Performance Anxiety

Group Show

3 Mar - 10 Apr, 2021
Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety describes fear of acting in front of a group. But in a culture that encourages constant performance of the self, the phrase becomes more complicated. On social media, for example, public performance of work and play merge to form curated personal lifestyle brands. Contemporary philosopher Byung-Chul Han suggests that this self-exhibition generates communication without community: we are always broadcasting to one another, but the messages are too narcissistic to form meaningful bonds. This absence of community sparks feelings of isolation and, in turn, the desire for more attention. We do not fear performance, we perform because of anxiety. We inhabit a vast digital landscape that encompasses everything from the excessive positivity of Pinterest to the violent rhetoric of the dark web--two extreme but not necessarily opposing examples. Eric D. Charlton, Taha Heydari, and Wednesday Kim interrupt this constant background of digital noise to examine the ways in which it wields power and influence over its participants. Charlton grapples with internalized pressure to self-optimize and perform happiness. Frozen and repeated, the laughter and smiles throughout his mixed media works are disquieting--even sinister. Heydari’s paintings consider platforms and audience: where in space do digital performances occur, and for whom? Gridded and pixelated marks on his paintings’ surfaces suggest errors in transmission--glitches that obscure the message but reveal the medium. Kim mines the collective anxiety experienced by a culture that equates public self-revelation with authenticity. Her digital animations display absurd and obsessive imagery that both reveals and obscures their creator, exploring the nature of self-expression in the digital sphere.

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Performance Anxiety

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