Constructed entirely of synthetic materials, the works included in The Butterfly Reprise function both as fully realized individual pieces and as a cohesive statement touching on a range of universal human experiences including fantasy, displaced desire, romance and delusion. In contrast with these ageold sentiments that have inspired artists throughout history, Salama’s work also hones in on the very contemporary dilemma of digital convenience creating a new kind of loneliness that no previous generation has grappled with. The Butterfly Reprise is rich with these simultaneous parallels and paradoxes: the back and forth between materiality and painterliness, the computer and the wall, and specifically the use of manufactured, mass produced materials to convey deeply personal, private, and unique experiences.
Perhaps the most prominent paradox set forth in this body of work is power vs. vulnerability, delineated through the reoccuring butterfly motif. In her process of melting, pouring and moulding plastics and rubber through the use of heat, a technique that is paradoxically both harsh and gentle, she leaves behind what could be seen as a ghostly remnant of her own body. In an essay on Salama’s work, critic Laura Warman writes, “There is a body behind the work. She is there. She is a she. She emerges from the latex. The pieces are formed through Cecilia’s body, releasing. She is in control, but she is not the center. She pours and swirls the materials, they come in contact with her body and are released…” Much in the same way, Salama recalls a butterfly absorbing heat from her hand in the poem above from which The Butterfly Reprise takes it’s title.
In her video piece Together Again, Salama shifts her focus to a pubescent female gymnast, who acts as a vessel for further examination of the push and pull of power versus vulnerability, a common thread throughout this body of work. The footage of the young girl, spliced into and over images of synthetic pastel amalgamations, can be seen as blatant objectification and appropriation of childhood, but when viewed through a different lens may be seen as a reclamation of the teenage girl, as Warman writes, “centering and desexualization of bodily power… This is the teenage girl if we allow ourselves to value her.” Cecilia Salama has presented her work in several solo exhibitions at venues including Art Baby Gallery, The Java Project, and Rice University, in addition to numerous group shows at venues including Regina Rex, Greenpoint Terminal Gallery, Good Work Gallery, Transfer Gallery, Anna Jill Lüpertz Gallery, and SoHo House. She received her BA from Brown University. She lives and works in New York, NY.