The name Salome Salvi may be just a pseudonym, but it's one of the most well-known on Filipino Twitter. Known for posting not just nudes, but also erotic art, Salome has racked up almost 24 thousand followers on her Twitter account, and that count is growing by the day. Here, we chat with the artist to talk about her exhibitionism, the alter community, and her creative process.
HerStyleAsia: How did you take on this persona and start making erotic art?
Salome Salvi: Taking nude photos of myself has been a source of affirmation for a long time for me. I have a long history of self-hatred directed towards my looks; with the benefit of hindsight, I know now that my hatred was irrational. I believe that seeing my body through a camera lens, as opposed to seeing it with my naked eyes, has helped dispel that.
That is the main utility of my nude photos: they are a crutch for my self-esteem. Their usefulness as such deepened when I started posting them on my alter account on Twitter. For context, the alter community on Twitter is where anonymous users can post their own nudes and amateur pornography, and consume others’. On Twitter, my nude photos became a source of external validation and an expression of my exhibitionism, my kink.
I started incorporating my nudes into artwork because of the need to remain anonymous; backgrounds and faces have to be obscured or painted over for security. I have always been artistically inclined, and my need to express myself creatively bleeds into other aspects of my life, even in the mundane task of making lewd content of myself. There are always opportunities to release art into the world, and I have taken this one to develop my personal aesthetic and to reach a state of catharsis.
HSA: How different are you from your internet persona?
SS: I go by a pseudonym online, and that’s about it. I am as obnoxious, depressed, and sexually charged in person as I am as Salome Salvi.
HSA: What’s your creative process like?
SS: My artworks are collages that frame my nude body, and in those collages I combine textures, digital glitches, photos, and blocks of text to tell stories about the forces I struggle with. Each element that I incorporate into a collage is a facet of a concept I want to explore, a part of a memory that I want to make sense of, or a demon I want to exorcize. The process of making each artwork is often painful for me, but I see it as necessary for my growth.
My sexuality and my struggles with my self-image are topics I often ruminate upon in my art. I use the collages to give such context to the self-portraits that I take. My pieces are windows to how I see my body and myself at that moment in time.
What are you trying to say with your art? How do your works add to the conversation on sex and the body?
I am influenced by media considered to be low art: exploitation film, hardcore pornography, vaporwave, kitsch, glitch art, internet memes. There is a purpose to their vulgarity, and I have always been concerned with trying to see beauty, profundity, social commentary, and skill behind such output. I consider my art to be degenerate and pornographic, but I aim to challenge its viewers to look beyond its obscenity to see the raw emotion it is just juxtaposed against.
Through the smut I produce, I like to challenge its consumers to reflect upon their voyeurism, and how it can affect me and the women who are objects of their gaze. Being naked on and off-camera is second nature to me; I am no longer disturbed by nudity and overt sexuality. In a way, I would like to impart that destigmatization to my audience. I try to do so by visually assaulting them with my nakedness and the loudness of my aesthetic. Through such a liberating viewing process, I hope to help free them of the prejudice and the disgust that inhibits them from connecting with the objects of their gaze on a level that’s deeper than sexual. Many women are at the receiving end of this dismissiveness, and I want to reference that struggle in my work.
I consider each of my artworks to be a step towards self-acceptance, and by displaying my nude form with all its flaws, I invite viewers to participate in that journey. Through my own body, I would like to show that the female form has a purpose that transcends objectification. Every female body is weathered by time and built by experience, just like mine.
I also aim for my audience to understand sex as a complex, multifaceted, and often flawed human experience. It is intertextual, and it is a culmination of both beautiful and traumatic memories. By framing my nude photos with intricate digital collages, I hope to express that intertextuality.
HSA: What inspires you?
SS: Other erotic artworks and other self-portraits inspire me! I love the process of examining such art for clues about the artist’s self-perception, how they contend with their own sexuality, and how sexuality is viewed in the time and place in which the artwork is made. Iespecially like seeing how other alters style their nudes; it’s a very intimate and illuminating viewing experience.
Vaporwave art is also one of my biggest influences. Its medium as a genre born on the internet and its irreverence is emblematic of the evolving purpose of art. There is a demand for art to be more accessible, more interactive, and more accurately reflective of the social and political climate. I believe that vaporwave art steps up to that plate, and because of that I closely associate myself with the movement.
HSA: How you deal with online do harassment? Have you had issues with censorship?
SS: I have accepted harassment as a result of my output, especially since I am making art as a response to an already misogynistic environment. I see harassment as a result of entitlement, and in turn, I try to assert my personal agency and independence. I try to help detractors be more empathetic towards the purpose of my nudity. However, i often succumb to my temperamentality, wherein I simply block the offending party and move on.
Thankfully, I have not experienced much censorship because I try to be wise about where I release my artwork. In the few instances that I fall victim to censorship, I revel because it means that my work has fulfilled its duty to provoke and offend.
HSA: What are some misconceptions about the alter community that you want to dispel? What is it about the Twitter alter community that drew you to it in particular?
SS: What I want the most is for people to understand the circumstances that gave birth to the alter community. Its existence is a response to the sexual repression that women and the LGBTQ+ community face, brought on by a heteronormative, patriarchal society. the need for a supportive community wouldn’t have arisen if queer and female sexuality wasn’t constantly invalidated or othered.
I chose Twitter as my platform because of its lack of censorship of NSFW content. Because of this leniency, Twitter is where the alter community (made up mostly of gay men) has been flourishing long before I chanced upon it. I wanted to live in a space with like-minded people who experienced the same oppression. I wanted to take part in a movement that was fluid enough to be accepting of a form of artistic and sexual expression that I can call my own.
Every day, I am thankful that the alter community and I have found each other.
(All images courtesy of the artist)