West Hollywood, California has undergone constant change since long before the Internet of Everything, and it is about to reinvent part of itself again on Holloway and Sunset with the brand new Nomad Gallery and its premiere exhibition by artist Rabi (b. 1984 David Emanuel Mordechai Torres).
And who better to contemplate the complexity of the modern world?
“There are images that come together as a whole, but the main idea is that the look of the piece is constantly changing, in the same way that life is constantly evolving,” he said to us in an interview 10 years ago this fall when he was still part of the art collective CYRCLE – echoing a perspective he carries today.
As Millennials are being edged out of that desired youthful demographic by the next generation of consumers, there appears to be a reckoning with the loss of citizenry, civility, privacy, the regard for pillars that once provided strong institutions; On a personal level the meaning of existence may still be clouded by perceptions about life that were filtered through the ever-present smartphone, and warped by developing technologies. With the metaphor of the firehouse, many describe a flow of data so overwhelming and confusing that, if unedited or uncontrolled can breed a semi-permanent state of confusion. A show like this countenances that reality and suggests that one can at least begin to make storylines with it.
It’s a crisis for many. When we used our community-based art project called BSA to bring you the CYRCLE project over a decade ago – it was a collaborative of three artists, then two, then one. Maybe it is simply young people discovering their own voices. But looking at people sitting at restaurant dinner tables staring at their phones, one may wonder if this generation is separating into individual molecules, feeling disconnected by their digital experiences, rather than grounded by them?
It is an irony that the ‘Me’ generation of the 70s and 80s appear to not have anticipated this, so self-actualized were they. It is as if the last 20 years drank a cocktail of steroids and MDMA; seduced by the endorphin explosions in brains fried by social platforms. Increasingly targeted content meant that “individuality” and individually tailored preference took firm root, and grew; on music videos, in gaming, at Cosplay conventions, at awards shows and even New York’s Met Ball. The coveted 18-34 age group were courted with greater precision than ever; a beguiling romance with self-expression became weaponized, an arms race of stunning individuality, brandished with “authenticity”.
Powered by a strange identity-based militarism that allies with all things good, and its now nearly a constitutional birthright to be uniquely amazing. Any remaining norms of yesteryear are eschewed, melting away like a polar ice cap, in pursuit of the new normal. “Group individuality”; the Metaverse will allow you to be a human, animal, or a coconut cookie. It’s American exceptionalism writ global, and perhaps Rabi is encouraging you to be brave for this new world that is so boldly ushering itself in, blinkering on and off and flooding/tracking your eyes with images, your ears with sound, your heart with envy, fear, lust, relief, or release. Or you may opt to hit the escape button.
“As isolation moved us apart, we retreated deeper into our digital nativity, highlighting our society’s obsession with self-image and the ironically ubiquitous bid for individuality,” says creator and director Rabi. He calls his exhibition “_gen+esc”, an abbreviation of “generation escape”. He’s pushing into video and featuring actors in greenscreen jumpsuits – a jarringly effective yet lo-fi technique that posits a view on internal life, including the storms raging there.
Does Rabi push outside the parameters in this newest exploration? It is described as “a series of short art films that explores the relationship between identity and the artistic process.”
You’ll decide when it opens on September 15. Or stay home, stage selfies, apply filters, and scroll.
Rabi: _gen+esc. Nomad Gallery. West Hollywood, CA. Thursday, September 15, 2022, at 8 pm. Click HERE for further information.
Hold Up Art Gallery Presents: “Cluster Mess” Gosha Levochkin New Works and a Collaboration with Cyrcle (Los Angeles, CA)
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