Kristin McIver: Status Quo

WHERE:  James Makin Gallery, Melbourne

WHEN:  May 16 – June 8, 2013

For more information visit:   www.jamesmakingallery.com

Status Quo explores the notion of identity as commodity. The exhibition continues McIver’s exploration of consumer identity in the era of hyper-capitalism. The work in the exhibition (predominantly in neon, steel and concrete), transposes digital subject matter into physical objects to highlight the tangible economic value placed on our thoughts and desires.

With Status Quo, McIver explores how social media has both redefined the way we connect, and reshaped our identity. It provided us unlimited access to information and freedom to connect. However this state of freedom comes at a price – social media opens up disturbing new channels for advertising, surveillance, data collection and trading. Our “status updates” translate into profit for the corporations who systematically collate our digital desires and sell them back to us. We ourselves have become commodities with enormous exchange value. Every thought or conversation we willingly post online is stored in huge data banks, forever, often sold on to advertisers for large sums of money. But what, or who, exactly are they buying?

Works such as Thought Piece borrow language from the seemingly innocuous status prompts of applications such as Facebook and Pinterest. On entering the darkened space, the viewer encounters a series of darkened neon sculptures, whose illuminated phrases spring to life automatically via motion sensor to confront the viewer with a barrage of inscessant questions – “what’s on your mind?”, “how are you feeling?”, “what’s happening?”, “how’s it going?”. The insistence of these questions takes them beyond mere greetings, to a more pressing query. The sense of surveillance is heightened through motion sensor activation, to create an almost sinister inquiry. The persistent questions rendered in cold neon make us aware of our own thoughts, desires and emotions – and their attempted extraction.

As the viewer approaches the sculptural intervention they encounter a mass of concrete paving stones, which as close inspection reveals, are inscribed on the visible side with “public” thoughts, and on the underside with “private thoughts”. The phrases highlight the disparity between our online portrayal of self, and how this highly edited representation of self hides our inner (true) self from public view. Perhaps the knowledge that we are being surveilled encourages a fabricated identity, making it difficult to ascertain who we really are. Thought Piece blurs the distinction between public and private self. In Thought Piece, each thought, whether public or private, is for sale.

By extracting from the digital to provide physical form, Status Quo hauntingly confronts the viewer, raising questions about the authenticity of our online identity, and its gross commoditisation. Status Quo questions the ownership of your thoughts once they are uploaded to the web. And more importantly, who are we exactly, as our sense of self is confused between our public representation and that of our inner self. We have become a fractured version of ourselves, existing in a duality as both data and DNA.

Brief Biography

Kristin McIver is an Australian artist whose practice includes sculpture, painting and installation. Utilising materials such as neon and acrylic, McIver’s works explore the themes of desire and aspiration prevalent in our hyper-consumer culture. Through her work, the artist aims to break down the illusions of commodity aesthetics. She is currently undertaking a Master of Fine Arts (Visual Arts) at the Victorian College of the Arts.

Last year McIver won the inaugural Melbourne Sculpture Prize 2012. Her work has been selected as finalist in a number of awards and residencies, including the Melbourne Sculpture Prize (2012), Montalto Sculpture Prize (2009/2010), Substation Contemporary Art Prize (2011), and 3rd Ward’s Summer Open Call in New York (2010).

McIver is developing an international profile with an exhibition California at Royale Projects, Palm Springs, California (USA) in 2013, and she will undertake a residency in June/July at the OMI International Arts Centre in Ghent New York (USA) http://www.artomi.org.

McIver is represented by James Makin Gallery in Victoria, her work is held in the NGV collection and private collections in Victoria, New South Wales, Perth, Singapore and the UK.

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