5 Questions profiles SAIC students and faculty at work, in the school, and beyond. This month, F Newsmagazine spoke with Alicia Everett, an MFA candidate. Check out the rest of her work at www. aliciaeverett.com
All images courtesy of the artist.
1. What drove you to explore sexuality from a technology-based perspective?
I have been a social whore since I could smile. A career in sales of commercial software and hanging out with programmers exposed me to the first forms of social networking in a DOS-based environment well before the likes of AOL existed. I have met thousands of people in person from social networking online. You could say I have an ethnographical obsession with technological interactions from a pro-sexual, hetero, cis female perspective. At its most basic level, my work explores how forces of a graphic, sexualized, and visual techno-culture exert power over the way we share and interpret information in our electronic interactions.
2. How does your photographic work differ from your new 3-D pieces?
My new 3-D work is an extension of my photography, which started with my ongoing, archival collection of “dick pics.” I began a campaign with firstname.lastname@example.org because I regretted not having saved all the images I received over the years. For me, dick pics are the veritable tip of the iceberg. They are a direct reversal of the gaze and an entrance into the depths of our constantly evolving systems of personal communication in techno-culture from a feminine perspective.
My abstract body of work is quite different and consists of digital prints of video stills from cyber-sex performances. The abstraction of the motion references the perceived intimacy and autonomy of technical communications, the tangled conditions of degradation and empowerment, and the gray area between public and private. I think of this work as painting with virtual life, and I attempt to use color, line, and movement to create a sense of the feminine tensions underlying the work. These tensions, within personal pornography and my research, include the negative influences of the industry of pornography, revenge porn, and social conditioning of the female body in the forms of objectification and degradation. This is, at the same time, contrasted with positive narratives that include pornography’s use in healthy relationships, body acceptance, sexual empowerment, and the ability to use body image to manipulate the standard language of sexuality.
My new 3-D work combines and extends the concepts of the photographic work. It is a coming home, materially, because I am a sculptor at heart, and I needed to dig my fingers in clay. Ceramics are made of the earth. They are carnal, molded with the hands, and one of the oldest forms of art. The history and qualities of ceramics as a material, layered with the concepts I study, are intended to create parallels and juxtapositions that integrate historical context and conceptual breadth. My ceramic forms mimic the bodily parts of my abstract still prints and will include imagery that requires viewer interaction, further complicating ideas of public and private.
3. What are you reading or working on this summer?
This last year was spent heavily researching a wide variety of history and theory related to my work, so I am going light on reading for the summer. I am working in the office of Continuing Studies, assisting [School of the Art Institute of Chicago photography professor] Ollie Rodriquez with a few projects, and enjoying the extra time in my studio. I am spending time with family, connecting with friends, and playing online.
4. What social media do you use? What kind of content do you post?
I mostly use Facebook, since almost everything makes its way to Facebook, but I also reddit occasionally. I use social media to keep up with news and events and to participate in cultural discourse. I attempt to manipulate the algorithms on Facebook to achieve a prioritized feed of my interests like art, politics, feminism, and sexuality. That means I don’t comment or ‘like’ many posts of kittens, babies, or other irrelevant content. For the most part, I post content that might be of interest to my “friends” and has not already saturated the web through other postings. I have also just recently returned to Instagram.
I was motivated by a visit with Sean Fader to the Denny Gallery during last winter’s New York study trip. Sean’s work, #CollectiveAuthorship, a response to Richard Prince’s appropriation of his work, altered my perspective and enticed me to experiment with Instragram as a platform for artistic expression. When I first logged back on, I was reviewing my old posts and remembered my mother once said it disturbed her to see images of her children beside those of sexuality. It conjured ideas of motherhood in reference to societal expectations and led to my first series of postings, #MyMomOnceSaid. The postings are examples of the juxtapositions in the documentation of my life as a mom and as a woman. Instagram also provided the perfect platform to share images of work related to #GiftsFromFriends, which I receive frequently and always wanted to show in some way. I am not sure how this will progress, but I am enjoying my reconnection with Instagram.
5. What are some of the authors and artists you have explored during your time at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago?
Not in any particular order, some of the authors I have explored are Ariella Azoulay, Andrea Fraser, Sadie Plant, Claire Bishop, Judith Butler, Boris Croys, Guy Debord, Linda Alcoff, Hakim Bey, Susan Sontag, Michel Foucault, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Betty Friedan, Maggie Paley, Michael Paraskos, Kayt Sukel, Mary Roach, Ariel Levy, Kelly Dennis, Maud Lavin, Georges Bataille, David Harvey, Matteo Pasquinelli, Jacques Ranciere, and Walter Benjamin.
Some of the artists that come to mind are Hito Steyerl, Ryan McGinley, Andrea Fraser, Oliver Laric, Maria Llopis, Frances Stark, Jason Briggs, Betty Tompkins, Judith Bernstein, Yayoi Kusama, Jason Salavon, Arturo Herrara, Ron Geibel, Richard Prince, Claudia Pajewski and of course many faculty, among others.