Disconnected Selves and Malleable Forms: Video Screening
Curated by Dawn Woolley
How can the self be narrated? What does it mean to be (dis)connected, fractured, transformed, metamorphosed? These key questions of the conference also shaped the selection criteria for the videos selected for the screening. In a variety of different ways the videos aim to bring to light the complexity of contemporary identity formation that is subject to transformation, disconnection, and construction. The body, mind, and identity of an individual are both fragile and infinitely malleable. Some of the videos question what it means to be an individual in a contemporary culture characterised by global commercialism and virtual mass-communication. For others the corporeal body, as a site for transformation, expression, and control takes centre stage. I would like to thank the Unstitute for their ideas and suggestions during the selection process.
Artist Statements and Biographies
Biocca is a visual artist living and working in Amsterdam and Berlin, where she runs the project space www.jollyjokeramsterdam.com with Elisabeth Reitmeier and Benedikt Hipp. Recently her work has been shown at LISTE, Basel, Jeanine Hofland, Amsterdam, Greengrassi, London, Le Foyer, Zurich, PSM, Berlin, Shenzhen III Animation Biennial, Frutta, Rome. She layers imagery from cartoons and science fiction, often depicting human brutality from a wide variety of historic and cultural sources. This grotesque synthesis produces a sense of frustration and schadenfreude. The animation SUPERMARKET (2014) shows a variety of objects travelling along a conveyor belt in a supermarket. There is not much narrative development and no climax. It goes on and on suggesting endlessly repeated consumption. All of the objects being scanned are virtual/digital imagery and are mostly free ready-to-use materials from the internet. The animation refers to a low-fi animation technic and oscillates between two-dimensional and three-dimensional elements questioning how we visually digest animations and other digital material, relating ourselves to a fictional two- or three-dimensional aesthetic.
Bredenberg works and lives in Tampere, Finland. His works have been exhibited recently in “Luigi Pigorini” Museum in Rome, Or Gallery Berlin, Residency Unlimited in New York and Media Facades Festival in Helsinki. Bredenberg also organises peer-to-peer art education events and art platform Slackerspace. In his works he examines the effects of internet and networked capitalism to economic, political, and social relations. The material he uses are images and texts he finds on online video and photo sharing communities. Overture is an examination of prenatal ultrasound images in an online environment. The work questions the ways children are categorized in these images and what it is like to grow up as a cyborg in a mediated environment where everything is shared.
Lagunas is a New York-based Guatemalan artist. Her work has been exhibited in biennials including Pontevedra, Spain; El Museo del Barrio, NY; Tirana, Albania; and at the Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C.; Bronx Museum; Jersey City Museum; International Festival of Contemporary Arts–City of Women, Slovenia; and cities in the US, Europe, and Latin America. She has received grants from Joan Mitchell Foundation 2014 Painters & Sculptors, Bronx Council On The Arts, Urban Artist Initiative/NYC; and residencies in New York City from El Museo del Barrio, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The Center for Book Arts, and Wave Hill. Her work deals with the condition of woman in contemporary society, questioning her obsessions with body image, beauty, sexuality and aging. Beauty routines of embellishment have been incorporated in our daily lives in such a way that we hardly notice nor question them anymore. Although few women will reach society’s beauty ideals, many will sculpt their bodies as needed. In the video-performance “Para verte mejor” (“The Better to See You With”) Lagunas plays along with women’s beauty rituals, performing them in exaggerated ways to reflect the pressures imposed by today’s society.
McComber completed a Masters degree in Visual and Media Arts at Chelsea College of Art in London, UK (2002). She has since been actively involved in artistic and curatorial projects, focusing on multidisciplinary and collaborative works. Her artwork has been shown in Finland, Russia, Denmark, Colombia, Greece, Equator, Austria, Wales, Spain, France, England, and Scotland as well as in Québec and Canada. She is a founding and active member of L’Araignée, a feminist collective for the dissemination of contemporary art. She lives and works in Montréal. McComber’s work deals with the space we occupy in relation to physical and social boundaries. She is interested in the element out of place, which disturbs regular schemes of expectancy. She uses drawing, photography, video, performance and urban interventions to examine what is desired in relation to what is prescribed; the resurgence of the subjective within the collective. Redefining the boundaries of what is permitted, allowed, or acceptable, the space she works in is set as a serious playground, where constraints are considered and rules reinterpreted.
Isabelle Frances McGuire
McGuire graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016. She negotiates forms of fetishizing within digital communities using video art and performance. Her work has been shown in Chicago, Berlin, Mexico, Montreal, and Vienna. Working primarily in video and performance, she examines cultures of niche fetishes and how they reflect norms/repressions within social ideas of sexuality. Her work points to contradictions in relation to feminism and pornography. She says ‘With my camera, I control your gaze. I want to ask you, who is being objectified? But that feels banal. I’d rather spend our time sharing erotica with you’. She continues ‘Our digital material is killing itself. Updates continuously extinct content and software. People are the archivist of their image and aesthetics are being genetically modified or cloned. What does it mean to fetishize a body that participates in a suicidal infrastructure?’
Menegon (1988, Italy) is a new media and visual artist, performer, programmer and teacher assistant. Since 2010 she has worked with Stefano D’Alessio (1987, Italy) creating interactive performances and installations, combining visuals, sound, physical computing, and performances. Her work deals with the instability and ephemerality of the human body as well as the alienation from physicality in today’s digital age, questioning the gap between real and virtual, flesh and data. As CGI shapes our view of the physical world, virtual representation of reality shifts from the mirror to the projection. The body, shared through different realities, transforms through the confrontation with the image of oneself and stimulates a construction of new physical states and levels of conscious awareness. This confrontation and dialogue between physical and virtual body cannot result in an equivalence or unity of the two, but can establish a relationship between them. Menegon’s works are mainly interactive or multimedia installations that create a dialogue between the physical and the digital, a reflection on what is the body after it has been transferred into a virtual state.
Merimaa (born in Pori Finland 1983, lives and works in Helsinki) is an artist focusing on moving image and video installation. He has graduated from Tampere University of Applied Sciences in 2007 and finished his MFA in Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki in 2013. He has also participated in residencies such as Changdong National Art Studios in Seoul South-Korea (2009), Ox-Bow, Saugatuck, MI, Usa (2010), Cité des Arts in Paris, France (2011) and Residency Unlimited in New York, US. His works are included in the collections of Helsinki City Art Museum and Kiasma Museum Contemporary Art in Helsinki. In addition to his own artistic work Merimaa runs a window gallery called Alkovi in Helsinki. His videos deal with the merging of the common and the subjective; how personal experiences co-exist with the media culture and how reality is conceptualized through visual imagery. Nonchalant 1/Pier presents a scene of a young men’s sauna night in a Finnish summer cabin. Friendship between men holds in sometimes even a violent physicality and a weird preferring of the illusion of indifference. However, there is always some sort of feeling of togetherness and a wordless agreement of camaraderie in an essence of the relationship.
Glorious Leader of Gash Land, World Famous Artiste, Fist-Queen, Flabzilla and Pervert-Siren Kayleigh O’Keefe is a London-based artist working in live art and film to engage with sexuality, body acceptance, and non-assimiliationist social assertion. She has performed and screened internationally at arts, queer, niche and mainstream events. O’ Keefe uses humour and the absurd to connect with diverse audiences. Employing open nudity and the raw physicality of her fat body she aims to provoke, express, and challenge her audience. As Krissy Mahan says ‘In a world where art is more a commodity than a site of public engagement and critique, O’Keefe ‘holds our feet to the fire’ (or wherever she’d like them to be) with brilliant humor’ (dykeumentary.com, 2015)
Payne is a visual artist based in Melbourne. In 2016 she completed a Masters of Research at RMIT University, where she currently teaches digital art. Payne has also completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts at Melbourne University in 2010 and an Honours of Fine Arts at RMIT University in 2011. Her project Womanhours asks how many hours does it take to be a woman? Advertising’s ‘Glossy Magazine Girl’ – plucked, waxed, purged and bleached – has intervened in women’s relationships to their bodies. Though women’s bodies that have passed through these cosmetic rituals are abundant in advertising, they are not witnessed labouring to produce this effect. What is seen instead is a singular and controlled perspective, a magical product naturalized by the advertisement’s frame. The aim of the Womanhours project, which include Brazillian Wax and SKINNYFAT is to turn the power of the lens against itself: the labour of plucking, waxing, purging and bleaching, usually hidden from view, are presented for all to see.
The Unstitute is an Evolving Interactive Environment. The Unstitute is a free movement. What drives The Unstitute to offer artists a place to exhibit their output free of charge, on goodwill or enthusiasm alone? Good question. Let’s look at it this way: connecting together with other artists, creating dialogues and micro-communities across disparate sites in a rhizomatic fashion on a global level releases potential opportunities that only a group functioning all together can manage cooperatively. A place for mutual and self-respect in the networked age. The project ‘The Flies’ commenced as a video response to Sartre’s play of the same title. What we get in the play are the two outcomes of an action; remorseful Electra who succumbs to the furies/flies, and Orestes, who affirms his action through his own morality: “There’s no power to make me atone for an act I don’t regard as a crime”. As in ‘Meta Morph’ through the expression of Ressentiment (remorse) and denial the mouth awakens and becomes a negating mechanism, an insatiable chasm into which the world around it is sucked in, silencing it.