Monday, April 25, 2011

The Talent Show

The issues of fame and voyeurism have always been part of our society, but what has happened in this digital age of easy access and continual information? It seems that everyone wants their privacy but at the same time everyone wants to be famous, there is a contradiction in these behaviors. The exhibition on view from December 12, 2010 to April 4, 2011 at the MoMa PS1 is aptly titled The Talent Show, curated by Peter Eleey, it showcases artists dealing with these themes of exhibition and voyeurism in contemporary society; many concerning the digital age and the effects of web-based social networks on our social interactions. I thought it poignant that upon entering the first room of the exhibition we are greeted by one of Andy Warhol’s screen tests. As I viewed the show, what I found interesting the relationship that emerged between artist, art, participants and audience. How the “participant” (whether he/she is aware of it or not) become part of these artworks and become placed in this gallery context that highlights these issues of privacy and voyeurism.

Whether it be the artist’s own struggle on view for everyone as apparent through Hannah Wilke’s battle with disease in The Intra-Venus Tapes 1990-1993 or whether it is exposing other people’s, as in Amie Siegel in her series My Way (2009), a video of compiled footage from youtube of people singing cover songs; these artworks deal with the issue of self exposure.

Screenshot from My Way 1 (2009)

Image courtesy of Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard

In Shizuka Yokomizo’s series Strangers (1999), subjects are left an anonymous note at their house, asking them to stand in front of their window, indicating a date and time when the photographer will come and take a picture and that is all; there is an interesting relationship created between the photographer and subject, that is then captured by the camera, a tension emerging between personal exhibition and voyeurism. As the wall text indicated: “…blank and searching stares of her participants anticipate the combination of anonymity, desire and exhibition that under girds today’s virtual world”.

Shizuka Yokomizo Stranger 6 (1999)

Image courtesy of

Another work changeling the relationship of artist/viewer is Adrian Piper’s Context #7 (1970) which consists of comments, drawings, and thoughts written by people who attended a show opening in 1970 and were asked to write on this notebook. When viewing this installation I immediately thought of a project that can be related to this exhibition. The Scattered Light Project is collaboration between ROLU design studio from Minneapolis and Brooklyn based artist David Horowitz. This project consists of photography “Assignments” that people are asked to complete, these assignments are written on ROLU’s website and are distributed via email and blogs. Examples of these assignments include "A view of a flat horizon line over land or water” and “"A view of your bedroom laying on your bed". These photographs then are uploaded onto the online gallery and showcased at the Art of This Gallery in Minneapolis.

Scattered Light Project Assignment 2

Image courtesy of ROLU Studio

Both The Talent Show and The Scattered Light Project pose an interesting question: how is our society behaving in this contemporary context? And, how art itself shifting to comment on these behaviors and issues of privacy and authorship? Now that there are means to track and archive our every move through various media formats (video, photo, audio) and make them available immediately to a broad audience through technological means, our sense of privacy and desire to exhibit our selves are highlighted; with these changes in society being archived and at the same time analyzed and brought to light through art, we as an audience become more aware of our own desire of self exhibition.

Cecilia Salinas-Rios

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