Freya Björg Olafson started her performance timidly, hiding herself behind her long stringy hairy, her long black jumper. Hooked to a projection screen behind her was the computer in front of her, Mac Photo Booth opened and capturing several pictures taken on spot, previous pictures of herself lining the bottom of the screen. The performance, part of Olafson’s AVATAR series, explores the insatiable need to disseminate ourselves online, to project an image that we hope satisfies the hunger of the curious.
Quickly Photo Booth began to work without her point, click, and control—shuffling through what I could assume was the past few months of her life. Solo pictures of Olafson were mixed with pictures with what seemed like a significant other, each posed in different rooms, locations, places. Olafson’s screen maintained the presence of a standard desktop background until repeated moving images of herself began to mimic dance moves she too performed in front of the computer’s projection. Slowly images of virtual strippers appeared on screen, popping up without her control and layering themselves just as thickly to the right as her own image dancing was projected and layered to the left. “CLICK THE LINK ON THE RIGHT” flashed rapidly as Olafson’s slow calculated dance moves contrasted the bright clothing and sensuous dance movements of the dancers to the right.
Olafson repositioned the small table on which her computer sat, aiming it at a wall she began to paint blue—a self-created blue screen. An environment emerged from her paint patches on the projected screen. A bathroom was pieced together through the painted strokes. Olafson prepped herself in front of the camera as her voice became younger, infantized. Olafson mouthed the words, a humorous and disturbing departure from self. Olafson widened this departure as she began to apply make up, making her eyelids into eyes, her lips into teeth. With the final application of a white wig Olafson removed her black jumper, a nude bra and underwear underneath. Olafson applied the same blue paint from the wall to her hips, erasing them from the projected screen. Eventually Olafson erased her shoulders and chest, a background of clouds now showing through, her disturbingly transformed head floating in the sky.
Her head and sky background were projected into the center of a Youtube video, and Olafson began to deliver a blog post entry, her voice suddenly much lower, an exaggerated raspy male voice. As she explained her plans to get Botox, Youtube video titles continuously scrolled behind her on screen, videos tied to physical betterment, videos explaining how to do the perfect arm curl. Olafson then asked her real audience for questions about her life, demanding validation and the sense of internet stardom from an assumed “regular” individual. Volunteers prodding at superficial questions such as “What is your favorite color?” “Is your hair naturally that blonde?” Olafson’s blogger was satisfied with the questions, flattered that curiosity was pointed her way, highlighting the performance’s mantra, “I post therefore I am.” The performance ended quickly after Olafson engaged the audience, Olafson removing her online persona by wiping away her makeup, removing her wig and acknowledging the audience as again herself removed from the projected image and the online.
RP14 performance photos by Kate Sierzputowski.
Kate Sierzputowski is freelance writer based in Chicago. Fascinated by artists’ studio processes, she founded the website INSIDEWITHIN to physically explore the creative spaces of emerging and established artists.