Signe Pierce at Nathalie Halgand Gallery / Vienna

Signe Pierce
Virual Normality

18.03. – 06.05.2017

Galerie Nathalie Halgand

Stiegengasse 2/3, mezzanine level

1060 Vienna

 images courtesy the artist and Galerie Nathalie Halgand

During the height of the 2016 American
presidential primaries, just shy of a year before Donald Trump’s ultimate
inauguration, artist Signe Pierce convened a small group of spectators outside
of Trump Tower in New York City. Acting as a hyperbolic valley girl
dressed in a soft pink velour tracksuit, Pierce, unhinged and crying,
documented herself vomiting up a Starbucks Frappuccino in a series of selfies.
The performance was part of BOOKLUB 10, curated by India Salvor Menuez in
conjunction with Oceans of Images: New Photography 2015 at the Museum of
Modern Art, an exhibition that sought to examine the various elements of
perception using the photographic image as its primary medium.

Pierce’s props—the tracksuit, the iPhone,
the frothy beverage—are symbols of an American normality. Perhaps they are
deemed “normal” for their iconic status in the marketplace; in Western society,
commercial successes have long dictated popular conventions. Her actions,
however—the manic selfie taking, the vomiting—were anything but standard. And
yet, just as Trump conned voters by swaying attention towards his antics,
Pierce’s vulgar performance disclosed a fact that can be applied to the
contemporary media landscape: in a 24-hour news cycle that needs constant
fodder, influence is peddled through an affinity for the obscene, not by
maintaining the status-quo. What defines “normal” in a culture seeped in new
media and by new modes of power are among the themes to be explored in Virtual
Pierce’s first solo exhibition presented by Galerie Nathalie
Halgand in Vienna, Austria.

Provoking critical interventions by
manipulating social constructs is a staple of Pierce’s work, and in an era
where mass communication is driven largely by technology, the artist has little
interest in perpetuating a binary between digital networks and physical
publics. Her practice, which spans acting, photography, and installation,
treats the internet as a fluid extension of reality, finding presence wherever
there are people to impact. Small gatherings, like that of her BOOKLUB 10
performance, are typically broadcasted to thousands of the artist’s online
followers. And by finding inclusion in the “post-internet” canon—in which
virtual media are touted for their embodiment as art objects, removed from the
constraints of a web browser—Pierce has brought multidimensionality to an
international roster of galleries and museums. Her work across these realms are
unified by her unwavering signature style, largely expressed through vivid neon
colors, dark humour, and always with a pingback to mainstream notions of
femininity—as if Barbie was perpetually drenched in James Turrell’s
disorienting light instead of a fabled California sun.

Galerie Nathalie Halgand will display a
similar environment. Using elements of set design to envision what the artist
is referring to as a “hyper-real home,” the gallery space will be re-formatted
as an apartment, in which visitors can experience Pierce’s work in a setting
more casual than a white cube. The exhibition’s “living room” will feature
various multimedia works, including a collection of Pierce’s photographs and
short films, in addition to her lightboxes, which take the form of large format
prints mounted upon fluorescent frames. Archival footage of the artist’s videos
produced and performed on social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram
and Facebook, will be presented on digital monitors and screens throughout the
space to reinforce the sense of digital immediacy common in Pierce’s work. Virtual
will also include an original performance, staged in the
gallery’s “bedroom”, to be live-streamed online for 24-hours. 

Exhibition text by Alexis Anais Avedisian