____ (saved for later)
when the curtain rises
concrete, acrylic, collage, matte medium, plastic wrap, chicken wire
Yaannick Val Gesto
print mounted on aluminium-dibond (4mm),
matte finish, wooden frame
120 x 82.5cm
my throat closes when you’re around, think i need a ricola
collage, acrylic, toner, matte medium, enamel, paper,
graphite, spray paint on plywood
in this box i see the world
acrylic, paper, & matte medium on canvas, found objects & concrete molded frame
oil on canvas
Taking its title from an old Notes App entry, "rest my head on a pile of tacks" presents a collection of works from artists Zoe Alameda, Yannick Val Gesto, Thomas Macie, and Bora Akinciturk. The exhibition explores our existence within digital realities with concerns over identity, human error, and various forms of social misery.
There is so much pressure. I'm so tired.
"In this precarious world happiness and fear are oddly joined. People are afraid. “They are afraid,” Adorno claimed, that “they would lose everything, because the only happiness they know even in thought, is to be able to hold on to something. (John Zerzan, “Happiness”, 2011)
Mass society restricts "happiness" to the spheres of consumption and distraction to a great degree." (John Zerzan, “Happiness”, 2011) To this effect, our attention spans are subject to the bombardment of content spewed out both online and in real life. Between buying products or scrolling mindlessly on our devices, attempts to fill emptiness are met with excessive consumption. "_____ (saved for later)" reflects the remnants of our consumption within our culture of waste. Taking shape as a reworked tapestry, the piece organizes a clutter of found material-- ripped plastic bags, an empty Marlboro box, and stained garments to name a few. Unlike the materiality of seeing trash in a physical space, the trash we produce on the internet is unseen with no wreckage to look back on. We exist in a way that digital information can be as easily abandoned as it is created.
One's identity or notion of self can also be abandoned and created online. Away from harsh expectations and burdens of the real world, the internet becomes a place of escape. A place to hide. The choice to remain anonymous or to create an entirely new identity online is completely up to the user. "when the curtain rises" investigates this idea that different versions of ourselves exist on and off-screen. Pasted imagery from parts of internet subcultures and meme culture depict a sense of freedom away from reality. The way we can choose what to reveal about ourselves and what to keep hidden are situated underneath a plastic curtain.
A longing for happiness through digitization is expressed in "Paradise Lost". When it is difficult to connect with the real, tangible world, finding oneself deep in cyberspace feels far more welcoming and non-judgemental. Amid the overwhelming flood of visual information, the web contains hidden treasures; unfiltered forms of creative expression are scattered across social media, videogames, and message boards. Taking a deliberately naive approach to image-making, the piece mimics internet aesthetics and notions of digital obsession in effort to ignore the pain of our physical reality.
"my throat closes when you’re around, think i need a ricola" outlines the discomfort, curiosity, and acknowledgement of the existence of the internet as another part of life. Growing up with unregulated access to the internet, there is a question as to how much of ourselves lie in the digital world. The way in which technology has affected how we see ourselves and experience time is particular to our post-internet era. There is only so much to know about a person online until you actually meet them. Our ability to look back on old digital archives, photos, and posts ultimately influence how we choose to remember things and how we perceive the world as a whole.
"in this box, i see the world" visualizes the internet as a simulation where the line between physical and digital reality is blurred. Designed to be addictive, the digital spaces we indulge in act as a double-edged sword. The way in which we attempt to feel connected with others on the web result in an overload of social media posts and updates. It is increasingly difficult not to compare oneself to others online, as growing amounts of FOMO (fear of missing out) and fear of failure and irrelevance plague our psyche.
As revealed in "Halloween", navigating through endless information and trying to make sense of it is extremely tiring. A collage of apocalyptic themes in both imagery and text reveal the concerns of unforeseen consequences of our obsessive internet consumption. Further, it takes a look into the dislocated worldviews of our generation, portraying little hope for a solution as reinforced by attitudes online.
Adorno, Theodor W, and E F. N. Jephcott. Minima Moralia : Reflections from Damaged Life. London: New Left Books, 1974, p. 39.
Drexler, Kimberly Tyler, "The Hidden Life of Trash: An Examination of the Landfill by Six Contemporary Artists" (2015). DickinsonCollege Honors Theses. Paper 192.
Odell, Jenny. How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy. Melville House, 2021.
Pettman, Dominic. “Memetic Desire: Twenty Theses on Posthumanism, Political Affect, and Proliferation.” Post Memes: Seizing the Memes of Production, edited by Alfie Bown and Dan Bristow, Punctum Books, 2019, pp. 25–30.
Zerzan, John. “Happiness.” The Anarchist Library, 2011, theanarchistlibrary.org/library/john-zerzan-happiness.