Curatorial Statement

The New Media Artspace Docent Team: Anya Ballantyne, Bryan Campana, Yasmeen Collins, Milli Encarnacion, and Maya Hilbert

“Re:” as regarding (preposition)
regarding the present or another point in time
“Re-” as doing the present again (prefix; modifier for a verb)
redoing or reliving the present in a cyclical fashion
“Re:present” as new normal (noun or adjective)
experiencing a change in our established temporality that challenges our idea of normalcy
“Re:present” as representation (noun)
representations protecting, mediating, and morphing our realities through technology

As we skeptically begin to describe the present as post-pandemic, some rejoice, while others are forced to strip themselves of the filtered self-depiction in which they've found comfort. Encapsulated in time, we try to move forward on a non-linear path full of disparate perspectives. We've embraced newfound abilities to distort our image—our representations of ourselves—whether through a waist-up webcam or a KN95 mask. The past two years linger behind us like protracted shadows at the dawn of a renewed horizon, and when we turn to look back at them, we experience feelings of assimilation or detachment, or both, or neither. Stretching back, our shadows reach farther and farther, reflecting the infinite length of our timelines, which strain to artificially reopen a closed chapter. This renewed normal echoes the old new normal in its disorientation of time and routine. In this "post-pandemic" period, our "now" defines the future, and the future becomes the present. If the pandemic is "post," has the present already happened? If time is relative, and relativity is inherently social, then many of us have missed out on the markers of time's passing during this period of universal isolation. Has this tricked us into thinking a "post" is even possible?

re:present is a sequel of sorts for re:semblance, a summer 2021 group exhibition that explored the then-new normal of physical isolation and digital community. Reopening this conversation, re:present offers a yardstick for just how far we've come. In many ways, re:semblance operated as a time capsule for emotions and self-discovery during the pandemic. Now, we are re-exploring the joys and wounds etched into the past in order to explore the possible future.

The works in re:present deal with the experience of time and self, such as the fabrication of history in Gjerding and Møller's A Piano is Too Heavy to Carry, the body's diurnal cycle in Giri's suryanamaskar, and the persistence of memory in Jones' The Phantom. The exhibition is a winding journey across fragments of reality: as we meander through the works, Jahelková's LOVELOAD sets us afloat in an internet-saturated digital space, Michael's Transcendent Simulator places us on the road to transcendence, and Vereeniging's Land (The Perfect Kiss) V(x)1 grounds us in the cycles of nature. These various perspectives on time and self welcome us to redefine what these concepts mean for us in the present, whenever that may be now.

In A Piano is Too Heavy to Carry, Møller's soundscape and Gjerding's animation build a haunting vision of constructed pasts and imagined futures, a vision that is at once pleasantly domestic and coldly alien. We follow our protagonist through the process of art and history making, gathering and unpacking. When the curtains close and the protagonist walks away from the piano, we are left mourning all that is lost as we carry our arbitrary selection of history through time and space.

In suryanamaskar, rather than forcing a defiance of linearity, Vidya Giri takes the approach of bending to the will of time. She reminds us of the harmony of various asanas with the movement and changing of the day. Through these tumultuous and ever-changing times, Giri makes a point to reconnect herself and the audience with the will of the world and the role we play in all of nature. Her blissful yet authoritative piece evokes a call for acceptance rather than a forceful protest against time.

Jahelková creates a world of overload using animated psychedelic visuals in her work, LOVELOAD. The animation is accompanied by rapid flashes of memes overlaid with text, spoken words, and whispers further adding to the sense of information overload. In the piece, a figure is searching for something across a vast space, and as the video continues to play, the flashing memes, text, and whispers allude to themes of love and religion. LOVELOAD represents the desire to make social connections by navigating a digital world that has become an even more constant part of our lives in the post-pandemic world.

Steph Jones's The Phantom explores gender, self, and how they may materialize in the physical body. In The Phantom, the body is past, present, and future: a cross section of time. Through the use of creative code, the piece accesses viewers' webcams to bring our bodies into this digitally preserved space, generating a uniquely personal scene haunted by restless memories.

In coming undone, Arc records herself as she unravels a crocheted mask and in doing so unravels videos of her childhood that play on loop. As the mask unravels and sounds echo repetitively, coming undone inspires us to think about time, the undoing of time, our control over or lack of control over time, and ways in which we represent ourselves over time.

xXproxyXx by Parker Shatkin is a Tumblr blog protagonized by a preteen girl on the internet. The posts offer us a glimpse into her experiences living in a world where lives are spent fully online. Shatkin invites us to consider how one might transcend the human body in the digital world. If we are not limited by the physicality of our bodies, what would we look like? What would life look like?

Darshika Singh's First Light visualizes perception in a continuously changing world. Singh takes elements of her everyday life combined with digitally generated artworks to expand a fraction of time into a fractal landscape of observation. She asks us to consider how our perception has changed as we navigated life through a pandemic.

In Transcendent Simulator, Michael brings together online responses from Reddit and the video game Truck Simulator to create virtual simulations. The video touches upon fabricated representations of our reality and the ability for us to live and relive those representations virtually through a simulation. Many have increasingly relied on virtual worlds and technology for experiences that were limited to us due to the pandemic. Michael uses virtual simulation to call us to reflect on the way we may connect spiritually through technology.

Tholander's film, They built the widened coral reef, uses disjointed personas, conversations, and timelines to interpret non-linearity and detachment. He brings the audience into a universe where a train moves with magnitude and direction familiar to our natural laws, yet everything else remains unhinged. Tholander uses animation and music to challenge the viewer's paradigm of reality and normalcy.

Vereeniging's Land (The Perfect Kiss) V(x)1 pulls us back to our roots with a homage to soil. Vereeniging uses hypnotic repetition to display the infinite grandeur of nature, capturing millenia in a moment: an experience of time which only the most ancient, integral systems of the earth are privy to. Overwhelming and yet profoundly grounding, the film is a dizzying rapture that buries us in the cycle of composition and decomposition. It is an invitation to go outside, both physically and mentally, to reorient ourselves in the present by embracing the land that is our beginning and our end.