You Remember How Lonely Everything Was in the Beginning /

DL REVIEW: You Remember How Lonely Everything Was in the Beginning / 

New York, NY

Virtual Exhibition, 2020 
Curated by Jay Elizondo and Zac Thompson

Featured Artists:

LaTonia Allen
Alexandra Marguerite Cabrejos
Peter Clough
LaTefy Dolley
Michelle Girardello
Yawen Erin Huang
Jee Youn Hwang
Amanda Smith
Hannah Taylor 

All images courtesy of the artists and collective: 
Jay Elizondo
Daniel Arturo Almeida
Elise Warfield

Text by Ashlin Artemesia Ballif 

    Homepage and Interior of House
     Drawings by Zac Thompson

What a dream we’ve all had. 

Art collective Please Don’t Come to This Show is a web-based exhibition space, founded by curators and artists Daniel Arturo Almeida, Elise Warfield, and later joined by Jay Elizondo. PDCTTS’s aesthetic is a time machine that leads to a familiar friend: glitchy and playful fonts, neon, blocky graphics, and all that is reminiscent of the blooming internet in the early 2000s. The site homepage is a fiery video game announcement, inviting and jazzed, and incites the viewer to explore its click-a-bility. 

The latest exhibition, curated by Jay Elizondo and Zac Thompson, You Remember How Lonely Everything Was in the Beginning, is the third iteration PDCTTS has uploaded. Staying true to one of the core qualities of PDCTTS: care and community, You Remember’s virtual venue is personalized with Zac Thompson’s sketches and handwriting. The homepage of the show is a pencil-drawn house whose top opens to reveal highlighted contours of rooms for view. The bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living room all house the works of several artists, each depicting a reflection of care, introspection, and their reaction to the pandemic; a conveyance of emotions of being alone or lonely at home.

What does it mean to be an empty house?

When speaking with Jay about the exhibition, they spoke on loneliness, isolation, sentimentality, and domestic spaces as the themes that sparked the idea for the concept of the show. Jay described these themes as being the elephant in the room during the pandemic, feelings that needed to be addressed and contemplated. Jay explained that there’s a tension that lies between a house, its domestic objects and the presence they bring to a lonely home. Often we see a domestic space as being filled with materials that are assumed to provide comfort, as a home may embody. However, in being stuck inside, despondent with furniture and personal belongings, a negative pressure arises. So much so that as Jay writes in the curatorial statement, “the house blends with the body.” Zac’s drawings as the home or gallery for the works become somewhat of a remedy to this tension, and accentuate the personal essence of something handwritten, adding a tangible quality to the virtual medium.



LaTonia Allen’s video performance Mama Always Told Me It’ll be Alright (2020) (above), showcases this tension, a work that focuses on a ritual of care during a time when the weight of the world is particularly heavy. Allen exemplifies the slowing down of time, allowing herself a moment to live within her exhaustion when the fight for leisure and self-care is potently strenuous. Her humming as backing vocals, Allen moisturizes herself with coconut oil, punctuating the importance of giving oneself time to hydrate, to provide nutrients, to push pause when the world ridicules the refusal to keep in constant motion. 

I don’t need to fight today; I’m just going to exist.

Other works that showcase frozen time, within the spell of alone, are Michelle Girardello’s videos and pigment inks on paper. These snapshots are empty rooms, yet are filled with residues of presence. The shadows cast across the furniture travel through each piece and manifest an uncanny ambience, one familiar in dreams-an ambience as experienced by many humans, IRL, especially during the quarantine this year. Girardello captures the comfort of a lived space and creates an element of desolation: what happens when outside is no longer a healthy option of escape from inside? A film of outdoor imagery floods each room, reflecting on how we have had to live: our imagined, yearned for outside, indoors.

    Michelle Girardello
    Kitchen IV, pigment ink on paper, 18×12”, 2019 (top),  
    Living Room XI, pigment ink on paper, 18×12”, 2019 (bottom)

Peter Clough’s performance video, Open Wide (2020) begins, “…Now open wide, and pay attention to the feelings inside your face…” The film is a guided meditation over the backdrop of Clough’s open mouth. An open mouth, which can often be a gesture associated with emotions of anguish, frustration, and helplessness, is also the way inside. It is an internal stretch: a release. In this sense, the imagery is in juxtaposition, however the meditative narrative flows in tandem with the image of Clough’s mouth agape, tongue dancing. Here, viewers have the space to return inward. Open Wide is utterly unapologetic in its humanness, mimicking the intimacy one might feel when checking in on yourself in the mirror, making silly faces, or intensely contemplating your reflection. Much of the language in this video describes being claustrophobic or stuck, which reflects how many have had to face their own reflections this year, being fixed within and with ourselves. 

    Open Wide
    Peter Clough
    Still from HD Video with Sound, 7 min.

LaTefy Dolley’s 2018 durational performance piece, i got you, (seen below) reflects inward as well. Moments of intimacy are another familiar aspect of a dream, an ache experienced during quarantine. Bare skin, chest to chest, foreheads kissing, in this context, Dolley expresses the longing for closeness in perhaps its most core form. So often the body’s reaction to traumas and stresses is the desire to be held by someone other than ourselves, especially when we are left to heal alone or unaided. Bodies want to hear, “I got you.” As described further on the artist’s Tumblr, this piece expresses vulnerability, hyper-visibility, and black forms in white spaces–all thoughts that echo thunder and reverberate from the white walls in the performance stills below: what does it mean to lay bare in these spaces? In self-seclusion?


    i got you
    LaTefy Dolley

You Remember considers how within the pandemic ‘home’ has morphed and replicated itself into a series of spaces it normally may not be: an office, work, a gym, a café… These once highly populated ecosystems are now crammed inside of a domestic area–your lived space–though we are isolated within them. How is it possible to balance time or form a shelter of comfort and self-care with all these worlds competing for air under one roof?  

This exhibition peers inside dreams and reflections; each gallery room acts as a tiny door of a mind, one that allows you to open and click on the emotion you wish to explore. Finally, for the first time this year, you are in control. PDCTTS is not simply a virtual gallery, it is a playspace. It is an acceptance of glitch, a personalized introspection-station to feel with and about. Jay and Zac do not only interrogate the discomfort of an empty, uncanny house but flourish and live within it. As written in the curatorial statement, in this home, “here, tenderness counts. care counts. we become our affections… or lack thereof.” A cry out to radical softness, You Remember is a webpage that embodies soft power and calls for the care to concern.

Check out the full exhibition of all artists and works here.