April 24 – May 2, 2014
Over the past six years I have witnessed and participated in the boom of social media. My memory has recorded a sort of timeline ordered by popularity and utility… the adept social media user evolves with each new platform—from Myspace to Facebook, on to Twitter, then Instagram, and the latest frontier, Vine.
These sites launched with promises of utopia; a new era of democratized communication where anyone could post, comment, approve, and share new content from any place, at any time. The exponential increase of human connection and the progress it might yield was astoundingly promising, and in hindsight grossly overestimated.
What has occurred in place of humankind’s advancement is a detrimental backslide into narcissistic quicksand. Social media users construct their profiles to portray misleading representations of who they really are, from the personal information they selectively share down to the way they physically look. Illusion is king; filters veil unwanted details, tags and mentions garner attention, curated photo galleries imply candid perfection. Catering to an audience they are extremely aware of, users craft their profiles and postings to establish a faithful following.
Social media has a deathgrip on the attention span of humankind. If we aren’t posting, we’re scrolling; if we aren’t scrolling, we’re stalking. We’ve lost the ability to effectively communicate, to be present in real time. We’ve lost sight of our own worth, measuring our importance numerically in likes and followers. With this loss of consciousness, the line between user and profile has been sorely blurred, as humanity dissolves pixel by pixel into the social mediaverse.
This body of work is a stance against these distressing conditions—a critique of the social mediaverse from the inside, as I was once a heavy user myself. Since deleting my accounts two years ago, I’ve regained consciousness, reclaimed my humanness and established a realtime presence that inspired this show. Through exploiting the very visual and vernacular which social media is rooted in, these works call attention to the deceitful and often ridiculous nature of living through one’s virtual self.
It was critical to express these thoughts through non-digital media in order to avoid contradiction. These mobile paintings depict social media tropes and site templates, making them self-reflexive through layers of awareness– painting a selfie is an act of removal (a portrait of a self-portrait), as is the process of reducing these sites’ formats to blocks of color. The endless rotation of these paintings imitates scrolling while highlighting the regurgitative nature of overshared info.
About the Artist
Kelsey Zalimeni is a senior studio art major, art history minor from Chapel Hill, NC. She is the recipient of the Presidential Scholarship in Visual Arts and the Karyn Dingledine Art Scholarship. Kelsey’s interest in the contemporary art world has led her to internships with Mixed Greens Gallery in Chelsea, Christie’s Auction NYC, PULSE Contemporary Art Fair in Miami, and, most recently, two periods of service in artist’s studios in LA and NYC. She has also participated in numerous exhibitions at START Gallery and two group showings in Hanes Gallery as part of the annual Student Art Exhibition. In 2013, Kelsey was selected to buy art for the Wake Forest Student Union Collection of Contemporary Art, traveling to NYC with six other students to bring top contemporary works back to Wake. After graduating from Wake Forest in May of 2014, Kelsey will return to NYC to work in Sotheby’s Floater Programme and continue her own artistic career.