For the second contribution to the newly initiated series “Room D: Digital Projects” the Canadian artist Sara Cwynar reflects on the circulation of objects on digital auction and selling platforms. In her “Soft Film”—that follows the tradition of the essay film—the artist can be observed as she combines and arranges objects purchased on eBay, according to different specifications. And thus, questions concerning the economy of objects as well as concerning their use outside their intended purpose arise.
Little boxes covered in velvet, normally used for the safekeeping of jewellery, are at the centre of “Soft Film.” The small velvet boxes are characterized by a careful and elegant design, and still—as a means of presentation and protection—they are subordinate to the objects they contain. Without content or showing traces of use, they provoke speculations of their history. There is a patina of the past on many of the objects shown in “Soft Film“, and also the film itself seems to display it, because of the 16 mm material it was shot in. Subsequently, however, the material was transferred to a contemporary digital video format. But as a nostalgic reference, the aesthetic of the 16mm film remains visible.
In 2017, when Cwynar started working on her “Soft Film,” the number of reports increased, according to which a concealed form of sexism was common in Silicon Valley, for instance, to keep women from living up to their full potential. Cwynar regards the velvet boxes with their—often ornate—designs as objects as well as vessels, in order to contrast the appreciation of objects with the appreciation of human beings. The simple movements with which the artist arranges the objects in her film, remind furthermore of the early video art by Vito Acconci or Bruce Nauman, respectively the videos in which he acts himself.
Sara Cwynar (*1985 Vancouver, lives in New York) studied English literature at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, graphic design at York University, Toronto, and photography at Yale University, New Haven. Her works have been shown, amongst others, in solo exhibitions at the MMK Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt/Main (2017), at Foxy Production, New York (2014 and 2017), at the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia (2014), in group exhibitions such as “L’Image Volee,” Prada Foundation, Mailand (2016), “Greater New York,” MoMA PS1, New York (2015) und “Never Enough: Recent Acquisitions in Contemporary Art,” Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas (2014).
With the new series “Room D: Digital Projects,” the Künstlerhaus as a Hall for Art & Media complements its program and offers the visitors insights into the practice of young positions on media art. Although designed as an open format, the works shown from May to September 2018 are mainly based on keywords such as “moving image” and the “digital.”