FROM THE SELF TO THE SELFIE
Ismene Wyss, Erica Scourti, Rob Horning, PWR
Location: Theater Kikker
Self-absorption, self-indulgence, deficient empathic skills are among the symptoms of narcissism syndrome, and many of these can be seen on a regular basis in our newsfeeds, newspapers, or on TV. During the past decade, social media have taken us into uncharted territories of egotistic adulation by enabling everyone to broadcast his or her life and be the star of his or her own 24-hour show: consumers have become both actors and consumable products at once. In our contemporary thinking, authenticity as a virtue is seen as referring to a way of acting that is meaningful in itself and independent of context or consequence to others, suggesting that it doesn’t matter what others think as long as you are true to yourself.
The ideal of authenticity as acting according to your own inner feelings and attitudes breeds self-centred obsession. At the same time, individuals have become more and more anonymous and isolated, thus more anxious about who they are. An anxiety heightened by the multiple possibilities available. This feeds into a never-ending cycle of enthusiasm, appropriation, imitation and exhaustion and leads to an obsession with style that ends in conspicuous consumption among people anxious to objectify their self-identities as authentic individuals who stand out from the masses.
Is this new ‘craving’ for ‘the authentic’ just a reflection of the narcissistic tendencies of contemporary society?
Ruben Jacobs― Moderator
Ruben Jacobs is a freelance writer and lecturer in Cultural Sociology & Philosophy at the Utrecht University of the Arts. In the past he worked as journalist for Dutch public broadcast companies (VPRO, NTR), and recently he completed a fellowship ‘Design and ethics’ at The New Institute in Rotterdam. In 2014 he published his first book ‘Everyone is an artist’ (recently translated in English), in which he explores the current position of the artist in the realm of the creative industries. More information can be found on his website.
Erica Scourti― Artist
Erica Scourti was born in Athens, Greece (1980) and is now based in London and Athens. Her work across different media draws on personal experience to explore life, labour, gender and love in a fully mediated world. She has exhibited recently at Microscope Gallery, New York, Somerset House, HeK Basel, FACT, The Photographers’ Gallery, Hayward Gallery, Munich Kunstverein, Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Banner Repeater, and The Royal Standard. She has recently presented performances and talks at the Whitechapel Gallery, South London Gallery, the Royal College of Art, Chelsea College of Art, Goethe Institut, London, the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam, Goldsmiths College, London, the Dutch Art Institute, Aarhus Decennial Conference 2015, Transmediale, ICA, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, David Roberts Art Foundation and Southbank Centre, London. Recent shows include Big Bang Data at Somerset House, Trace Programme at Flo Skatepark, Nottingham, Dark Archives, a solo commission at Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, and a performance at Block Universe festival 2016. In 2015 Erica was in residence at Wysing Arts Centre and the White Building, London, and in 2016 she attended the Saari Residence in Finland, with Autoitalia; and she is a Near Now Fellow 2015/6. She presented a performance at Somerset House as part of Block Universe 2016 and has created a new commission for the Wellcome Collection’s exhibition, “Bedlam: the Asylum and Beyond”.
Ismene Wyss― Speaker
Ismene Wyss, born 1989, studied art history with focus on contemporary art at the University of Berne. She completed her Master degree with the thesis entitled: “The blogging artist: Ai Weiwei’s construction of Identity through a new medium.” Currently she is employed as scientific assistant at the University of Berne. She started her PhD on the topic of “Social Media as material in contemporary art” in November 2014. Her supervisor is Prof. Peter J. Schneemann.
Rob Horning― Speaker
Rob Horning is an editor of Real Life (reallifemag.com) and a contributing editor for The New Inquiry (thenewinquiry.com). In his famous 2009 article “The Death of the Hipster” in PopMatters, he states that the hipster might be the “embodiment of postmodernism as a spent force, revealing what happens when pastiche and irony exhaust themselves as aesthetics.”