There's a really great Basquiat quote that I want tattooed on my forehead specifically for when I go to art openings: "I'm sick of white ppl, white walls, and white wine.” This show was white ppl, pink walls, and pink wine. Also a tonne of pink screens, pink tables, pink globes, fake fingers, glitter, bejewelled USBs, iPhones in plant pots…
There are a lot of questions preoccupying me about my own practice, and I brought them all with me to this show. Like screens as Windows into an Other space like Foucault's heterotopia; like paintings used to be before abstraction and modernism; Gab said something really great about how screens need their own modernism like paintings did and I like that. Like how do multiple video pieces inhabit the same room, the same space and not speak over each other (because rainbows are nice but when you mix all those colours together they go brown or grey a horrible sludgy colour. And I think that's what happens when you don't really think about multiple sounds in singular space.) Like how do you make the transition from your laptop screen to a gallery? Everything makes sense for me when I'm on premiere; I just hit export. It's when I'm in the S-P-A-C-E that I find problems. Like ppl just wanna walk past videos, they aren't arresting in the same way that big paintings are. They are linear in a way images typically aren’t. No matter how much you reject discernible narrative there is always a timeline of pictoral events. How do I force engagement? How do I stop ppl from dropping in and out? Is that even a problem? Is that a valid way of viewing video works? Specifically my own? Like notions of self as digital image, as avatar, as performative alter ego, as my very own Sasha Fierce.
All this baggage, all these questions, I threw them at this show. And whether that was fair or not, I'm just not sure. But there's a kind of 'opposite to what I was expecting' that happened. I read the press release and it likened Molly Soda to Tracey Emin (a comparison I thought was clumsy). I read this on the Facebook event page a few weeks ago and in that comparison I fully expected linear, discernible meaning. I expected statement jewellery art. The kind of work you can decipher. Although I don't think the work made the full transition from URL to IRL successfully (something was left behind but I can't put my finger on what), I can't say I fully deciphered it. I was expecting polemicism or something didactic, and it wasn't. It was something that was thrown at me that I couldn't quite digest (Molly, if u r reading this, this is such a good thing it really is. For me this is aspirational.)
This brings me to another round of questions (of course) related to my own preoccupations and my own practice. How do you reconcile singular meaning in autonomous form without it being polemic or didactic, rather something new entirely? There is something mimetic going on within the space of a lip-sync (a form I frequently use and abuse) but is contemplating that in a rehash of lip-sync formats worth it, just because you present it to me in the context of a gallery? Is the lip sync really at that stage that we can consider it a ready-made? and Why why why QHY am I so so not there for female artists using internal domestic bedroom settings as a backdrop for their work? (To be fair to Molly, we spoke to her about this and she said it was a literal relationship, a depiction of the artist in studio. It's just that her studio also happened to be her bedroom. Ignore me I'm just cynical because of Jerry Saltz so ignore me here).
This is really long now. I'm glad you made it to the end and you get a special thank you for reading this long list of questions to the end. But I do need to finalise my thoughts on this show. And for me, it wasn't quite It. Maybe it's because I brought a whole bunch of my own worries to the show. Maybe it’s just because I was preoccupied. Maybe I'm cynical about 'doing it for the aesthetic' being enough as substantial meaning. That must be it. I can't flaw Molly Soda as an aesthetic athlete. Gab took a picture of the free Evian next to the pot plant and we both laughed. (Gab was more forgiving and she sent over this comment about it later: “It was generous of Molly to integrate the Instagrammable. She gave presents/investments to her network of users/exhibition visitors who would Instagram the show themselves, rake up like$/currency/capital and grow the show’s economy.”)
But I think it's the same situation I was left in after the Hannah Black show: I was expecting things because I was familiar with the artist's work, and maybe that's my fault.
But although the show left me wanting more, it also left me thinking about it. It was close to my heart (a lil diddy bit) and my art (a lot, it made me think thru my own work on the tube back) and I truly do wanna put emphasis on that. I always, always in my mind want to make the kind of work that makes you stop. I want to make work that is arresting. That makes you pull out your phone and plop it on Instagram, that you take a selfie in front of. I want my work to look good with a filter on it as well as in real life. Molly's show did that. I thought about it and chewed it over for hours afterwards, and I'll think about what Molly did with the space when I put my own work in Spaces. And maybe that's subjective, it's relative to me and my own practice, and maybe it should stay that way and I shouldn't be telling you. But I am, I think it's worth mentioning, and I don't care.