Live performance on social media
Collaboration with Leila Ziu
’Théâtre de l'ordinaire: Carte Blanche’ Show at V3 gallery, London
In August 2017 Ziu and Berthelot decided to digitally insert their work into images of prominent billboards and advertising spaces in order to promote their show at V3 Gallery.
The response was unexpected.
People unthinkingly believed them to be actual physical props, and so the performance of the exhibition began early, with social media followers as unwitting but active participants.
Social media culture is all about who can shout the loudest. Users always try to find ways to boost their numbers, and this tends to present an idealized online version of the self.
As a result, Ziu and Berthelot decided to take this concept to the extreme, also considering text as image, and using this shortened vocabulary of Internet speak, such as ‘emoji’ and ‘hashtag.’
A recent study stated that on average we check or touch our phones 2,617 times a day. This fragmented attention of being constantly connected and constantly distracted permanently reduces our capacity for concentration. The fast and instant nature of Instagram makes it difficult to question and reflect. Instead the content is often seen as a rarefied form of truth.
This brought up a wider discussion about fake news, hype and fame.
The two artists experienced the power of status. When the work is endorsed or framed above expectations, it elevates its meaning and potency.
While the approach was minimum effort and maximum impact, it seemed some enjoyed believing the status, but perhaps never engaged with the content itself. A culture driven by style over substance, with emphasis placed on the way something appears rather than the actual content.
The idea was never to trick people. Ziu and Berthelot began posting the photos as a related gimmick to their work and never expected or wanted them to be seen as status indicators - they were not advertising advertisements.
Perfection and beautiful imagery, however, gets ‘likes.’ Nowadays it is so easy to replicate, manipulate and manufacture. And as a result there emerges a homogeny that risks the loss of our specialness, our subtleties and personal nuances.