Each installment features a writer, artist, or curator discussing an underrated artist, artwork, movement, or museum.

Carla Gannis, Selfie Drawing 51, Electronic Graveyard 2, The Upload, 2015

Today we're with Tina Sauerlaender, an independent curator and writer, in discussion of Carla Gannis' augmented reality Selfie Drawings. To the uninitiated, how would you describe the project?

Carla Gannis’ “The Selfie Drawings“ started with a year-long project of 52 digital drawings. The first ones are characterized by a color-reduced graphic novel-like style exploration of Carla’s own body through the lens of the digital camera. During the project, Carla embedded herself like an actor in different roles and narrative contexts describing our lives today between the analog and the digital. Unlike the immediate action of selfie photography, Carla here has “re-represented” herself, “a mediated self, reflexively through a slower, more traditional process,” as Carla says, “in doing this I have detached myself from the direct reference of the photographic, i.e. the seemingly ‘true’ representation of a person.” The intertwining and the simultaneous existence between IRL and URL she underlines by the second part of the project: creating augmented versions of The Selfie Drawings. For her project Carla was recently awarded one of the Lumen Prizes, global awards and tours for digital arts.

Carla Gannis, Selfie Drawing 49, Post Selfie, 2015

When did you first come into contact with Carla's work? Does she usually focus on the intersection of modern technology and life?

I saw Carla’s Selfie Drawings online and then decided to include them into the group show Porn to Pizza—Domestic Clichés that I curated at DAM Gallery in Berlin in 2015. Carla also exhibited digital animated versions of the Selfie Drawings in her solo exhibition A Subject Self-Defined at Transfer Gallery in Brooklyn this year. In her work, Carla generally deals with the intertwining of IRL and URL and its impact on the physical individual and psychological state of mind. With her The Garden Of Emoji Delights she translated Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights into a contemporary version by using Emojis, “experimenting with new ways of redefining identity and its forms of representation, both virtual and physical. By replacing religious vocabulary with secular and contemporary digital symbols [Carla Gannis] explores and critiques consumerism and modern society through the three emoji-fied realms of Eden, Hell, and Earth.” (Benoit Palop, The Creators Project).

Carla Gannis, Selfie Drawing 41, Babel In Wonderland, 2015

Why do you find Selfie Drawings especially meaningful?

I find The Selfie Drawings by Carla Gannis particularly relevant because the scenarios created in each works represent different types of women intertwined between digital life and physical life, facing today’s implications of post-humanism or artificial intelligence. By embedding herself into different narratives Carla Gannis emphasizes identity performance in a time where we constantly upload our “self” via social media platforms. She creates a unique way of depicting the female body in art away from sexualized objectification. The Selfie Drawings state: “Women don’t have to be naked to get into the museum.”

Carla Gannis, BLIPP #27, Selfie Drawing 24 “AKIN”, 2016, screenshots of the augmented version

Can you think of similar projects in scope or material?

The exploration of the female body and identity as well as creating new ways of depicting the female body in art away from the male gaze is an important topic in contemporary art, I would say especially in art dealing with digital culture or the internet. Although Carla Gannis’ project The Selfie Drawings is a very large-scale and comprehensive project, there are other artists like Kate Durbin, Leah Schrager, Erica Lapadat-Janzen et al. who generally deal with these topics. They also were addressed in the online exhibition Body Anxiety, curated by Leah Schrager and Jennifer Chan. In terms of selfie culture in general, Carla Gannis and I organized a screening and online exhibition following her aforementioned solo show A Subject Self-Defined in March 2016. For NARGIFSUS we invited 59 international artists to present animated GIF Selfie-Self Portraits that provide a broad range of artistic perspectives on contemporary selfie culture and self-display.