Soledad Muñoz: An Artist In Between

1 - photo by Alisha Weng
Soledad [left] hard at work during Sounds at Sunset Session 3 – photo by Alisha Weng
Soledad Muñoz is in her studio when I call. She just has to wrap something up quickly before we do the interview. It’s this kind of diligence which has helped the young artist bring home a few arts awards (see below) and earn a coveted spot at this year’s New Forms Festival, where she will be performing with Vancouver rapper Young Braised (aka Jaymes Bowman, aka her fiancé) and providing the visuals for other artists performing that night, including D?M-FunK and Inga Copeland.

Vancouver Weekly: You were born in Toronto, raised in Chile, now based in Vancouver. Would you say that there are any elements in your work that you consider to be particularly Chilean?

Soledad Muñoz: Well, I was born in my family’s exile, so that was one of the reasons why we were in Canada. I think that, for sure, there’s an element of not belonging to either place. It’s really hard when you’re in Chile, ’cause you’re looked at as a Canadian person, or you look “too North American” for South America; and then you’re in North America, and you’re way “too South American” for North America. So it’s just like, a feeling of not belonging, which is not bad at all. You kind of give up some of that, like, nationalism or identity.

VW: Do you find that that feeling informs your work?

SM: Yeah, absolutely. I understand social constructions a little bit better, because I look at them and I’m like, “Oh, this person’s saying this because of the social patterns that are in this or that society.” So I like sound because it is mostly affective, and it does not have all this social baggage with it. That’s why I love sound, and more so in a deconstructive form, which is the way in which I approach it, like with modular synthesizers and stuff like that that are not so informed by a social norm or whatever.

VW: In 2012 you received the City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Emerging Artist in Craft and Design. Last year was the Emily Carr President’s Media Award for Installation/Interactive Media. How much pressure does this put on you as a young artist? Does it help or does it hinder?

SM: [Pauses] It was really hard for me to understand who I was as an artist. I was always, like, “Oh, I’m a textile artist, or I’m a sound artist, or I’m this, I’m that,” and most recently, I’ve been working with people. I started my own label [Genero Sound]. It’s like a sound project which is focused on the distribution of women’s work. I’m going to be writing for The Mainlander as part of that same project, just talking to women and stuff like that. So people are always like… almost like I betrayed my material practice, by now playing [with sound]… I also started this series called Sounds at Sunset, which was outside of Sunset Terrace, which is my studio, and it was just getting people to play in the back. So I see that as my practice for sure, so…

I don’t know, it’s hard. It’s hard, because I do owe so much to craft and to the craft community. I was nominated by a conglomerate of crafters, so it’s like… that one is kind of heavy. “Oh, I should continue doing craft… but I’m not” [laughs]. But everything is good. The thing that I want is to give women gender and racial and everything equality, and so I feel like I can use myself in order to do that. So any recognition that I get helps, in a way. And I don’t think it is selfish because I’m using it to help other people.