INTERVIEW: CHLOE WALLACE
July 28th, 2020
Interview by Victoria Campa · Photo by Chloe Wallace
Chloe Wallace is a Spanish-American filmmaker and photographer whose work celebrates popcorn, femininity, and going against the grain. She directed Shura’s “religion” music video, her narrative short film recently premiered at the Palm Springs Film Festival, and she writes a newsletter sharing notes, videos, and photos of her signature flaming red hair. She talks to us about finding comfort in Harry Potter, the trouble with sitting with ourselves, and the importance of being alone in a crowd.
How are you staying creative?
I cringe when I read on people’s Instagram that this is the perfect opportunity to be creative! Make things! Finish those projects! How is one supposed to feel renewed if we are stuck in the same place, day after day? Creativity has definitely been more difficult to access. I barely go outside, I avoid daily walks as they make me feel more anxious than relaxed. I have always gotten my creative spark from the outside, from other people, other things, not by myself, sitting on the sofa. I am aware of how bitter this sounds, but I’ve pushed myself to find other ways of feeling creative. I haven’t made bread (yet) but I’ve cooked a lot, and that’s made me feel good. I’ve tried to access my usual creativity through reading and watching movies and TV, which has helped. Mostly reading has inspired my writing. But I haven’t taken interesting photographs or made any films or videos. That seems hard. So for now I’ll stick to writing, I think.
What revelations or realizations have you had about yourself or your life during this time?
Isolation has forced me to sit with myself, which I’ve found is incredibly uncomfortable for me. I love self-reflecting; it means to dream, to think, to explore what my head is going through. But, sitting with myself feels different from self-reflecting, though I know for some, the words might be synonyms. To sit with myself means no escape, no other, no newness to distract myself with. No new ideas, no dreaming. I’ve realized that when I’m distracted, I don’t get to think about myself and the little things I hate, whereas sitting with myself allows me to control the only thing I can: me. My body. The things I am not doing. Which is counter productive and mostly painful. But through sitting with myself I’ve also found I’ve gotten to know myself more, [to learn] what I return to when things get hard, which allows me to work on it, understand it, and maybe, be less judgemental, more gentle and empathetic. that is definitely a hopeful revelation.
Tell us about art (books, movies, music, etc.) that you have discovered or revisited during this time.
I just finished Jia Tolentino’s "Trick Mirror", which is just so fucking great. I have no idea why it took me so long to pick it up - I think I was waiting for a "better" moment, but I’m so glad I read it. It is so good. I found myself wanting to highlight so many sentences and passages, but I didn’t have a pencil with me (maybe for the best) so I’ll just have to re-read it soon. In terms of movies and TV, I’m rewatching "Girls", about to start the sixth season which I don’t think I ever saw, so it’s been fun. The first two seasons are brilliant, so raw and unfiltered. The last movie I saw was "Sicario" by Denis Villenueve. I’m also rewatching "The Sopranos" and all of the "Harry Potter" movies. Pure joy.
Is there a particular favorite piece of work you like to reference during difficult moments, such as this one?
I like re-reading poetry or short stories by Lydia Davis or Frank O’Hara. Or listening to David Bowie. There’s no particular thing I return to as there is so much I love. But probably the thing I return to when I’m feeling lonely, or sad, or need to reconnect with some part of myself, is what I mentioned in the previous answer: "Harry Potter". It never fails me.
What are some silver linings that you've encountered during this time?
The first: that art matters. So much. Right now, everyone is consuming it some way or another. Media matters. So the career I chose, though it isn’t saving the world, might be helping to heal, whether people are making art of consuming it. The second: that I can’t wait to be alone again. That I’m okay being alone with other people and I’m craving being surrounded by strangers, by people on the subway or at a coffee shop or at the Whitney. The third: that letting go of plans is okay. That I can learn to be patient, or rather, that I’m already learning to be so.
What routines have kept you grounded?
Therapy is the only thing I’ve kept from “before times”. I still talk to my therapist every Tuesday at noon, and therapy, of course, keeps me sane. A couple weeks ago I also had my usual classes on Zoom from the MFA I just finished. But that has ended as well. So now I’ve found myself with no routine at all, save waking up and getting out of bed. I’ve found it quite hard to stick to a routine: No matter how many schedules I’ve written in my notebook, I can’t seem to stick to them. Maybe not having a routine is what’s keeping me grounded? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure my partner and his cat are what are making the world feel tangible.
What changes do you hope are in store for the post-quarantine world?
Honestly? The list is endless. Mostly, if I’m specific to the U.S., I hope that the healthcare system here changes because it is truly messed up, to the point that it makes me cry. Growing up in Spain and living in London for five years exposed me to good (sometimes flawed, but mostly good) public healthcare systems and in moving to New York I realized how positively spoiled I was in Europe. So if this pandemic doesn’t highlight the need for a much better healthcare system and actually changes it - something we will only get through a much needed change in government - then I don’t know what to hope for in the future.
What has been inspiring you lately?
"Bon Appetit", "The New York Times", newsletters, Twitter, the Kacey Musgrave x Boy Smells candle I bought my boyfriend, the Phoebe Bridgers and Paul Mescal flirtation over the internet, the radio, coffee in the mornings, Joan Didion, the Best New York Accent contest that NYNico did.
This interview is part of a series of conversations with artists discussing their experiences during quarantine.
Victoria Campa grew up in Madrid, Spain, and has traveled around the world with her camera. She mostly lenses women in quiet moments within their environments, and she is interested in exploring the passage of time, strength in vulnerability, and inner lives through stories. She writes a bi-weekly newsletter about art, film, and writing called things to look at. You can explore her work at www.victoriacampa.com