exploring the shifting political, cultural, emotional and digital self
28.11.2017 - 02.12.2017
SomoS is pleased to present Mutable Self, a multimedia group exhibition by SomoS’ current residents Jazmine Yerbury (CAN), Chueh Chiao Han (TWN), and Syed Shoaib Mahmood (IND) and former resident artist Diego Miguel (BRA) exploring the malleability of selfhood in the context of an increasingly technologically regulated world.
The concept of self has struggled to find universal definition as it, in itself, varies with every individual’s interpretation of their own actualities as people find themselves situated within larger social, intellectual, and physical realms. Almost entirely subjective, the conception of self exists in the juncture between both the individual and cooperative perceptions of an individual. Selfness, as it is perpetually defined and then redefined, exists more as an iterative, re-evaluative process than a single concrete entity.
‘Self’ expands and conforms to a variety of situations: one’s political self, social self, intimate self, emotional self, psychological self, artistic self. The versions of both personal and public self that one encounters within a lifetime are infinite. The implications of technology in defining this sense of self dually create a complexity and authenticity that simply could not exist without the access and accountability permitted by the contemporary phenomenon of mechanized globalization. In the exhibition Mutable Self, artists will utilize painting, new media, sculpture techniques to attempt more comprehensively interpret the ever-evolving notion of identity.
Canadian artist Jazmine Yerbury explores the idea of the digital artificial self, combining robotics and squishy, fleshy materials, developing tongue-in-cheek, feelgood personalities for her DIY Artificial Intelligence creations. In one of her two exhibited works, her digital interactive projection installation Glitch Silhouette, Yerbury creates an interactive environment that allows the audience to experience uncanny aspects of digital self representation between performativity, illusion and memory.
The political self in relation to the masses, its fluid state between passive subject and rebellious individuals, and the paradox of self-organization within isolated entities, are themes addressed in Brazilian painter Diego Miguel’s works. Miguel traces the medialization of this new political self as ideologically disembodied entity, activated by affect, grouping and dispersing as unpredictably and irregularly as a swarm.
Featuring expansive canvases, Taiwanese painter Chueh Chiao Han explores the existential tension between desire and the transience of life. Loosely executed and associative, the figurative works reflect shifts in her personal perception, as it has been both reflected by others and more intimately conceived by herself. Chiao Han’s paintings portray the complexity of human relationships, social pressures on the individual, personal insecurities, the need for validation, anxieties, empowerment, attraction. Her Bataillean depiction of desire pushing against the constraints of civilization, presents with a unique imagery that is simultaneously transgressive and innocent.
The conceptual sculptures and text-based works of Syed Shoaib Mahmood question the unstable nature of attraction and beauty itself. In his often volatile installations, the self and its often problematic relation to others is portrayed distorted, mirrored or otherwise fragmented, filtered through various layers of artifice and representation. The unstableness of even the ideal is reflected in a sentence found in one of Mahmood’s text works: “If you look at something beautiful long enough, it may just become ugly.”
Combined, the works in the show reflect different facets of our identities, as they are shaped by our rapidly changing and interconnected contemporary world.
Media artist Jazmine Yerbury is interested in the philosophical and psychological dimensions of our digitalized sense of self. Her background in painting continues to inform her current practice, which is open ended and DIY in nature. Yerbury has a BFA with a specialization in painting and drawing from Concordia University and an MFA from OCAD University, in the Digital Futures program. She is currently living and working in Toronto. Yerbury states that “my work is often self-referential and addresses the medium with which it has been made. I think about how we interact with our digital devices and how we treat them as our slaves. Of course these are inanimate objects, such as smart phones, laptops, VR headsets etc, but when we allow the corporations who manufacture them to dictate how we use technology we miss out on the other aspects of it. My sculptures have quirky, pseudo-personalities which respond to people’s gestures in unpredictable and unique ways. They are very basic in terms of electronics, yet they are responsive enough to give the impression of having some life force. The talk of AI is always about these super high tech sophisticated robots, yet there are these homemade, or low-fi machines which are being made all the time which are in no way useful. I am thinking about the democratization of robots, about giving equal importance to the unusual, less useful and more individualized machines as a reflection on how we treat each other based on our usefulness, skill level and ability to accomplish tasks.”
Born 1989 in Taipei, Chueh Chiao Han works primarily in painting, but also installation, photography and social art. In 2011 she received a B.F.A. in painting, from the Department of Fine Arts, Taipei National University of Arts, Taiwan. Her solo presentations include “Beautiful Agony,” XX space, Seoul, Korea, 2017; “I Couldn’t Say It to Your Face,” SLY gallery, Taipei, Taiwan, 2015. Since 2014 she has presented her work widely in group shows that include Pier-2 Art Center, Koashung, Taiwan; Nomad Museum, Taipei, Taiwan; Luodong Culture Factory, Yilan, Taiwan. “My paintings focus on people, and describe the uneasiness, anxiety, or ecstasy that stem from the human, mostly female, existence in what I hope is an intuitive and straightforward way, “ Chueh Chiao Han explains. “Through constantly observing people around me, the way my body operates, and even more specifically computes emotions, changes; my working process becomes a game of sorts: a balance of observing human existence and creating visual pictures which are both interesting and also reflect the reality of what is necessary to fight against the negative feelings that society can cause.”
Syed Shoaib Mahmood works in mixed media and sculpture. Incorporating language and philosophical queries, his art works serve as visual metaphors for relationships between people. Mahmood is interested in the philosophical aspects of beauty; its effects, paradoxes and ironies, because as, how Mahmood sees it, beauty has the ability to change and interrupt our lives and cause us to reflect–it is ultimately provocative.
Self-taught in art, Syed Shoaib Mahmood has attended a sculpture course at J.J.School Of Arts, Mumbai, India, 2015. In 2015 and 2016 he has participated in group exhibitions at Public Art Exhibit, Mumbai; The J.J. School Of Arts, Mumbai; and The Patna Art Fair, Patna. In 2016 his work was presented in a solo exhibition at The Kings & Queens Gallery, Mumbai. He has worked for two years as an artist and tattoo design consultant for The Kings & Queens Gallery, Bandra, Mumbai. Mahmood has worked on several art commissions from art collectors in Mumbai and Delhi.
Deeply involved in the sociopolitical aspects of our modern lives, Diego Miguel’s art combines found materials and painting. Two main subjects of Miguel’s current work are Social Uprising VS Government Media Control, and the psychological diseases caused by modern life. Born in Brazil and raised in Brooklyn, Diego Miguel has been active as Creative Director, Art Director and Designer for fifteen years. Since March 2016, he has begun a nomadic artistic journey, discovering and being influenced by places and cultures from all over the world such as Ukraine, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Germany to thoroughly explore political art, media and social issues. “My artistic practice analyzes how power affects our subjectivity, subjecting it to law and hegemonic behavior,“ Miguel elaborates. ”The main resources that I use in my work are to analyze and leverage the same resources and techniques used by my object of study. My objective is to raise awareness, and not let the conversation about this historical moment of social uprising fade away. But at the same time, to understand how to navigate a sea of misleading information.”
Mutable Self –
exploring the shifting political, cultural, emotional and digital self
Opening reception: November 28, 6-9pm
Open November 29 – December 2 2017, 2-7pm and by appointment
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Header image: Stefanie Wolff