Purple Art

[April 4 2017]

Cecilia Salama “Partner Work” at 315 Gallery, New York

Cecilia Salama explores our cultural relationship with orca whales in her latest exhibition “Partner Work”. Specifically she investigates the bond between the killer whales and their trainers in captivity. These wild animals suffer greatly in theme parks like Seaworld, but Salama recognizes that trainers act from a place of love within the oppression. This is exasperated by the commodification of orca whales as entertainment.

The exhibition includes paraphernalia such as stickers and thumb drives which promote the cuteness of the animals. The color scheme and inclusion of cheap accessories gives an infantilized female tone to the exhibition. The killer whales become romantic symbols, intelligent friends rather than powerful beasts of the seas. Silicon second skins are suspended from the ceiling of the exhibition, isolated by alluringly tactile, teasing the inversion of something majestic and otherworldly into something dominated and molded into a pleasure object.

“Partner Work” positions skin as a surface for love and fantasy. The way that youth invests objects with love as a safe way to understand what love is. The objectification of orca whales is a sad testament of marketing love for profit and manipulating dreams for connection into oppression.

she inserts the speculum and then leaves the room
she touches me with sterile gloves
she makes me kiss with tongue
spin in a circle
dance with others
pushes into me further when i tell her to stop
how did it feel
to tell someone, a stranger
how did it feel
when they said what you have been unable (for so many years)
how did it feel
when she
said, “thank you for sharing”

I love you but I don’t know how to love

“Partner Work” is on view until April 14th at 315 Gallery, 312 Livingston St, New York. 25% of sales from the exhibition will be given to The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

Text and photo Elise Gallant, poem by Cecilia Salama

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