Through a set of artistic proposals and a fictional conversation, this publication explores the ways in which individual and collective identities manifest and reconfigure themselves in the digital age and the health crisis.
This publication follows the group show Persona Everyware, which was held in 2020 at Le Lait art centre in Albi. It opened on 7 February, but was closed in mid-March because of the lockdown associated with the coronavirus crisis. It then re-opened from early June to 20 September. Its title conjures by the mask in ancient theatre and analytical psychology based on the social networks, as many new connected scenes and communities.
During its conception, we were far from imagining that current events would magnify certain aspects of it, in particular the way in which the digital technologies have profoundly re-configured our relation to ourselves and to others, our individual and collective methods of communication and existence, and our grasp of data, as well as their circulation and use—not to say manipulation. We were far from imagining that a new mask, gradually imposed on one and all in the same way as "protective measures", would transform the landscape of our faces and "disfigure" the public place where bodies and identities play and interact day in day out. Already at work, physical distancing and telecommunications then replaced presence and contact, jostling our ways of being, here and there, with (and also without) other people.
Just as the exhibition, filled with portraits, was to endow bodily and sensual qualities to the data and affects being forever exchanged on the Internet, this publication hopes to travel in your hands and throb in your fingers. Made up of specific contributions by artists which more or less directly echo the works on view and a "masquerade" in the form of a fictitious chat orchestrated by the curators, it sees itself not so much documenting the show as proposing a new incarnation and complexion of it.
Raphaël Brunel, Antoine Marchand et Anne-Lou Vicente
Many artists, who are keenly aware of the place occupied in contemporary life by the digital technologies, the development of artificial intelligenceand the use of social networks, are exploring the challenges of these new communication tools and practices.
By increasing the amount of apparatus connected to our disposition, ubiquitous computer technology, or 'everyware' (a contraction of everywhere and hard/software), to borrow Adam Greenfield's term, has made it easier for all of us to have access to information and data, everywhere and all the time. Everyware has also played a part in speeding up the transmission and distribution of texts, images, and videos of a more or less personal nature. It makes it possible to express an opinion, exchange views, and criticize, as well, in a certain way, as "printing" the movements of society. The huge volume of data exchanged on a daily basis thus traces a media- and "infosphere-"related environment, whose intensity is forever influencing and reconfiguring our realities and our identities.
The artists in the exhibition Persona Everyware appropriate and handle this mass of data and affects, work with (and at times against) them, try and make them (in)visible, and restore a voice and a physical presence to contents that are too often regarded as immaterial. What is involved, for them, is lending perspective to the aesthetic, poetic and performative potential of our everyday interactions. In dealing with the Internet, and with the social networks in particular, as much as an arena of a subjective mode of expression or a form of 'self-writing' as a public space and a stage, they question the relations that the individual has with his own image and society. Subtle relations are thus made between an "I" and a "we", which are being constantly reconfigured in relation to each other. From this theatrum mundi, which is in a total state of flux and staked out by screens, there emerge here and there the masked faces of one or two personae, through which the intimate and the collective, the private and the public, reality and fiction, and sensibility and technology overlap and merge.
Published following the eponymous exhibition at Le Lait, Le Lait, Albi, in 2020.
Edited by Anne-Lou Vicente and Raphaël Brunel.
Text by Raphaël Brunel, Antoine Marchand et Anne-Lou Vicente ; interventions artistiques de Pedro Barateiro, Émilie Brout & Maxime Marion, Guillaume Constantin, Kevin Desbouis, Eleni Kamma, Anouk Kruithof, Ingrid Luche.