Tom Smith's first video piece titled Siren Song was shot in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina Brazil and at the Vidigal beach in Rio de Janeiro. The piece stars Tom’s drag alter ego, Tamala, a space age, plastic-clad diva who lip syncs to abstracted pop music. During his artist residency at Largo das Artes in Rio, Tom’s work blended archetypes such as mermaids, sirens and the sea goddess Iemanjá. Tom’s residency concluded with a live performance by the artist as Tamala in the gallery space of Largo das Artes.
“The coast of Brazil is surreal, to me it seems like another planet. I wanted to use that environment as a space for my character to show up. In New York I created the costume for Tamala out of plastic and rubber. I don’t speak portuguese so I chose to give my siren an ethereal, intangible voice. I started thinking about the long history in drag of lip syncing to a female vocalist. I thought before that there was an interesting similarity between the sirens and drag queens, in that their songs are a false promise. In the end, it’s all about being in a game of seduction and representation.”