I’ve participated (in a very small way) in ‘Ed. Colonia,’ the latest installation at The GBTH Project. This is a group art exhibition of not one but six individual exhibitions, with contributions from: Marina Münter; Rachel Breaker; Aldiladeisogni and Mavi Beck; Natas; Lux Chiantelle; and Yeya Zuta. Each exhibition takes up one floor of a concrete apartment block. A colony of artists, then – hence the title (and a notecard on arrival from Marina Münter, GBTH Project curator, informs that ‘colony’ is in fact the collective noun for a group of artists).
I was one of 77 residents photographed for Marina’s exhibition, a gathering of cut-out avatars arranged in one of the apartments. It’s an impressive piece of work, not least for the sheer number of avatars present. As you move around the apartment, though, something else replaces that initial feeling of admiration for the time invested in its creation: a growing sense that you are being watched, silently. Each avatar has been photographed facing straight forward, so their eyes always appear to be looking at you. They have been photographed in their underwear only, their hands behind their heads: there is a sense of huge vulnerability and at the same time a strong, silent, collective voice.
A stand-out exhibition for me was the work of Rachel Breaker. When you enter the apartment where her work is displayed you’ll see a number of large pieces of brightly coloured furniture, each appearing to be made from vacuum-formed plastic: enlarged doll-house furniture, perhaps. Look more closely, and you will see worn-away stickers: some of them stickers that were part of the original toy (such as the upholstery on a chair) and some of them stickers that were once added by the child who owned them.
There was something profoundly moving about this work for me. The furniture looks cheap and tacky, but the worn stickers suggest that it was loved and played with once, and over and over again. It speaks to both the innocence and imagination of childhood play, and at the same time the sad nostalgia of adulthood, and at the same time the loss for parents of a child – a child who has died, perhaps, or a child who has just become an adult. These pieces are artefacts of a child’s inner life. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an exhibition in SL (or out of it) which has caused me to stop and look and think (and feel) for quite so long. I found it mesmerising.
Incidentally, if you should decide to visit – and I fully recommend that you do – don’t forget to add the installation HUD you will receive on arrival. This very handy interface will allow you to visit individual exhibitions wherever you happen to be in SL, so if you only get part-way through it on your first visit, popping back to resume your exploration will be easy.