People You May Know at Bosse and Baum
Whenever a contemporary artist starts gaining critique, interest and commercial success, it’s instantly noteworthy for anyone trying to make it in that tough circle. Débora Delmar is one of these rare cases. A young, Mexican girl, who already has a major exhibition in the UK as an artist, now explores the task of curating the work of people close to her, or – as Facebook would put it – People You May Know. As one of the Dual Year Mexico-United Kingdom events that have taken place in both countries, this exhibition stands out as anything but categorically Mexican.
The themes addressed in the exhibition include the fluctuant and ephemeral character of social media interactions, and how we allow them to shape our identity and relationships. It also considers how these reinforce and perpetuate capitalist ideals, relying on our behaviour as unstoppable consumers. As the algorithm People You May Know can connect people who would otherwise very likely not meet, the show also plays with the idea of relative arbitrariness in the online/offline duality. That is why the artists are people she met through friends, on and offline, and whose work is interestingly evocative of her own artistic ideals and concerns.
Doppelgängers portrays the random parameters through which Google finds images that look similar to you, while Transparent Void stirs nostalgia for the 1990s through the Pikachu figures, clocks, Ikea furniture and celebrity posters. A video piece by Julieta Aranda entitled What Right features 3D animations of faceless heads and texts about decapitation. It is the only piece that somehow responds to what a country like Mexico is demanding of its art, reflecting upon the beheaded bodies that its political situation has produced. The rest, nonetheless, verges on becoming precisely what it criticises.
Artworks that ironically invite the spectator to take selfies with them, whilst mocking this dynamic, remain shallow and insubstantial. The effect of contemporary art should not rely on artificial appeal but on a level of intellect with which the spectator completes the conceptual artwork; People You May Know falls strangely between these two. Object art meets post-Internet – it is contemporary art at its best, which more often than not, is also its worst. Nonetheless, artists should look out for whatever Débora Delmar does next, as she must be doing something right.
People You May Know is on at Bosse and Baum from 27th June until 24th July 2015, for further information visit here.