Handle With Care

2015

Buffalo, New York

Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Arts Center

Interactive Installation + Video Performances

 

"I object, to being told what I am. I object, to being told how I feel. I object, to being told that nothing can be done, that it is what it is. I object, to being told to just accept it. I object, to being told to just move on. I object, to being told I am fragile. I, OBJECT."

 

Much like the rest of this exhibition, the phrase I object holds multiple meanings. It is not simply an objection. It is not merely a protest – but a statement: I, object. At a time when online personas are intrinsically tied to our personal identity formation – I’ve begun to question the very relationship between the digital and corporeal body. As online platforms continue to encourage and at times almost beg for our participation – self-identity is deeply ingrained with imagery of the body; and as such flattened, embedded, and shared self-images. As Martin Jay reiterates in his book Downcast Eyes, “You are the only one who can never see yourself except as an image; you never see your eyes unless they are dulled by the gaze they rest upon the mirror or lens.... even and especially for your own body, you are condemned to the repertoire of its images.”

 

This exhibition, however, does not only question mediated identity formation – it also questions the relationship between you and your cell phone. As digital technology is increasingly integrated into daily life – it’s important to stop and consider the relationships we foster with the devices that we intimately keep with us at all times; the very devices that act as a conduit for our consumption of digital information. For me, my cell phone maintains an almost parasitic contact with my body. If it is not in my hands, it is in my pants pocket, tightly pressed against me. Even at night, it lies next to me, as we both sleep and recharge – so to speak.  

 

Handle With Care provides a performative space for users to reflect on their intimate practices of imagery possession. There is a close connection we feel to the images captured by our personal electronic devices. We keep these images on hard drives for years – rarely ever going back to “re-live” moments seemingly important enough to eternally record. This form of digital hoarding is one of the elements at stake in this exhibition. Once archived onto the user’s personal device, these performances are accessible at any time, and in any space. In a sense, the performances are integrated into the external memory of the user for an infinite amount of time – permanently saved to the hard drive or cloud – unless purposefully erased from the memory.

Video Documentation

Artist Talk

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© 2020 LIZ BAYAN