Date: January 4, 2017 Category: ,

Part of the exhibition Quiet Strategies for Survival, Left Gallery, Berlin, Germany, curated by Nora Khan.

In 2016, I was commissioned to produce a series of .gifs for the launch of Left Gallery. The exhibition also included work by shawné michaelain holloway and Ryan Kuo. Curator Nora Khan wrote the below statement about the series:

Alexis Anais Avedisian transmutes the frenetic anxiety over constant surveillance by one’s peers into an expressive practice that is conceptual and poetic. Her body of work forms a studied critique of our work as digital content producers as an inherently debased position. There is a material cost to this war of attrition, in which our identities are compromised by the alliance of corporations and governments. Further, there is a spiritual cost to producing content in an extractive medium, bounded by endless tap-dancing for likes, attention metrics, and a shrinking shelf life. The user censors herself into a tempered neutrality, in order to be seen, considered, made real to others.

Of course, this ‘clean state’ is complicated by ephemeral emotions which are also coded. In Avedisian’s archived, personal archives are minded to reveal truths about their owner. Avedisian transforms buried affective material – all the mess of self-doubt, mild paranoia, melancholic hope – into a moving dream-meditation. The user speaks online out of an exquisite, bittersweet desire to be seen by the fantasy object – themselves an abstraction. Each .gif, tweet, and post becomes a diamond portal of insight on its owner. Being perceived as “authentic” or genuine is nowhere near as important as the daily-renewed performance of self, in hopes of acknowledgement by one person chosen to matter in a nearly-infinite social matrix.

The process of public yearning can paradoxically help the content creator realize herself. She develops herself through creation of a complex and dense archive. Her history is made through a growing relic of thoughts frozen in a server. This reach for intimacy, despite the fractured mediation of platforms, eventually allows the user to reflect carefully on her impulses and choices. The archive is never neutral or clean; it is charged with the entirety of the self. The personal archive may be mutable and in most cases, unseen and forgotten, but the creator is irrevocably changed and deepened through its creation.