I'm so pleased to bring you another artist hangout. Ryan wanted to sit on the rooftop where Dan Graham's permanent installation sits. It was beautiful outside and acted as a quiet and private space to sit and talk with artists who chose to be interviewed up there. (It's been sunny during the entire Summer Institute, we're so lucky not to have had any prairie storms!)
At Plug In ICA, Ryan has been thinking about labour in the art world, mediation of the self and participation in social technology, and how all the parts of himself can reconcile. Labour in the art world pertaining to Ryan's experience working as a camboy to pay for an unpaid internship in NYC in 2015 (don't @ me about unpaid internships, they're all types of evil :*| ) and how webcam modelling has been used to support him and his practice. It is through these multi-facets of himself that Ryan has shown interest in the way our "selves" are presented materially and intentionally includes digital presence as a material yet ephemeral form. Engaging with social technologies (such as social media, emailing, phone calls, cam work, etc.) has presented Ryan with different ways of gazing. He talks about it as a method of arranging one's self for consumption. For Ryan social technologies expand the capacity to control the ways in which we are gazed upon and creates more room for active decision making. These are thoughts that we further explore in the interview:
Ryan explained in more detail his interest in the self and self representation by talking about Michel Foucault, a French philosopher and social theorist whose work primarily examined the relationship between knowledge and power. (we LOVE Michel Foucault!) During a previous artist residency in Finland, Ryan read all three volumes of The History of Sexuality and noticed how often Foucault had written the words "silence" and "death". For those who didn't know, Foucault was one of the first queer theorists and talked about queerness, love, and sexuality; he also died of AIDs. After Ryan noted the number of times Foucault wrote "silence" and "death", he made the connection with the use of "SILENCE=DEATH" as part of Gran Fury's campaigns during the AIDs crisis (Gran Fury was a gay design collective working with ACT UP). With this we had a mini rant on the erasure of queer histories, and the liberalizing and white washing of radical thought. I specifically brought up how the Combahee River Collective had coined, for example, identity politics as a way to navigate the way people with structural power have identified marginalized communities and people in order to discriminate, and how Mark Lilla decided to mistranslate it's use and meaning. (article in response to Lilla's op-ed https://newrepublic.com/article/144739/liberals-get-wrong-identity-politics)
Ryan used these examples to describe the need for framing our own and other people's experiences. During the artists presentation, he noted how, "There was so much work [that went] into developing our framework, pressure to select a version of yourself to present to [other] artists", and how this mirror's Foucalt's own struggle for himself, and our own struggles with self identification, how it seems that there is a desire to move beyond this impact and move beyond historical context.
The DIS Summer Institute has been full of interesting and new ideas for Ryan with the lectures, artist talks, and the research he has involved himself in. He thinks about the presented ideas in the seminars and talks about how separated they are from lived experiences. For example the ideas presented by Armen Avanessian and Mahan Moalemi of alternates to time and its linear quality has already existed in societies all around the world pre-contact. He is critical of the presentation of this as new thinking when these ideas have already existed outside of the academic sphere.
Ryan is questioning how the "self" can, if ever be translated through social technology under corporate rule. Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Ryan!
Sun Sign: Pisces