This is beginning to get ridiculous. I’ve been trying to write this review for a total of perhaps 4 hours so far, only to backspace myself into ‘minus 5000 characters’ because I can’t get my words out right – or maybe I’ve just got too many words to say. I feel like I’m writing about something that has been right under my nose for years, although I have only acknowledged it now – and it changes everything. We’ll see how attempt no. #1000-and-who-even-knows goes, anyway..
The Young-Girl's Gaze serves several purposes all in one: It applauds, it criticises, and it questions the modern girl's relationship with her computer. It's pink and fluffy, but if you look close enough, it's black and sharp around the edges. It's bittersweet, and I love it.
I've been on computers for as long as I can remember: I learned colours and counting through Mickey Mouse CD-Roms. The sound of dial-up is a big part of some of my earliest memories. My sense of style was born through dressing pixelated dolls and watching fashion bloggers share their wardrobes. I learned the art of debate and argument through online forums, and I have a strange sense of humour thanks to several psychotic YouTubers. I collected sparkly MSN emoticons like they were stamps, for years. I’ve learned basic coding and graphic design from building endless websites and blogs that are now lost in the giant vortex we know as ‘The Machine’. I’ve lived my life – and several other lives – through my Sims.
I think my attachment to technology has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be the person I am today without technology and the internet: It's not only given me an edge on the techy side of things, but it's also helped me to stay creative, open-minded, inspired, ambitious, entertained... the list goes on. However, it has also in the past become a tool for self-destructive mental habits that can come in waves at any point in time: I have diagnosed myself with several illnesses just from some simple Google searches, dealt with trolls (particularly in the time when I had just discovered the online community but did not know how to participate in it correctly), compared myself to endless images of endless girls with seemingly endless legs. Thank goodness, these phases are now incredibly rare, mild and short; thankfully just phases - but phases that would not exist, had I stepped away from the screen(s) a little sooner and a little more frequently than I initially had.
Why am I speaking in such detail about my experiences, you ask? What does this have to do with Bunny Collective's Young-Girl's Gaze, you ask? Everything. When I looked at every piece in that exhibition, I saw my entire relationship with my laptop and the internet and everything it had entailed; Empowerment. Independence. Addiction. Vulnerability - I saw the conflict that I surrender to every night when I log on to my Tumblr/Twitter/Instagram/Facebook/etc in that exhibition. It felt like I was wandering around, examining and photographing my own brain!
But in all my years of being glued to a screen, I never considered the bigger picture of spending my life online: It was clear to me that my emotional and intellectual makeup was greatly affected (positively and negatively) by how I spent my time, but I never considered that I was part of a major shift in our social structure as a generation, and more specifically, as a gender. The girls of my generation still face the usual struggles, but in a whole new way: Alone. Well, alone with a computer - so maybe not so alone - but a computer that can either diminish or manifest said struggles, with the victim/sufferer having little or no control.
Young-Girl's Gaze, essentially, puts this message into a medium that us cyber girls can recognise: The pink hues and angsty wording were what initially drew me towards the exhibition months ago when I heard of its coming. Before I even knew what the girls of Bunny Collective were trying to say, I loved the exhibition because I thought, 'Ugh finally, something cool and Tumblr is coming to Waterford...'. I think that Bunny Collective have harnessed their style of art in a way that really works for the message this exhibition - it's pretty, messed up and contradictory, like your typical female teenager (!!!MEEEE!!!)
Young-Girl's Gaze by Bunny Collective is showing in SOMA Contemporary Gallery until June 7th. Gallery is open Thursday - Saturday, 12-5pm