‘Me Time’, showing at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Ainslie + Gorman Art Centre, transports a concerning obsession with the digital world into the three-dimensional reality of a gallery space. What role does art play in a world where a well curated feed trumps the intellectuality of historical art-making processes? Curated by Sabrina Baker, the exhibition focuses on the challenges artists face in mirroring millennial and online cultures born through platforms like tumblr and instagram – an obsession with flat, digital images and celebrity teeters on the boarder of being both narcissistic and psychotic.
Artists Tully Arnot, Grace K Blake, Benjamin Forster, Claudia Greathead, Anna May Kirk, Janis Lejins, Claudia Nicholson and Giselle Stanborough explore this strange paradigm in this group show comprised of sculpture and two-dimensional image works, which ridicule youth cultures fascination with a lifestyle spent entirely online. With a new generation of technology to play with, these artists hold their selfie sticks in the audiences direction, challenging the digital image as something that is self-made and consumed, in an attempt to force their audience to contemplate the greater ramifications of their cyber profiles.
It’s been two years since Richard Prince’s screen-grab shots of instagram-celebrities, models and musicians fetched upwards of $100,000 at auction, and yet the public’s fascination with their social media profiles has only since intensified. Even mega-brand Gucci, adopted a social media savvy campaign to market their latest range of luxury watches when they enlisted several meme creators to subvert their campaign images into easy to communicate social media posts. Baker draws on this crazy world of millennial influenced art by curating a space that showcases electronic installations, such as a printer reproducing Justin Beiber’s tweets, in combination with traditional mediums of work such as paintings, which become equally as subversive when representing a Tinder users dating profile. With her lens finely focused on exposing the blurred boundaries between our digital and physical ‘profiles’, Baker collaborates with these artists to re-think how digital culture is influencing life and art during the 21st century.
Specific artworks in the exhibit focus on the potential for social media updates to unleash a human-technology hybrid. Kirk’s Alice (Human Unit), an amalgamation of selfie-sticks, iPhones and digital image, explores this haunting premise by foreboding a future of the human race in which our facial features are shared equally between the natural and artificial, as a compilation of our social media feeds. Joining Kirk’s representation of self, Claudia Nicholson focuses on curating the perfect selfie, in a series of video works titled New World Order that combine images of the artist with digital gifs and music that give her art a dual sense of futurism and nostalgia. Through these works, the artist explores the modern politics of Columbian culture and her own heritage as a Columbian-born Australian. Baker uses this combination of the personal and impersonal, to offer an evocative response to the rapid evolution of the social-media age.
Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Gorman Arts Centre
Until 24 June, 2017
Australian Capital Territory