Interview: Bogomir Doringer

Updated: Jul 18

So, yeah, through media, and through history, especially in the 20th century, we've finally had a chance that is individual, we can show our faces, and celebrate them. And I think the pop culture, also trained us to some point that by showing our face and being liked and being recognized, we might reach some kind of success or those 15 minutes of fame. And that's exactly also what social media does to us, we kind of sign this contract that we will share our privacy, and we will expose ourselves in order to be recognized. But I think that there is a switch there. So what used to be the privilege of high society, you know, like to have a self-portrait, like in art history museums, became in the 20s kind of pop culture. And then in the 21st century through technology that we're using, we actually have that moment as well as individuals. But I think being invisible is what is the privilege of the 21st century. Because as we learn from the data and the way we feed, social media has been used against us in the form of surveillance capitalism in order to figure out what to sell us. Where were we, what our weak points are, where we can get improved, and how we can optimize? I think the 20th century was all about being seen in the 21st century is all about finding that kind of safe spaces and areas where you will be anonymous. So yeah, that's a little bit about it. And maybe I just introduction again. Yep. Okay, because now I'm warmed up.

How does being “seen” change the way we show our face to the world?

How far do we go back in time, I think that if we look at the 20th century, we were sort of trained and taught that by showing our face, we might get this 15 minutes of fame that Warhol was proposing. But also all the social media that we engage with require some kind of visibility. And I think we also were taught to show our faces through pop culture. So my doubt is, is showing the face in the 21st century a privilege or a punishment?. And I think that more and more those who are able to be invisible, and hide actually have more privilege than those that are worshipped because of their faces. And then again, I mean, the extreme facial exposure, if we again, look into pop culture comes with certain consequences. We need to share our faces in order to be recognized. This is somehow failing us as well.

What role do artists & cultural institutions play in preparing us for a post-face(human) world?

I've been very much interested in looking at masks in the 21st century. What came out of it is that most of the portraits, most of the fashion shows, or even public protests happen under the masks are there other masks. So this kind of ritual of masking in contemporary society to me was, on one side, a sign or symptom of a society that feels very insecure, unsafe and restless. But also on the other side, it was interesting to follow how artists are finding the strategies for being invisible in the online world, as well as in a public space. And those strategies were exactly what also shaped this phenomenon that is called faceless. And so this kind of gray area on one side we have demands to be constantly invisible, visible and transparent. On the other side, we are actually if we hide our face, we are doing something illegal, so the grey area in between, so to kind of figure out the strategies how to stay In gray areas very, very much what art has been offering. And then when it comes to cultural institutions finally, in the last two years, we are recognizing that, for example, face detection does not work accurately when it comes to darker skin colours, because most of these systems have been trained on white skin. So we're actually one side recognizing the consequences that contemporary technology has on the face of certain communities. And I think that's exactly the role, of institutions is not just to worship this obsession with base builders, but also to try to understand why do we need face builders? What are these masks mean? What do digital masks mean? Why did every public protest that happened last 20 years, pussy rides anonymous, Hong Kong protests happen under the mask? What does that mean for the freedom of speech? Why do we need to cover ourselves in this kind of almost ancient way? So for me, recognizing the return of masks for all these different reasons that I mentioned, from entertainment, from disguise from protection, and kind of on one side, hiding, the other side transforming into a larger collective body, that's the role of the art institutions to recognize those symptoms and why they're there and to try to actually join and yeah, fix the problems that these artistic groups are addressing and the consequences of technology that has been not inclusive in the time when it was created.

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