Organized by Kayla Fanelli and Joseph Ian Henrikson, Rheo-Grande is an exhibition that explores the questions of how identity is formed, how identity is performed, and how self and language are defined within a contemporary condition steeped in virtual networked communities. The project presents a range of artists, some with practices that date back to the 1970s, others from a younger generation that have come to age as newer technologies developed, forever altering the way we look at images.
While Rheo-Grande includes works from across generations, it is not intended as a comprehensive analysis of how artists have chosen to represent themselves, but rather as an effort to highlight salient moments in which identity has been produced and displayed in culture. The thread that binds all of the works together is an investigation into the construction of identity and an acceptance that it is both fluid and malleable, honest and deceptive.
These generations have lived through the transition of audiences from cinema to laptop and from television to iPhone. Since the technological advances of the industrial revolution, it has been the camera that has most significantly altered our means of self-representation. This reality has been further complicated by the Internet, which has permanently altered the way we relate to the world and one another.
Contemporary artists have responded to these evolving conditions in a number of ways, from developing fictional personas to critical inquiry into how one can manage multiple self-images or even to the extreme of withdrawing from networks of surveillance. The exhibition investigates the ways in which cultural producers have currently and historically used new media to self-identify.
Rheo is an ongoing curatorial project developed by Kayla Fanelli. The title of the original project, rheo, was drawn from Boris Groys’s book Into the Flow, in which he discusses the “rheology” of art, or how art has become more fluid. Rather than addressing art in general, this exhibition focuses on the unique experience that artists have in the digital age, where binary definitions of reality (real/virtual) are no longer enough. Many of the more recent works will focus on the fluid nature of identity, in which virtual, imagined, and real embodiments of self diverge and intersect. The ability to exist in a multitude of forms through a myriad of personas can be honest, deceptive, or both. The artworks included in Rheo-Grande are the representation of spectrum in the reality of today’s culture, which can exist in a physical space as traditional objects or through the codes and nodes of the Internet.