[March 30 2017]
Her debut solo exhibition “Virtual Normality” took the young, multimedia artist Signe Pierce from her US base (between New York and LA) to Galerie Nathalie Halgand in Vienna, Austria. For her show, Pierce elevated the intimate architecture of Galerie Nathalie Halgand (a former apartment), into a techno-esque living space; covering the walls with iPhones and iPads, tainting the room in dark pink and purple neon light. In between, a simple bed and a desk, decorated with faded roses, complete the immersive installation. The various screens display directed video installations and footage of her performances alongside selected snippets from her everyday life.
The exhibited videos range from the critically acclaimed short documentary “American Reflexxx” (co-created by and starring Pierce), through hyper-sexualized works (one intriguing example showing the artist giving head to an iPhone) to rather political performances such as Pierce taking a ride on a mini Barbie buggy around Trump tower, shouting: “you wanna grab this pussy? Well, pussy grabs back!”. In between footage of selected surfaces (water, glass) and collected moments (reflections, rain, light, streets) complete the picture.
“The plain articulation of the word ‘feminism’ makes many people shake their head and turn away,” Pierce stated during the opening talk with art historian Noit Banai. Thus her critique is disguised in the (sometimes satirically) objectified sexual conception, she intends to challenge. By morphing into a white, blond, short-skirted, (in the case of “American Reflexx” literally) faceless pleasure object, she baits the perpetuators, plays with them and uncovers their general discriminatory tendencies.
Pierce commenced the exhibition with a 24h performance that she virtually leveraged by streaming it live on her Instagram account. By exposing the gallery’s visitors to her public live stream alongside herself within the constructed intimacy of the gallery, Pierce managed to set the right mood for some of the issues she is dealing with in her work. Namely the increasing digitalization, that is creeping into our private lives as well as the threats and freedoms that may come with it.
Her use of the iPhone camera juxtaposes the device’s positive and negative capabilities. On the one hand, she identifies it as a reality capturing machine; a weapon to protect it’s user from alternate truths, by capturing the very here and now. On the other hand, she highlights its capabilities to manipulate reality, making the merger between digital virtuality and actual reality be seen as something like a lucid dream. Even though her work comprises of miscellaneous media, the performative character of her oeuvre stays omnipresent. She explores how our hyper-mediated perception tends to alter our conception of “actual reality” within an increasingly virtual world. Calling herself a reality artist, her private life seems to merge with her life as an artist. The boarder, she says, are her relationships as she doesn’t want the people close to her feel exposed to her public artist persona.
On view until May 6th at Galerie Nathalie Halgand, Stiegengasse 2/3 (Mezzanin), Corner Linke Wienzeile 1060 Vienna, Austria.
Text and photo Philipp Draxler