MOTEL SISTERS SO21 INTERVIEW by Amy Thomson de Zylva

by tammy brennan |

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How did you two first begin collaborating? You both have your own multi-media practices, how do they fit together?

We met at University and clicked through our shared sense of humour, love of satire (first and foremostly of ourselves), our love for living in Western Sydney and our fascination with the cut-price interpretation of celebrity culture within contemporary suburban life. We also shared the anxiety as fresh out of Uni young artists based in Western Sydney, who were attending the big city openings and intimidating art scene. Throw it all together with a couple of blonde wigs and that was the start of the Motel Sisters.

There are elements of our practices that come into the Motel Sisters, (identity, embrace/ play with obscurity of the familiar) but mostly the process and outcome is separate from our ****practices. The Motel Sisters is often fuelled by making ourselves laugh and poke fun at the world we are living and participating in. It’s allowed us to practice in a way that was parallel but not bound to the narratives in our solo practices.

Is it fabulous to be a Motel Sister? What is your favourite part of being one?

Fabulous is how we want people to feel when we are together. We noticed early on during our guerrilla gate crashing of parties and incidental encounters, that the atmosphere changed when we would engage with people. Everyone is contributing to this moment, being there in character sometimes just acts as a catalyst. People come out of their shell. That’s one of our favourite parts of being the Motel Sisters.

2021 has been a rocky year for the arts and throughout lockdowns online spaces have become increasingly useful. With community engagement as such an important part of your performances, how does the virtual world suit The Motel Sisters?

Like everyone, we have embraced the zoom experience and begun playing with it as our space for interacting with people. So far we’ve collaborated and shared the platform with Club Weld who are a neurodiverse group of musicians and artists. We celebrated RUOK day together by singing along Karaoke style Club Weld music. Again, everyone contributed to the energy with generosity and enthusiasm - which was electric and at times even emotional. We are also hosting a party for Cementa Spirit of 21, through an interactive zoom gathering. The social awkwardness, potential glitches and chance encounters are all part of what we love IRL or offline.

Do I need a secret password to find out about your creative plans for Spirit of 21?

Everyone’s invited! Together we’ll laugh in the face of lockdown cabin fever and embrace our desperate longing for mass gatherings by channelling our cheekiness and frivolity into our screens along with all involved.

Learning about make-up and decoration is often something that moves down the maternal line. Where have your influences come from?

Paris Hilton and all the celebs that have graced the cover of magazines at the supermarket checkout. Drag Queens and any other group of humans who embrace and celebrate their identity by wearing something with meaning or as an act of celebration. Also, anyone who has ever tried a new cosmetic or accessory and reminded themselves how cute they are… That’s very Motel Sisters.

In media ‘makeovers’ along with the tools used to give one – makeup, glitter and decorative clothing – are usually portrayed as hyper-feminine. However, queer spaces like that of drag culture have been pushing this boundary for a long time. Are makeovers for everybody?

Yes, they really are. The common misconception is that makeovers are for changing yourself, but makeovers at their best, are about connecting with who you are - and celebrating it. This is inclusive of all gender experiences, at any age and no matter where you exist. You can do it alone or share this with someone - like a best friend. Also, it doesn’t have to be a physical adaptation or even a big change. It might be taking small steps for embracing positive change in your life. We’re here to grow.

What has been your favourite creative outlet during lockdown?

Dancing in the kitchen/ garage/ studio with headphones on and pretending to be at a rave party. Then the rest of the time just following our cats around and doing whatever they’re doing. They know where it’s at.

Written by Amy Thomson de Zylva, an arts worker and writer based on Gadigal land with an interest in emergent forms of photography and time-based work. Amy holds her Honours in Art History at the University of Sydney where she is currently completing a Masters of Art Curating.

MOTEL SISTERS SO21 INTERVIEW by Amy Thomson de Zylva
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Cementa Inc. acknowledges the Wiradjuri people as the Traditional Custodians of the Country upon which we live, learn and work. We honour their Ancestors and pay our deepest respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Cementa Inc is generously supported by the NSW Government Create NSW