Wednesday, November 22
Art

Constructive Notes on Context-less Visual Culture

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PART 1:

I used to think of digital space as a simulation. It didn’t really exist, it wasn’t really there.

It was reflective of the physical: mirror like, but there was a reason why I called it virtual.

Making art in digital space was a tactic to protect my work from the limitations of physical context and art history.

Historically speaking: I saw very little space for myself in the art world (as I think is common among artists of colour).

Images of women like me are fetishised and overpowered by the voyeurism of white male colonial fantasy: Gaugin, the figure of the odalisque.

Art by women like me is continually attached to a byline that reads: ASIAN FEMALE ARTIST.

I’m not simply an artist, my identity is always carried first and my status as an art-maker is an appendage.

Digital space is synthetic, but reflective. It’s a simulation, but a simulation is imitative of what it’s pretending to be.

My point is: there is no such thing as perfectly impartial, context-less space.

I can never fully remove my work from the canon of historical representation.

My identity will always be a context. A synthetic space is never perfect. A simulation isn’t detached.

This realisation was so depressing, I used to feel safe knowing that I was in control of my representation and I’M NOT.

YOU NEVER ARE.

PART 2:

The White Cube format is, at its base, a suburban bourgeois interior.

The Viewer is a sovereign spectator.

Institutions should never act as automatic visibility.

There is always a gaze hitting you and your work.

WHO ARE YOU VISIBLE TO?

What gaze are you trying to please?

The White Cube of gallery-modal art viewing is supposed to be context-less.

It is not.

The internet has taught me that nothing is ever free of context.

If there is no such thing as impartial space, what does that say about the white cube?

If there is context, we must ask ourselves whose frame of reference the gallery format is situated in.

Who is the white cube for, and who does it exclude?

It is fundamentally a question of visibility: who is visible, and who is invisible?

Who are you making yourself visible to?

If I am making art that is not free of context, if I am making art that others consistently attached to my contextual identity, what then?

How can I put my work in a pristine space?

How can I put my work in a vacuum?

Art space functions in a specific way according to a mode of viewing that is conformative.

Art space functions in such a way to influence how viewers behold the images in front of them.

Who am I visible to?

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