Liu Bolin, Charles Petillon, Erwin Olaf, Huang Rui, Vhils
Danysz Gallery - London is pleased to present an online exhibition Anonymities. The presentation is first in a series of online exhibitions and explores the solitary experience in the context of the post-pandemic world. Bringing together 5 artists working across photography, sculpture, and mixed media, this group show aims to explore the newly adopted lexicons – e.g. ‘bubbles’ no longer standing for something ephemeral, but rather related to self-isolation and close tight groups. Bursting a bubble no longer seems like a playful act; it adopts sober meaning.
The exhibition is a commentary on the universal experience of dealing with modern technology, as well as being a fitting expression of this past year.
The definition of our life-space is characterized by the over-presence of phone and computer screens. The social interaction became reduced to ‘necessary’, implying transposed understanding of the term; stripped of its former qualities of abundance and serendipity.
Now many of us are always alone, our main means of communication and engagement, our text notifications, ticking with an unprecedented sense of gravity and anticipation. Lit in the muted glow, we work, engage, and connect. The blue light emitted by screens seems over-present; as it is in the case of Liu Bolin’s work ‘Screens in rest (large), 2017’. As we near the anniversary of lockdown 1.0, the virtual connection is no longer better than the real thing.
In his great project of quarantine, Erwin Olaf works with the theme of self-depiction and identity. His photograph ‘April Fool, 10.05AM, 2020’ takes on his moods in the context of a gridded interior of a supermarket. Vhils is revisiting this topic in his recent body of work in an attempt to trace the remnants of human activity and appearances hidden behind words and urban debris. With insistence, he presents his concept that through the fragments the worldview may be recovered. In ‘Petrification series’ the artist creates sculptures that reflect the light and engage the surrounding space through its mesmerizingly translucent surfaces that arrest one’s gaze. Or, in the case of Huang Rui’s sculpture ‘Moon’, the meaning of words is slippery, almost accidental. The artists are seeking to examine and process the incomprehensible; a nameless place.
Nonetheless, in the context of contemporary cities, anonymity lends us freedom. The works in the exhibition could be understood also as an inspiration to think in terms of boundlessness—despite being aware that borders and limitations will continue to exist and be determined by the language, the body, or technology.
"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."
- Oscar Wilde
Overall, researchers have found that anonymity can reveal personality traits that face-to-face interactions may hide, but that it also allows strong group rules and values to guide individual behavior.
Anonymity, the basic definition of this term is “being without a name.” Simply understood someone is anonymous if his/her identity is not known. Psychologically speaking, being anonymous may be perceived as a reduction in the accountability for the actions of the person. Anonymity is also associated with privacy as sometimes it is desirable not to have a direct link with a specific entity, though sometimes it is required by law to present an identity before and/or during an action is performed. In the physical world we have different forms of identification, such as Social Security Number, driving license, passport etc., which are widely acceptable.
Anonymity is also presented as an alchemic event of the internet age. It can be a transformative, disembodied state offering unprecedented freedoms for marginalised and dissenting voices. It can also shelter malicious operators from discovery and consequence. Suler has documented the psychological mechanics of these benign and toxic variations of the online disinhibition effect.