With humour and irreverence, Eva & Franco Mattes have dissected, tested, and redefined the boundaries of the Internet. Since the mid-1990s, the artistic duo has also probed and engaged with the way contemporary societies have shaped the Internet and, conversely, how the Internet has shaped us (people, social relations, and societies). The work of Eva & Franco Mattes is a not-so-pretty mirror image of two generations: those who knew a world before the Internet and digital natives. In that sense, their work engages actively with Internet content, practices such as life sharing, and our feelings and reactions as we watch and share in our online world.
This exhibition at the Phi Foundation welcomes audiences with two works examining the feelings and reactions towards what we, as Internet users, do online. My Generation (2010) consists of a series of online videos of gamers experiencing crises and violent outbursts as they lose a game. Emily’s Video (2012) presents 20 minutes of online viewers’ reactions to a video that we cannot see but which seems as though it must be quite shocking.
This show also includes Riccardo Uncut, a recent work in which the artists push life sharing to the next level. To create this piece, the artists bought a stranger’s cellular phone for $1,000 and transformed the phone’s photos and videos into a slideshow. Presented as a video installation, the work becomes a portrait of Riccardo—the phone’s former owner—over the years 2004 to 2017.
This exhibition includes works that engage with Internet content such as Ceiling Cat (2016), a sculpture based on a popular LOLcats meme of a cat peeking through a hole in a ceiling. In the artists’ words, Ceiling Cat is like the Internet itself: “both cute and scary at the same time”—a tension evident here and in other works in this part of the exhibition. More scary than funny, perhaps, is the work Abuse Standards Violations (2016), a set of panels examining the moderation guidelines of Facebook and Google, and Dark Content (2015), a series of video installations in which computer-generated avatars recount the stories of human beings working as Internet content moderators.
This exhibition invites audiences across generations to see others and to see themselves through the works of Eva & Franco Mattes.
Curated by: Erandy Vergara
Eva & Franco Mattes (b. 1976, Italy) live and work in New York. Their work has been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; the 20th Biennale of Sydney; the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels; Performa, New York; MoMA PS1, New York; the New Museum, New York; the NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC], Tokyo; Manifesta 4, Frankfurt; and the Venice Biennale. Their work Ceiling Cat was recently included in the collection of SFMOMA, San Francisco.
Erandy Vergara curates, investigates, reads, and writes about contemporary and media art. Her main research interests include feminism, global art histories, curatorial studies, and postcolonialism, with a particular interest in remix cultures, the strengths and downfalls of science and technology, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, and the ethics and aesthetics of participation. She earned an MA at Concordia University and a PhD in art history at McGill University. Recent shows include: Speculative Cultures: A Virtual Reality Art Exhibition, curated with Tina Sauerländer (Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery, Parsons School of Design, New York, 2019) and Art et intelligence artificielle: Explorations artistiques à Montréal (Printemps numérique, Montréal, 2019).
Image: Eva & Franco Mattes, BEFNOED, 2016. Video, screen, custom wall bracket, various cables, variable dimensions. Exhibition view, Carroll/Fletcher, London, England
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