Name her a mermaid lord, puppet wizard, or punk princess—Cissi Efraimsson is many magical beings in a single. Oscillating between artwork, movie and music, she’s the primary animator to anthropomorphize salmon sushi. Drawn to sea dwellers, her new movie imagines salty mermaids in captivity, every of them hand-crafted and scripted by the artist. Cissi can be a lead member of the loveable Swedish punk band, Vulkano, and her ceramic sculptures really feel like movie stills—the life she breathes into her work is fantastically relatable and really supernatural.
Kristin Farr: Inform me about Sea Angels.
Cissi Efraimsson: It’s a brief movie in cease movement, a mockumentary following three mermaids from totally different generations. It takes place sooner or later, the place mermaids out of the blue begin to seem alongside the coast, and the people are, like, “Oh my god, they’re actual!” The mermaids have been hiding all these years, however due to air pollution, they’ll’t keep within the ocean anymore. They arrive as much as the shore, and it’s complete chaos. Some folks love them, and a few need to eat them; it turns into a factor with mermaid meat and mermaid eggs. And there are nature activists and protestors who need to save the mermaids! So that they lastly get shelter and meals in a pool in LA the place they reside from then on.
My story takes place 20 years after that’s all occurred. They’ve been there a very long time, and there are youthful mermaids who’ve by no means seen the ocean, and who’re completely humanized. The pool has turn out to be like a Sea World the place people will pay to occasion with the mermaids or see them do methods. A number of the older mermaids are, like, “Fuck you, man,” and lots of them are alcoholics. It’s a complete world.
What’s a mermaid’s drink of selection?
One of many essential mermaids solely drinks beer. It’s simply beer and cigarettes.
Do you write all of your movies’ scripts? And the place do you discover the voice actors?
I write all the pieces. I’m from Sweden the place there’s a really stunning, previous swim home with stunning work on the wall, and I believed mermaids may reside there. That’s how I began fantasizing about this world, after which I got here to LA, wrote all of it down, and began sculpting and creating.
Some actors are my buddies and a few I discovered on-line. It’s enjoyable as a result of they’re performing and singing, and I got here up with a mermaid language. I wished them to have one other mom time reference, so that they’re performing conventional mermaid songs that I wrote.
Inform me about your band, Vulkano. How do you describe your music, and do you make all of the movies and visuals?
We name it princess punk. Recorded, it has extra of a poppy vibe, however in case you see us play reside, it’s extra uncooked and punky, playful with an ’80s vibe. I make many of the movies, however for the album we launched a number of months in the past, we wished to make a video for each track. I’ve buddies who’re animators, so I requested six buddies to make movies, and I made 5, and we launched them on VHS!
Everybody has to discover a VCR.
I do know. Together with me! The extra I make artwork and music, I turn out to be allergic to computer systems. I simply take all the pieces as analog as I can.
There’s a lot hand-sculpting in your movies. Do you retain the puppets?
I’ll maintain the most recent ones as a result of they’re made with an excellent materials that gained’t be disgusting. After I’ve labored in clay, the figures look so cute and I need to maintain them, however they’re too gross. After animating, the puppets often look form of shitty. In Sea Angels, I used silicone, so that they’ll be preserved somewhat higher.
Inform me extra about casting the mermaids with silicone.
Silicone simply appears to be like so good for the mermaids. It appears to be like like pores and skin. It’s so candy to animate with as a result of you may construct a wire armature inside, and if you make the mould, you may’t even inform there’s one thing inside. It additionally made sense due to how shimmery it’s, if you would like the fishy look. Completely different supplies make sense for every undertaking, relying on the character and concept.
What do you’re keen on about being a puppet wizard?
I really made extra live-action brief movies a few years in the past, and it was at all times such a problem. I at all times have a selected concept of how I would like issues to look, and in case you don’t have a giant funds, it’s onerous to try this in reside motion as a result of all the pieces is bigger! However with cease movement, you are able to do all the pieces by yourself, and it’s a lot smaller, so it doesn’t price as a lot. The one factor it prices is time. It’s incredible to have the ability to create these worlds.
I see lots of fountains and boats in your work.
I wasn’t conscious of it at first, however I began to see a sample and thought, wait a minute—all the pieces I make is simply water! I don’t have any water indicators in my horoscope, however virtually everybody round me is a water signal. And I at all times must swim lots. I’m going to the Korean spa alone as a result of I’m so earthy and fiery and ethereal, so I simply want that ingredient of water. I feel it’s additionally soothing for me to work with water.
Sounds such as you would possibly really be a mermaid. Can we speak about your movie, Rawmance, with the sushi? Was that actual salmon?
I really like sushi, and I used to be pondering, what if the rice and the salmon had been in a relationship? What would they speak about? What would that relationship appear to be? Is it actually honest that the salmon is on the highest on a regular basis? Certainly one of my favourite issues to do is to write down dialogue, and it’s virtually like I turn out to be an actor once I’m writing. I actually go into the character and borrow conversations from my very own relationships and life, however I’m twisting them. I’m by no means making reasonable tales, it’s at all times supernatural indirectly.
Sure, it was actual salmon. I purchased a package deal of sushi and thought, okay, I’ve to animate this quick! It was all achieved in a single take, however I really did change out the salmon as soon as, in the midst of filming, when it was hiding behind the rice as a result of it turned actually disgusting. In case you contact a uncooked piece of fish for lengthy sufficient, it would begin dissolving and turn out to be scaly. So bizarre.
That’s dedication. I cherished your Dinner Celebration sculpture within the latest group present the place we met at Chandran Gallery. Was that from a movie? One determine has an oyster face.
That was only a sculpture, however a number of the characters come and go. I wished to create this dinner scene I’d been drawing. It unfolded whereas I used to be making it, however I wished this absurd, magical occasion. We’ve dinner day-after-day often, it’s one thing mundane, however I wished to place these fascinating characters collectively and take into consideration their dialogue and the way they play collectively.
Do you will have a dream undertaking or has it already occurred?
It will be actually enjoyable to make a sculpture backyard.
What’s a mermaid’s favourite sweet?
It will be some seaweed-flavored, candy onerous sweet.
Search for Sea Angels at worldwide movie festivals later this 12 months. This interview was initially printed in our Summer 2023 Quarterly.