"TO BE ABLE TO IMMERSE MYSELF IN THE CREATIVE PROCESS HELPS ME GET THROUGH A LOT OF THINGS THAT I WOULD NORMALLY COPE WITH IN DESTRUCTIVE WAYS."
Sam ectoplasm is a visual artist that uses a blend of drawing and painting. Born in 1986 in Marseille, France, she grew up doing artistic activities in an artistic family. After studies in visual arts, she moved to Montréal, Canada where she spent nine years improving her craft.
She has had exhibitions in Montréal, New York as well as Dublin. Her artworks are part of the Musée d’art singulier du Québec in Mansonville, Canada. She has been featured in the Beautiful Bizarre magazine exhibition 'Aesthetics' in Vanilla Gallery in Tokyo, Japan. Her works appear in the book Dark and Fetish Art by Japanese editor PIE international, alongside renowned artists such as Zdislaw Beksinski, Hannah Yata, and James Jean. Recently, she has worked on illustrations that will be part of a short film to be released in 2020.
There is not a single doubt that notions of sexual purity tend to mean adding to life through subtraction from life. And Sam precisely does that. Every emotion she manages to project evokes intimacy and how all is intertwined. Sam gives us the sensations that give to human form, not the other way around... where colors classify purity and volume of each desire and feeling. Where the inner flesh is extremely poetic and erotic, dancing with each other to tell the exuberance of their deepest desires -put it any kind of way and you'll revel in the sweet, rich, spicy purity of its vitality.
Listening to her music while observing her art, perfect combination. Full realization of her connectivity. It’s a spiritual connection to all divine. Regardless of your belief system, the connection is there. The visibility of an intangible truth no longer lies dormant. Your senses awaken, your perception somehow sharpens and requests for more…and she delivers, without hesitation. Sam intertwines nature’s purity with the rawest human emotions… and it all adds up, it all makes perfect sense. It’s like somehow you are confronted with what should be…because all along you’ve had it wrong. And it’s okay, it’s never too late. There’s always time to pick up where you left off and start again. Sam’s works of art offers you that fuel so necessary to hold on, to proceed, to let go.
Q. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
A. I remember wanting to be a poet. I don’t think I have really changed my mind about it. I use the means of poetic language to create pictures.
Q. Do you remember the first art you made? What was it and how old were you?
A. I remember making an image half collage, half drawing that depicted a mother beating her daughter with a shoe, age 8. Since the beginning, my drawings are food for therapists.
Q. How and when did you first become seriously interested in art?
A. I’ve always been interested in art but I would say since finishing high school, when I decided to go to university to study visual arts. I’ve learned a thing or two in university but the way teachers wanted to mold students into the official contemporary art esthetically poor and devoid of meaning disgusted me. So, it’s more after moving to Montreal and meeting people in the underground scene that made me take my artistic practice more seriously.
Q. What’s your best childhood memory?
A. The raw smell of cows and warm milk in the countryside.
Q. What have you had to sacrifice for this career?
A. Well, I sacrificed many things, but it's ok because life is just one big sacrifice. Creation and destruction go hand in hand. I don't see art as a career, art for me is more of a medical condition that teaches me spiritual lessons. Ironically, recently I've had to sacrifice my art practice itself to take care of other things and not stressing about it is a great practice of letting go!
Q. Tell us about your particular style and how you came to it?
A. It’s a mix of visceral and ethereal imagery, emotional and instinctual expression with the precision of the mind, it is skin deep and cosmos wide. It represents how I feel, how I want to present myself and which feeling I want to raise in other people’s soul. All pictures are conjuration and invocations, I do them to reflect on issues within my psyche. I’ve always been attracted to drawing, the fragile quality of the paper, like the precision of detail it allows, as well as the subtle blurriness of watercolor. I wanted to develop and play with those intrinsic qualities of the medium, hybridizing traditional graphic techniques. For me, the mix of medium is a visual expression of the dualities and contrast of natural experiences I depict. Finding my style has been a lot of exploration and it’s an ever-evolving process.
Q. Who are your biggest influences? Are you inspired by the work of your peers or anyone else in particular?
A. I’ve got many style influences and references that I won’t list here. But I am forever entitled to any woman artist that has fought interdictions and rejections during centuries to have their say in the production of pictures, which was allowed only to men (in occident though, in native American tribes, women were most likely to be in charge of material culture). I am born out of the wounds of body art women artists, of Marina Abramovic, Ana Mendieta, and Gina Pane. Now, I admire less the virtuosity of the techniques than the flamboyance with which one can harmonize the material everyday life, spirituality and art, like for example Vali Myers, Remedio Varos, Ana Mendieta, Nikki de Saint Phalle, Caroline Dahyot.
Q. What does your art aim to express?
A. It tries to encompass all dualities and make them one. It’s an illustration of the mirroring of macrocosm and microcosm, of above and below. I want to express birthing and dying and all the movements in between.
Q. Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
A. All artists are different but as far as I'm concerned, yes, the artistic life is lonely. In fact, it’s this inherent feeling of loneliness that urged me to express myself, what I feel, in this particular way. If I was able to relate and communicate easily with the human species, I wouldn’t need to create elaborated and complex pictures to reach to others. The paradox is that I found comfort in being alone in my studio, expressing with art this longing for intimacy and belonging. In a way, I feel less lonely when I'm connecting to the collective unconscious through art, than when I'm exchanging small talk at mundane events. Now I'm learning to find the subtle balance between connecting with others and regenerating by myself.
Q. Apart from art, what do you love doing?
A. I like learning and researching different topics, dreaming, walking and biking, doing yoga and meditation, spending time in nature, cooking and making love.
Q. A little bird told us that you are also a musician. Please describe, to us, your sound and style. When and why did you start playing?
A. In the summer of 2017 in Montréal, I had a studio in a desertic industrial area where I could make noise, so I started experimenting with sound. Since I was a teenager, I've always wanted to play and sing, but got paralyzed by the fact that I had no training and I was scared of trying, of being heard and judged. Thanks to friends that lent me instruments, I started improvising and recording jams this summer. Then, I started editing, adding effects and crafting songs on a mixing software (Audition) I've been given. It's like collage technique. I had a collection of songs and decided to group them in a sort of album titled FthIRST. All of them were made really quickly and represent accurately a moment I've lived. The song "born anew" was made in two days in a really difficult time and I am proud that I managed to capture exactly what I was feeling. To be able to immerse myself in the creative process helps me get through a lot of things that I would normally cope with in destructive ways. When I work/play on editing sounds, since I'm learning in the process, I'm only focused on this and I can live inside this bubble for days.
Whereas in drawing, I am really meticulous and in control. With this practice I can let go and experiment as a beginner. It's full of flaws, but I was not very interested in the perfection of it but more with the urgency of the experience. Allowing myself to make noise and sing was challenging and very therapeutic. My sound is really rudimentary, lo-fi and raw, though melodic at times. I compose songs with lyrics so I would say it's like pop meeting grunge or noise. I like loud, heavy music, but I'm not attached to a genre, I am more interested in blending styles. I have recorded some songs with my friend MJAL and I'm looking for playing more with other musicians.
Q. What is your philosophy in matters of art?
A. Never put art on a pedestal: it’s just the altar for the invisible already present.
Q. What does 'success' mean to you?
A. Transmuting everything that happened into experience, wisdom and spiritual growth is success. Every single day I can stay sober and feeling in my integrity is success. Letting go of compulsion, consumption, regrets, and worries is success, and learning to make genuine connections with someone is success.
Q. What are the biggest things you've learned in life thus far?
A. What you try to escape is running behind ready to bite you in the ass: what you face falls to pieces like snow!
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given, and by who?
A. Whitney Lafleur once told me: “Tu peux te retenir de chier aussi longtemps que tu voudras, la marde sentira toujours la marde.”
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation?
A. I’m not fond of giving advice because making mistakes is needed to learn and I feel I'm not in a position to tell anyone how to behave. That would be a piece of advice out of itself! But what I can say from my experience: Forget comparisons, swallow your pride and do shitty artworks until it’s less shitty. Be genuinely nice to other people and stop kissing anyone’s boots to get “plugs” in the art world. Be careful with the time you spend on social media and other distractions. Make your life a work of art and not your work in art your life.