenia: It’s really beautiful. And that image of him, I think he said something like turning off the lights and putting on the Tori record.
Cata: And playing the piano. I mean, that conversation was amazing. Yeah. Sam: Right. And that surprised me. We hadn’t talked about him playing, you know, and I remember the first moment he just turned around to start playing the songs. Ksenia: And you don’t see the piano! Sam: You don’t see the piano, right! Right. That was an amazing interview. I mean, I really loved all of our conversations. But for me, those two were like… I was nervous about them, in a giddy, high schooler way. Cata: Same thing, same thing. For me, the conversations that we had as a group and then the particular ones with some friends here that are not necessarily super close friends. I mean, they—yeah, like Colette and Ali. They’re not super close friends. But we got closer through those conversations because they were huge Tori fans. But if I had to highlight, one that I have on my mind, was with my friend Dani Umpi, who has been a longtime friend—I met him in Argentina. And we always knew that we were Tori fans, but we never actually talked about it. And we’ve known each other for more than ten years, so it’s super interesting that this gave us an excuse of excuse to talk about Tori and a lot of things, and reconnect in a way that was kind of awesome. So, yeah, I will highlight the conversation with Dani, and he invited another friend who’s a huge Tori fan, and they ended up creating a cover song. But yeah, it’s been such a Pandora’s Box, this project, because it connected me. We even met people through this project. Sam: You mean Pandora’s Aquarium? Cata: Yeah. Sam: Sorry, Tori reference!
Cata: Tori reference! Yeah, I think we’re still unwrapping all the things that appeared in the project. I mean, at a personal level, at least I think I’m still working with something that appeared through this project. Ksenia: Yeah. Cata: So yeah, it’s really tricky to highlight one of our guests. But for different reasons, I think all the conversations were great and it was like, again, like 20 years later to find these friends that I couldn’t find when I was a teenager. It was like, where were all these hidden friends? And it was like a weird, weird connection, 20 years after, you know? Sam: Well, in high school, everyone writes the people they listen to on their backpacks and you’re flagging your favorite bands and then you become friends with those people. It’s almost like we formed the kind of friendship as if we met each other in the hallway and then became best high school friends through Tori Amos. Cata: Yeah, but also for me, it was such a weird experience because I moved to the US only six years ago. So, to connect with these people through this project / the Tori project was a really interesting experiment. I really like this vortex that we created somehow. And the fact that we [Sam and Cata] became friends doing this. And the three of us come from really different backgrounds, grew up in different places of the world. But at the same time this project and talking about all the things that we covered made me realize how we have so many connections, and how rare those connections are in the art world. I mean, we were having this conversation the other day Sam— I don’t find friends in the arts so often, especially artists or even curators that I feel came from a similar background, that is maybe working or middle class. We struggle with a lot of things that other people in the art world do not necessarily experience. And I think that somehow this Tori-Vortex that we opened… Yeah, it makes me think about a lot of things that I wasn’t aware of before.
Ksenia: It was an interesting case of queering time and space. I think, at least for me at that age, I didn’t really… I certainly had very intense teenage friendships that in hindsight were queer. But I feel like so many of us queers don’t really get to have those friendships and simultaneously be aware of their queerness at the time. Cata: Yeah, yeah. Ksenia: So, it’s interesting to then recreate those dynamics and actually understand what they mean as adults. Like retroactive queering. Cata: Absolutely. And I think it’s related to the moment that we are right now. I think this project would never be possible the way that it was, or still is, without the pandemic. I mean, we spent hours and hours and hours sending each other messages. Messages, images, pictures. I mean, the conversations that people can watch in the online archive is just like a glimpse of all the conversations that we had. And now we’re coming back to some kind of reality. Ksenia: Yeah, oftentimes I was listening and recording while walking because at that point I wasn’t taking the subway. And I would just walk everywhere. And I remember like, I remember the one where, Cata, you were talking about the metal bands that you were listening to and how it was representative of a certain kind of internalized misogyny. That was a really dark conversation. And I was listening to it on my walk from Chelsea to the Lower East Side, which is an hour and a half walk. Cata: Yeah. Ksenia: The sun was setting, and I opened my phone and I had at least an hour of voice messages. Cata: Yeah. For me, it was also the product of not—I clearly am not a super social person in the sense that I don’t have a lot of friends, but I have really close friends that I speak to really often.
Cata: And I think I was missing that even before the pandemic. Like this has been an issue for me in New York. I don’t have those friends anymore. And with you guys, I found that again. So it was like we were trapped for six or eight months before this project started. And then suddenly, I have these new friends. I have the feeling that we experienced like three years condensed into one year. Ksenia: Yeah, yeah. Cata: And that is super rare. Like amazing, I mean. Sam: It’s funny because when I wasn’t talking to you guys about Tori Amos, I was listening to Tori Amos or listening to the podcast [Drive All Night] of those boys talking about Tori Amos. And so I felt like I was in this complete, as we say, vortex. And it just yeah, it was so beautiful. Ksenia: So looking back now—and this will be my last question... What has this revealed to you about your work. And do you think differently about it, has it exposed certain aspects of your practice that now you realize—oh, yeah, Tori’s in here. Sam: Yes. Cata: Yes, do you want to go first, Sam? Sam: You know, my work revolves around an inherent form of intimacy within families, which I understand to a certain extent is taboo. But I think that Tori made me realize that there are ways you can talk about family and sexuality as metaphors for religion and culture. You know, when she’s like, “I need peace, love and a hard cock.” She made it okay to acknowledge certain things, in a way that’s kind of campy and playful, but also not void of meaning. Do I think Tori Amos is camp? Not always, but I think there are moments of camp, while at the same time being critical. I want my work to have that same ability of drawing you in with something
Sam: playful and campy, while addressing critical issues around family and sexuality at the core. I feel like she taught me what to look for in art. Whereas I would never return to other things I was listening in that time period and feel the same way. Cata: Yeah. Sam: I wouldn’t return to the external music that I was speaking of earlier because that was more about something else. It wasn’t as much of a teacher, as it was a flag of who I was in the moment or something like that, I don’t know if that’s making sense. But yeah, I think of Tori Amos as a teacher in that way, or as Michael Jackson said: the mother, right? The mother of Holy… Ksenia: Joni Mitchell is the Mother, Liz Phair the Daughter, and Tori is the Holy Spirit. Sam: Holy Spirit! But I don’t know. I guess I would think of it as like a house mom. She’s the house mom. Ksenia: She stands the test of time in certain ways. Yeah, Cata? Cata: Yeah, I feel super related. And I was going into my own thoughts while I was listening to what Sam was saying. I think something kind of similar. I wouldn’t think it before, it was after this project that I realized that yes, there’s something about her work as an artist—and I’m talking only about records that we listened to, that is really appealing to my work in the sense that, yeah, again, a lot of the lyrics are full of images. And I think that’s pretty much how my brain works, because I have a really bad memory. I basically only remember things through images. So it’s super interesting that she put together in the lyrics, like a lot of connections, that again this relates to the things that I was saying earlier. Somehow, my brain works well with free association, and kind of mixing random stuff that shouldn’t be together. It’s pretty much a collage in that way, but also allows me to… It’s full of images, and it’s full of made up phrases that sometimes don’t make sense. It makes sense, on an emotional level somehow, you know,
Cata: especially when I was a teenager and trying to understand what the fuck Tori was talking about, like, I couldn’t. I was only able to access the emotions or feelings or memories. And I feel that’s how my work takes up things, you know. And that’s why I opposed to nostalgia, because it’s not a clear memory, and it’s not like a fetish, it’s more like… an uncanny feeling. There’s something, there’s a glimpse of something that I remember, but I can’t fully access it, you know. I think a lot of aspects in my work deal with that, especially because I work with childhood. But again, it’s the construction of childhood, or the deconstruction of childhood. And it’s made out of fragments that I don’t create. So I think there’s kind of a similar construction like between how… I’m tripping here. This whole project made me realize how my mind works. Like, I never thought of that exercise of going, jumping from one thought to another, working for my work, but with this project it became really clear. And it’s clear that somehow collage works that way. Like, you know the elements that you’re going to use. You have an intention with those elements. You kind of know what you’re going to talk about, but you never know what the result will be. So, yeah, I think this project made me connect with that in a super clear way. And also connect with the desire to work on adolescence. I’ve been making work about childhood for 20 years, and I made a few attempts to create work about teens, but I was never able to do it. I have a few failed projects about it. And then somehow I’m feeling that with this project I’m close to eventually figuring out what that next work is going to be: about adolescence in general, and my own adolescence, understanding that my adolescence, again, is not my own story, but connected to others. And I really like what you say, Sam, about that camp aesthetic, because, yeah, it’s like something that we can read because it exists, you know? It’s not… it’s cheesy to say it, but yeah, like even though it’s a really private experience, there were a lot of kids having the same private experience. So that doesn’t make us unique, but when you connect that with queerness, it’s kind of awesome. Sam: Totally. I was thinking, too, another answer to this question that I’d think to give you is that: she tried on identity in a way that I hadn’t seen. I met Tori Amos before I knew of Adrian Piper,
Sam: Cindy Sherman or anybody who was sort of taking on an identity. And what does it mean for a woman to do this? What does it mean for a woman to sing songs written by men? And how does that act simply change something just because of the person delivering the content—I hate the word content, let’s back up—the person delivering that message, right? Cata: Yeah. Sam: The person inhabiting that piece. So I feel like she almost introduced me to performance art before I saw that. I feel like she understood a kind of artistic aesthetic. And maybe she knew that, and I didn’t know that, you know? I didn’t really listen to American Doll Posse, but I understood what she… I was intrigued by what she was doing, all of that seems really vital, in hindsight, with this project. And somehow you, Ksenia, knew that before we knew that. Cata: Yeah. Sam: The more I think about it, I think about all the ways in which she kind of taught me about identity and knew all these things before I could know them, and then learn about them in the art world. Cata: Yeah. And similar to that experience, I’m realizing now as a grown up how much she taught me and I couldn’t figure it out then, you know what I mean? And even, like this conversation and listening to you, Sam, it’s so interesting because we were kids, but she was like not fully our—she wasn’t our age. She was younger at that time than we are now, but she was a grown-up. She was already an artist. Sam: I think she was in her 30s when— Cata: She was in her 30s, so a little younger than we are now.
Ksenia: She was my age. Sam: Yeah. Cata: Yeah, exactly. So it makes a lot of sense. It’s like a weird connection, in the sense that she wasn’t like a full artist, yet maybe? But at least for me, that period is the most interesting period in her career, like ending with Strange Little Girls. Strange Little Girls, is like a performance act, to take your term, Sam. It’s like a gesture, you know. It’s more than a record; it’s more than a cover record. It’s like: I’m wrapping up the end of the 90s with this gesture of subverting and reverting, all these lyrics written by men, and I’m going to write it in my own words, like she doesn’t change all the words, but that’s what—it’s a gesture that is beyond music. Sam: Yeah. Cata: But to your point, it was accessing a sensibility present in contemporary art—and it happened with other musicians, too. But more in the underground culture for me, you know? I learned about Cindy Sherman because of Babies in Toyland, like Cindy Sherman made one of their record covers in the mid 90s. But all those references to the arts were more underground than Tori. Like Tori was more camp in a way. You know, even though the art on her records is amazing. You know, there are some weird references to contemporary art, or like mid 90s art. Sam: Yeah. Cata: Tori and other musicians were my entry to the arts because again, and this is kind of the thing that I was saying before, even though I grew up in a middle class family, I didn’t have access to contemporary art. So my way of entering art was through music and through popular culture. So, yeah, I think Tori, now I realize, played a huge role in that. Sam: I’m just thinking that my entire project, meaning everything
Sam: I do in my art, is about remaking something that’s already been made, and making alterations and re-inhabiting it. And so… like, where did I learn that from? Strange Little Girls. Shit! Cata and Ksenia, simultaneously: Yeah. Sam: I learned a lot from her. Cata: Yeah. Sam: I guess, I really didn’t realize that either. Cata: I mean that’s another thing, we can start a whole new project with that discovery, Sam. I pretty much think that our works are super connected in a way, again, is oblique and not obvious. And it has to do with… I picture you as a painter, for sure, because you spend hours and hours and hours and hours actually painting, but you’re way more than a painter. Like you are an installation artist, a video artist, and a collage artist because your paintings are collages in a way, you know? Sam: I’m a wannabe collage artist. Cata: I really wanted to be a painter. But I was really bad. Sam: I’ll teach you and you teach me. Ksenia: I think this is a good note to wrap up on. I just maybe have one more comment to add, which is that I think for a lot of queers in particular, Tori really was an introduction to what it means to be obsessed with something. Sam: For sure! Ksenia: And that is something that we channel later on, and it’s something that we have channeled in this project. I mean, we were essentially obsessed with each other.
Sam: Yes, there’s no “were” about it, I’m still obsessed. Ksenia: We’re obsessed with each other. And that taps into our practices, too; for me as a writer, for you two as artists, what does it mean to be so insanely into something that you feel like you have to research it and know everything about it and then… put all that energy and material into your work. Sam: Yeah. Ksenia: Create that… Sam: I mean… I used to tap into that feeling a lot more— Ksenia: Because you had more time. Sam: In my youth. I don’t know, I don’t know. I feel like something changed. As I got a little bit older, I stopped feeling so consumed by ideas and by things, but it’s not entirely true because that’s what fuels my paintings… Like, how can you spend eight to eleven hours a day making something if you’re not consumed and obsessed by it? I guess it just feels different now. Cata: Yeah. For me, it made me realize that I’ve been doing that obsessiveness the whole time. And that’s pretty much how my world works. Actually, I work on projects that usually go from like one, to three or four years sometimes. Those projects that I put a name on, like the latest is Satanic Panic, but it’s just an excuse to research a cultural phenomenon. And then the pieces might not express that fully, like the whole nerdy research investigation and that phase to basically have an excuse, that in a way is super similar to some exercises I was doing when I was a teenager. Like, being obsessed with one musician and translate the lyrics and, you know? I think collage is also similar to that. To your point, Sam, I mean, you spend hours and hours and hours, like actually painting. The same way that I spend hours and hours and hours making cutouts, you know? And it’s a lot of invisible labor that in a way,
Cata: I like what you said, Sam, like we have to be really into it. There’s no way of doing it if you’re not into it. You know, I think even like the practicality of our practice is not—I don’t want to say that it’s a waste of time, but it’s not… Capitalism, in a way. There’s a lot, a lot of hours of invisible labor. Ksenia: Yes, which is the total opposite of capitalism. Cata: That you don’t even see the result necessarily, you know? Sam: Yeah that’s so true. Cata: And I really, really like to think of that gesture as one of resistance, you know? Like, those hours, you know that they’re there, but they’re not, in a way. You take months to do one painting. I took a few hours to build a collage, but to be able to build a collage, I have to do the cutouts before. The cutouts take hours and hours and hours. And so I think there’s something similar about that invisible labor that I think is super queer. It puts both of our work closer to craft. And even during this process of knowing each other and how we work, because that also happened during this intense teenage friendship, we’re not teenagers anymore and we’re actually working in our own work and in our own practice. And yeah, for me, it was awesome to discover there’s another artist who is like me who obsessively has to decide which type of tinsel to use. And I’m like: “Oh, okay. I’m not the only weirdo spending time, hours and hours thinking of one specific material or how I should cut this. And I think that’s awesome. Doing this project, I feel less lonely in that way. Sam: Yeah. Cata: You know? Sam: I agree. Ksenia: I think that’s a great final sentence.
Right: Samantha Nye, My Hearts In A Whirl (Sign), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2021 Following:Visual Pleasure/Jukebox Cinema (installation view), Het HEM, Zaandam, Netherlands, 2021
Previous: Visual Pleasure/Jukebox Cinema (installation interior view), Wallach Art Gallery, New York, 2018
Visual Pleasure/Jukebox Cinema- SILENCER (video still), 2016
My Hearts In a Whirl (installation view), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2021
Visual Pleasure/Jukebox Cinema- Calendar Girl (video stills), 2014
Visual Pleasure/Jukebox Cinema- DADDY (video stills), 2018
Play Date (installation view), Columbia University, New York, 2016
Play Date (Double Triangle Cross), Columbia University, New York, 2016
“STARFUCKER JUST LIKE MY DADDY, YES”
Tori Amos, Professional Widow, Boys for Pele (1996)
Following: Catalina Schliebener, Growing Sideways (installation views) Hache Galería, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2017
Curveball (installation details), M E N Gallery, New York, 2017
“You think I’m a queer I think you’re a queer Said I think you’re a queer, I think you’re a queer”
Tori Amos, Boys for Pele, Blood Roses (1996)
List of Works (in order of appearance) Samantha Nye Attractive People, Doing Attractive Things in Attractive Places- Island In the Steam, 2020 10 x 14 inches. Oil on paper Courtesy of the artist Samantha Nye Attractive People, Doing Attractive Things in Attractive Places- Pool Party I, 2018 60 x 94.5 inches. Oil on canvas Collection of Yossi Milo Samantha Nye Attractive People, Doing Attractive Things in Attractive Places- Double Your Pleasure - Double Your Pleasure, 2019-2020 45 x 71 inches. Oil on canvas Collection of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston James N. Krebs Purchase Fund for 21st Century Paintings 2020.500 Courtesy of the artist and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Photograph © 2021, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Two consecutive plates: Catalina Schliebener Orden y Secreto (installation view), 2019 Variable dimensions. Collage on Disney book pages, porcelain figurines, articulated plastic figures, paper, light boxes, sock monkey parts, plexiglass, rubber and wood objects Exhibition: Orden y Secreto, August 13 - September 21, 2019 Curated by Nicolás Cuello, Hache Galería, Buenos Aires, Argentina Courtesy of the artist and Hache Galería, Buenos Aires, Argentina, © Nacho Iasparra Catalina Schliebener Prosthetic Blocks, 2019 Variable dimensions. Porcelain figurines, sock monkeys parts, plexiglass, rubber and wood objects Courtesy of the artist and Hache Galería, Buenos Aires, Argentina, © Nacho Iasparra Catalina Schliebener Inside Out (Bing Bong), 2019 Variable dimensions. Porcelain figurines, articulated plastic figures, paper, light box Courtesy of the artist and Hache Galería, Buenos Aires, Argentina, © Nacho Iasparra Catalina Schliebener Monster Inc. (Sulley), 2019 Variable dimensions. Porcelain figurines, articulated plastic figures, paper, light box Courtesy of the artist and Hache Galería, Buenos Aires, Argentina, © Nacho Iasparra Catalina Schliebener Satanic Panic, 2019-2021 Variable dimensions. Collages, graphite, thread on mat, Disney book pages on wall Exhibition: OMNICIENT: Queer Documentation in an Image Culture, June 18, 2021 - January 2, 2022 Curated by Avram Finkelstein, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, 2021 Courtesy of the artist and Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, © Kristine Eudey Catalina Schliebener Satanic Panic #1, 2021 30 x 40 x 2 inches. Collage, graphite, and thread on mat Exhibition: OMNICIENT: Queer Documentation in an Image Culture, June 18, 2021 - January 2, 2022 Curated by Avram Finkelstein, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, 2021 Courtesy of the artist and Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York Catalina Schliebener Satanic Panic #3, 2021 30 x 40 x 2 inches. Collage, graphite, and thread on mat Exhibition: OMNICIENT: Queer Documentation in an Image Culture, June 18, 2021 - January 2, 2022 Curated by Avram Finkelstein, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, 2021 Courtesy of the artist and Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York Catalina Schliebener Satanic Panic #5, 2021 30 x 40 x 2 inches. Collage, graphite, and thread on mat Exhibition: OMNICIENT: Queer Documentation in an Image Culture, June 18, 2021 - January 2, 2022 Curated by Avram Finkelstein, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, 2021 Courtesy of the artist and Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York Catalina Schliebener Satanic Panic #2, 2021 30 x 40 x 2 inches. Collage, graphite, and thread on mat Exhibition: OMNICIENT: Queer Documentation in an Image Culture, June 18, 2021 - January 2, 2022 Curated by Avram Finkelstein, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, 2021 Courtesy of the artist and Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York
Samantha Nye My Heart’s In a Whirl (Sign) (installation view), 2021 10 x 14 inches. LED lights and plexiglas Exhibition: My Heart’s In a Whirl, June 12, 2021 - October 31, 2021, Lizbeth and George Krupp Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Courtesy of the artist and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, © Ksenia M. Soboleva Samantha Nye Visual Pleasure/Jukebox Cinema (installation view), 2021 Dimensions variable. Mixed media, HD video Exhibition: Chapter 4OUR: Abundance, September 3 - October 31, 2021, Het HEM, Zaandam, Netherlands Curated by Simon(e) van Saarloos and Vincent van Velsen Courtesy of the artist and Het HEM, Zaandam, Netherlands, © C. Eeftinck Schattenkerk Samantha Nye Jukebox Cinema (interior installation view), 2018 Dimensions variable. Mixed media, HD video Exhibition: 2018 MFA Thesis Exhibition, April 21 - May 20, 2018, Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York Courtesy of the artist Samantha Nye Visual Pleasure/Jukebox Cinema (interior installation view), 2021 Dimensions variable. Mixed media, HD video Exhibition: My Heart’s In a Whirl, June 12, 2021 - October 31, 2021, Lizbeth and George Krupp Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Courtesy of the artist and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, © Ksenia M. Soboleva Samantha Nye Visual Pleasure/Jukebox Cinema- SILENCER (video still), 2016 HD video, sound Courtesy of the artist Samantha Nye Visual Pleasure/Jukebox Cinema- DADDY (video stills), 2018 HD video, sound Courtesy of the artist Samantha Nye Play Date (installation view), 2016 Dimensions variable. Mixed media, HD video Exhibition: 2016 First-Year MFA Exhibition, Columbia University, New York, March 26 - April 9, 2016 Curated by Amanda Parmer Courtesy of the artist Samantha Nye Play Date (Double Triangle Cross), 2016 Dimensions variable. Mixed media, HD video Exhibition: 2016 First-Year MFA Exhibition, Columbia University, New York, March 26 - April 9, 2016 Curated by Amanda Parmer Courtesy of the artist Three consecutive plates: Catalina Schliebener Growing Sideways (installation view), 2017 Variable dimensions. Collage on paper, vinyl on wall, found objects, plexiglass boxes Growing Sideways, March 14 - April 29, 2017, Hache Galería, Buenos Aires, Argentina Curated by John Chaich Courtesy of the artist and Hache Galería, Buenos, Aires, Argentina, © Nacho Iasparra Two consecutive plates: Catalina Schliebener Growing Sideways (installation details), 2017 Variable dimensions. Collage on paper, vinyl on wall, found objects, plexiglass boxes Growing Sideways, March 14 - April 29, 2017, Hache Galería, Buenos Aires, Argentina Curated by John Chaich Courtesy of the artist and Hache Galería, Buenos, Aires, Argentina, © Nacho Iasparra Catalina Schliebener Curveball (installation details), 2017 Variable dimensions. vinyl on wall, found objects, painted baseball and softball bats, baseball and softball gloves Curveball, 2017, M E N Gallery, New York Courtesy of the artist and Proto Gomez Gallery, New York, © Nick De Pirro
Ksenia M. Soboleva is a Russian-Tatar writer, art historian, and curator specializing in queer art and culture, with a particular focus on lesbian (in)visibility. She received her PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, with a dissertation titled Fragments: Art, AIDS, and lesbian identity in the United States, 1986-1996. Soboleva has curated exhibitions at La MaMa Galleria, Assembly Room, Honey’s, SPRING/BREAK Art Show, Stellar Projects, and 80WSE Project Space. She has taught at NYU and the Cooper Union, and presented her research at various institutions in the United States and abroad. In Fall 2019, Soboleva co-organized the Queering Art History Symposium at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, and in 2020 she co-chaired a panel titled The Return of the Lesbian: Examining Lesbian Visibility in Art History’s Present, Future, and Past at the College Art Association in Chicago. Her writings have appeared in Hyperallergic, the Brooklyn Rail, art-agenda, QED: A Journal in LGBTQ Worldmaking, and various exhibition catalogues. She was the 2020-2021 Marica and Jan Vilcek Curatorial Fellow at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Soboleva is based in New York City. Samantha Nye is a painter, video installation artist and long-term Tori Amos lover living in Philadelphia.For the first decade of her life she was a relatively unsuccessful child model. At five years old she remembers her mother driving her to South Beach casting offices as she energetically rehearsed the line, “Hello, my name is Samantha Nye, and I’m 7 years old... This is my right profile...” She often performed seven. She learned early about performance, identity and class aspiration. Her work reframes seduction through reenactments of 1960s pop culture. Her paintings, videos and installations highlight aging bodies, celebrate queer kinship, and facilitate an intergenerational dialogue about sexuality and pleasure. Samantha currently has her first solo show titled My Heart’s In A Whirl at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, a painting in the group show New Light: Encounters and Connections at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and a video installation at Het HEM in The Netherlands. She was a fellow of the 2014-2015 Queer/Art Mentorship, a 2018 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Traveling Scholar and has exhibited with The Yossi Milo Gallery, The Wallach Gallery, The Leslie-Lohman Museum Project Space and Shelter In Place Gallery. Catalina Schliebener, is a Sudamerican, Chilean-born visual artist who works primarily with collage, installation, and murals, Schliebener’s work draws on images, objects, and narratives associated with childhood and explores gender, sexuality, and class. Their work has been exhibited in Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Santiago, Chile), Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art (New York, NY), Boston Center for the Arts (Boston, MA), Centro Cultural de España (Santiago, Chile), Centro Cultural Recoleta (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Center for Books Arts (New York, NY), Catalyst Arts (Belfast, Northern Ireland), Tiger Strikes Asteroid (Brooklyn, NY), Hache Galería (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Galería Jardín Oculto (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Galería Metropolitana (Santiago, Chile), and Bureau of General Services-Queer Division (New York, NY), among others. A recipient of multiple FONDART Grants (Cultural and Arts Development Fund of the Government of Chile), Schliebener also received grants from DIRAC (Board of Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Relations of Chile) and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (New York, NY). They also received a Queer Artist Fellowship from the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art (2017), and an Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) Fellowship from the Bronx Museum of the Arts (2018). They are currently working as a teaching artist with the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, and facilitates gender and sexuality trainings for the Early Childhood Professional Development Institute at the City University of New York (CUNY). They received a Bachelor of Philosophy and a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the Universidad de Arte y Ciencias Sociales (ARCIS; Santiago, Chile).
Ksenia, Archangelsk, Russia, 1995
Sam, Miami, United States, 1993
Cata, Santiago, Chile, 1997
We would like to express a big thank you to Lu Rose Biltucci, John Chaich, Alexis Clements, Ali Cotterill, Vivian Crockett, Daisy Dead Petals, Jessie Gardner, Natasha Hass, Hache Galería, Ignacio Herbojo, Joseph Imhauser, Michael R. Jackson, Candice Madey, Megan Milks, Yossi Milo, Colette Montoya-Sloan, Adam Liam Rose, Kris Seto, Steph Taylor, Dani Umpi, Emily Wells, all our exbians, and all the Tori fans who have followed this project along the way.
Published on the occasion of:
Dyke Views on Tori March 1 - April 4, 2021
Copyright 2021 Ksenia M. Soboleva Samantha Nye Catalina Schliebener Lyeberry Press Lyeberry Press 250 Greenpoint Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11222 www.lyeberry.com Published by Lyeberry Press Designed by Joseph Imhauser Printed and bound by GHP Media 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ISBN 978-0-9990309-5-0
“Sometimes I think you want me to touch you” I CAN SCREAM AS LOUD AS YOUR LAST ONE
Tori Amos, Little Earthquake, China (1992)