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Imagine walking down a gorgeous, glittering, friendly, neon pink corridor that suddenly turns into a dark alley filled with people beating the bejesus out of you. That, in American artist Molly Soda’s world, is how the internet works. The Instamodel-meets-camgirl-meets-artist lives and works online. She creates makeup tutorials, she sings cover songs, she does what people do on the internet. But with Soda, it’s a bait and trap situation. She puts herself out there boldly, nakedly and hairily and waits for the abuse to flood in.
One video work finds Soda doing an eyeshadow tutorial. Hung underneath is a 15-metre-long scroll of every comment the video received. Some are kind, plenty are creepy, but the majority are just plain nasty. Many mention her body hair, her teeth, her face. It’s gross and totally miserable, the ugliest side of internet humanity.
But what makes it shocking isn’t the content, it’s seeing it made real, physical. You can ignore shitty comments on the YouTube video you’re watching, but here it’s an unavoidable, endlessly unfurling ancient scroll of poisonous bile.
It gets even more overbearing with a YouTube video compilation of dozens of girls singing Rihanna’s ‘Stay’, all blasting out at once. It feels like a desperate cry for attention and individuality, a sonic torrent of people saying ‘hey, I’m here, I’m different’, but they all get lost in the great abyss of the internet.
The rest of the show is made up of images pasted onto the wall: cute JPEGs of giggling angels, posed selfies, icons, emails. This is the artist’s own desktop, a physical version of her digital world. Again, Soda is making her private, solitary existence a public spectacle.
Is Soda vain and neurotic? Totally. But we all are. It’s just that instead of hiding her vanity on a hard drive, she is letting it out and allowing the whole internet to tear it apart. And by exposing herself, she’s exposing the rest of us. If you don’t like what you see, you might just be seeing a bit too much of yourself.