For most of us, the thought of our nude photos getting disseminated on the web fills us with dread. Digital artistMolly Soda, however, saw it an opportunity for a new art project. With her latest collection of photos titled "should i send this" (embedded in the slide-show above), the 26-year-old is finally "leaking" all the NSFW photos she ever debated sending. Soda published the project as a zine on NewHive, a media-sharing platform where she frequently posts her work. With vulnerable texts like "i touched myself and thought about how last night at the party you told me there was a light behind my eyes," she comfortably acknowledges her longing for intimacy, the feminist power of self-portraiture and the inhibitions that can come with sharing online. We chatted with Soda below about her new work..
How did you come up with the idea for this project?
I had been keeping all of these notes on my phone of thoughts and things I wanted to say to people, etcetera. I felt sort of apprehensive about sharing them -- which seemed weird for me since I am known to overshare online. It was a way for me to purge all of those thoughts in order to move on, and a way for me to achieve a new level of open-ness online.
I haven't had sex in 9 months -- I started to think about what would happen if I never was able to feel connected to someone intimately ever again. There's sort of this looming feeling of "dying alone" that starts to happen. I wanted to address that.
Was your intention when you took these photos to send them to a specific person?
I don't send nudes. I haven't sent a nude or a sext since 2012. I take them often -- sometimes when I'm sad, sometimes when I genuinely think I look good and they just sort of sit on my phone and live there until I run out of space and delete them. When I take a nude it is never my intention to send it -- I photograph myself constantly but I'd say I only publish 10% of those photos (nude or not).
The phrase "leaked" suggests these photos are online against your will. How have you leaked your own nudes?
I do think there is a bit of a stigma around using the term "leaked." I think that sensationalizes them. Perhaps the proper term would be "published," but, on the other hand, I had no intention of sharing or sending them to anyone when I took them.
What do you want people to feel when they see these texts and photos?
I published this because I thought people could feel connected to it -- not connected to photos of my naked body but connected to the text and the thoughts expressed through the zine. I think we all have unsent thoughts/images that are just sort of overflowing because of our fear of being too "forward" or "sincere" or "intense." That fear keeps us from sharing.
Do you still identify with the text messages that you have written?
A little bit for sure. I don't always feel so lonely... it comes in waves.
How does this work align with your other pieces and your feminist mission as an artist.
I think any photograph a woman takes of herself is inherently feminist -- she's in control of the way her body is depicted. Selfies are so feminist to me. Any woman "feeling herself" is feminist.
Also as feminists I think we are told to be independent and not to desire romantic love... and that's a lot of societal conditioning to undo. I wanted to sort of address that need for romantic love/intimacy instead of trying to suppress that and feel shameful about it.