1 December 2022 at 11:30:00 pm
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What happens when an artist performs a misdirected truth? How might the public respond to layers of deception in public artworks?
This panel will dig into processes of showcasing artworks as demonstrations within visual culture and arts research. Positioned between critique and parody, Jen Valender, Scotty So and James Little will discuss their use of misdirected unrealism in their art practices. This panel will traverse approaches to virtual performance as artistic resistance: from rewriting history by editing an archive to utilising Zoom for conversational parody and appropriating gallery Instagram feeds. Participants will discuss research into psychological and ethical binds, toxic art world dynamics, the politics of censorship, and making artworks that sit between physical and simulated reality.
This could really be it: a constructed interview with Slavoj Žižek
Through projection installation, Valender interviews her unofficial mentor philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Žižek (she uninvited, he unaware). Titled, This could really be it, the artwork utilises Zoom as an outlet for digital puppetry and socially distanced conversational parody.
Using snippets from online lectures, the conversation is collaged together from found recordings. To each question, an answer is derived using Žižek’s own cut-up process. The result is a self-projected soliloquy, in which the artist connects reflexivity with the materiality of projection, linking the optical experience of projection installation with psychological projection. In doing so, both Žižek and Valender become materialised into the medium as intertextual disembodied dialogue and images. Interview-performance will be explored further as a framework to house institutional critique and to put copyright, digital authenticity, academic authority, knowledge transactions and unsolicited practice into question.
Time Traveling on Wikipedia
This is an ongoing project of So’s that involves the act of making images which replicate different eras authentically by introducing them onto different Wikipedia pages as “authentic” images for academic purposes. It has been continuing since 2019 when So began to question the realness in drag practice, asking: “If I can be as real as I can be and no one can clock it, does it mean I am authentic?” He then went into research and replicated costumes of different eras from the late Qing Dynasty 1860s to the present time to dress up as women of these different eras and create “vintage” photos. The photos later were uploaded on Wikipedia pages with matching captions. Some of the images were then identified to be “fake” but some of them were considered as “real” and were used and shared on other websites and media including news, scholars’ articles and Twitter, and even sold as vintage prints on eBay. These images are continuing to grow through the internet with alterations beyond his control.
How to unintentionally use satire when you're trying to make it big in the arts
In the bubbling soup of online spaces, where contexts and headlines are compressed into byte sized bites for consumption, what happens to an artists practice and career when a majority of their artwork is seen and engaged with online? If being viewed on Instagram generates the most “hits,” does that context transform from being a surrogate or paregonal experience to becoming the authentic way to view an artist's artwork? I argue that indeed it can—sometimes. Using satire paired with the philosophical ideas around disinformation, this presentation looks at how I have explored using photoshop and 3D modelling programs to hijack existing gallery spaces around the world and inject my work into them as “authentic” exhibitions. This has prompted a few questions: what happens when you are viewed as being successful online as an artist? How has this impacted my own art making processes and how has this changed how audiences engaged with my work? Can I pilfer from the political, economic legacy, prestige and career opportunities that galleries offer without stepping foot in them physically?
Jen Valender is an Australasian artist born in Aotearoa New Zealand and based in Naarm Melbourne. Her practice cross-pollinates with photography, moving image, projection, sound and sculpture. Grounded in the cinematic, Jen is inspired by wit, conceptual paradoxes, ethical positions colliding and a resolute blurring of the art/life dichotomy. Jen has exhibited in galleries and public spaces in Australia, France, South Africa and Portugal. She holds an MFA (Research) from the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, and a BFA (Visual Arts) from Monash University. Website: https://jenvalender.com
Scotty So is a Melbourne based artist who works across media, using painting, photography, sculptures, site-responsive installation, videos and drag performance. Driven by the thrill of camp, he explores the often-contradictory relationship between humour and sincerity within lived experience. Born and raised in Hong Kong, So graduated with BFA Honours at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia, 2019. So’s work has been shown in Hong Kong, China and Australia. Scotty So is represented by MARS Gallery in Australia. Website: https://www.scottyso.com
James Little is a Melbourne based artist who has exhibited extensively in Melbourne and Sydney, including SPRING 1883, Cement Fondu, Alaska Projects, La Trobe Art Institute and Artereal. Little is a co-founder and director of Nicholas Projects, a curated space in Melbourne from 2015–2018. He completed a BFA (Visual Art) at RMIT in 2012. Little’s practice can be described as a Venn diagram where authentic and artificial concepts meet. Artwork: westspace.org a recreation of westspace.org.au