Meet Molly Surno

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Born in California, Molly creates physical experiences that connect people to their own bodies and the “communal body.” So whether she is working as the Director of Partnerships at Splacer or composing a sound sculpture for BAM, her work is always about the human form and how it generates tension and unity when sharing space. Her works has exhibited internationally at the Essl Museum, Salzburg Museum of Modern Art, Suzanne Geiss, and Anat Ebgi Galery. She is also the founder and director of Cinema 16, which pairs contemporary musicians with experimental films.

on her morning routine

I love rituals although I rarely adhere to them. The current one I am going with: wake up, resist looking at my phone, brush my teeth, scrape my tongue, wash my face with either CeraVe or baking soda, moisturize with Linne facial oil, and apply Dr. Hauschka Summer Impressions Bronze Fluid. If I'm feeling ambitious I will make yogurt with fruit and honey or do some stretching. I go to Variety every morning before work for the best iced coffee in town.

on starting her career

My art career has taken many different forms, but I would say what unites them is creating physical experiences that connect people to their own bodies and the “communal body.”  This has taken many forms: my series Cinema 16 or my sound choreography at BAM, We of Me.  These ideas are influenced by the traditions of social sculpture, happenings, séances, and rituals, among other things. I use film, sound, performance, sculpture, and photography as a launching point to explore genre, the psycho sexual, the fragmented body, gender, and ritual.

on one of her favorite projects

For BAM, I handmade hairbrushes filled with microphones and choreographed a one-hour sound piece with 20 male performers. In the middle, my collaborator Brian Chase, drummer for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and I did a live mix in the middle. This piece was so much about the collective experience of listening, how sound affects our bodies, how touch and watching people being touched [affects our bodies]—there’s a very physical component.

Molly's favorite books

Molly's favorite books

Michael Taussig’s “Beauty and the Beast” is my new favorite text, essentially about the nature of beauty and the grotesque. Does all beauty end in tragedy? Taussig is an anthropologist at Columbia and uses case studies in Colombia where he compares plastic surgery cases, the aesthetics of narcotrafficing, and the reconstructive surgery of high profile drug criminals.
— on her favorite book
Molly's Ceramic

on her current job role

I work as the Director of Partnerships for Splacer, which means I get to talk to the most interesting people, organizations, collectives, and help them figure out how to reimagine space for any sort of creative activation. Social space and how people congregate in present time is always a driving force in my work. At Splacer I get to reimagine space as it relates to a variety of gatherings. Working with so many different types of people, I get to help conceptualize, execute, curate, and contribute to the culture of the site by programming really remarkable social gatherings. So far I’ve gotten to collaborate with everyone from the Criterion Collection to Van Alen Institute.

on her style and shopping habits

Ultimately I am a creature of convenience, so I generally choose a handful of places that I commit to on and offline. These days I love Staud clothing based in LA, online shop LisaSaysGah, American Apparel, Trademark, and American Two Shot. So many of my friends have incredible style and they inspire me constantly: Sarah Kuhn, Gaby Ron, Jasmine Pasquill to name a few.

I try to mix it up: a combination of 60s French New Wave, with 70s Southwest desert, beach girl, and old fashioned maiden. Cher has become somewhat of a style icon to me, which is birthed out of my obsession with extremely long hair, as evident in my art.


Molly's Favorite Records
Neil Young’s On the Beach has sort of carried me through my teens and into adult life. The sounds are really silky and haunting. They remind of a Los Angeles that I was too young to ever know, simultaneously betraying and full of promise.
— on her favorite record
Molly's favorite makeup

on her skincare routine

I like to think of myself as pretty low maintenance but I am sure that's a total self distortion. In the last two years I have gotten really into skin care and do a facial every two months. I wash my face day and night with something super gentle and moisturize with Linné Botanical Skincare Facial Oil, which is all organic botanical products. Once a week I use the Christine Chin Hydration Mask (also when I fly). It's really important to keep hydrated especially in such a congested city like New York. I also recommend Aesop Parsley Seed Facial Cleansing Oil, MD Solar Sciences Mineral Crème Broad SpectrumMalin + Goetz Eucalyptus DeodorantMedline Remedy Phytoplex Hydrating Cleansing Foam, and Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream.

on her beauty routine

I recommend Lancôme Le Stylo Waterproof EyelinerMaybelline Eye Studio Brow Drama, and Chanel Lip Color.

on her haircare routine

I've been trying to grow out my hair for years and take it really seriously. Every morning I take Biotin and rub coconut oil into the ends of my hair. I wash it once a week with Pureology, which I actually learned about from Passerbuys! Also I try to do a conditioning treatment once a month and dust off the dead ends.

Dress, Staud

Molly's favorite skincare
One of my favorite beauty tips is washing your face with baking soda once a week. It’s sort of a natural scrub and evens out your skin tone. Of course, water and sleep are better than anything you can buy. Threading only on your face— best shape for your brows and doesn’t pull at your skin. (Warning: extreme discomfort)
— molly's beauty tip

molly's favorite books

Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity by David Lynch, Hollywood Babylon II by Kenneth Anger, Poems by Yvonne Rainer, Criterion Designs, Beauty and the Beast by Michael Taussig, The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante

molly's favorite records

Peggy Sue by Buddy Holly, Dub Housing by Pere Ubu, Suicide by Martin Rev & Alan Vega, On the Beach by Neil Young

molly's favorite movies

Harold and Maude, Moonstruck, 3 Women, Persona

molly's favorite places in nyc

Threading: Amazing Eyebrows on 331 Graham Ave

Coffee: Variety

Acupuncture: Sherry Chang in Williamsburg

Facial: Christine Chin

Salon V for Collagen Conditioning Treatment

For amazing food, Eastwood, Speedy Romeo as an alternative to Roberta's, for a food/wine splurge The Four Horsemen

Windowfront art gallery Four A.M

For a special beach: Dead Horse Bay