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Social Mediaites Throw Real-Life Party at #TheSocialGraph

Early on at #TheSocialGraph's opening (image from TS2AS)

Last Friday, the virtual art world became the real one as fellow Twitter followers met one another in reality, Facebook friends shook hands and a certain performance artist crossed the thresholds between digital and analog. During #TheSocialGraph‘s opening at Outpost in Ridgewood/Bushwick, a growing community that exists largely online met in person — and actually talked. Like, with sound, instantaneously. This was all helped along by a large keg and stacks of plastic cups that may have been an exercise in relational aesthetics, but probably were not.

A single sentry stands guard in the entrance to #TheSocialGraph‘s exhibition space, a white mannequin installed by Twitter performance impresario Man Bartlett. The buff male figure, the target of many gropings over the course of the evening, was eventually pockmarked by black fingerprints placed by visitors invited to leave their own mark on the work. A demonstration of the willingness to give up privacy, if anyone had been murdered Clue-style during the opening, the mannequin would be subpoenaed and we’d all be screwed. In another corner, recent NYC-expat and @Platea founder An Xiao video-Skyped herself from “somewhere in LA” onto a projector screen while audiences members interacted with her through a Macbook on a pedestal in her “Telepresent” performance.

Hyperallergic publisher Veken, An Xiao, and author (image from Hyperallergic's Facebook)

When the artist herself showed up in person, we knew the night had really started. Visitors wandered around admiring a preparatory sketch from William Powhida skewering the art world from the top of the hierarchy to the bottom, a network of dubious connections and deals, plus early-Williamsburg art world maps from painter Loren Munk. Space Slave Trade’s digital mash “Nuclear Tropics II: Escape from Bikini Peel” drew admiring stares, as did member artist Seychelle’s stylish backpack. I met Brent Burket, known earlier to me as HeartAsArena, for the first time, and it was awesome. I highly recommend the experience. A certain art-institution-loving nerd showed up at the gallery as well while Paddy Johnson gave us a preview of today’s electrocuted squirrel exegesis.

The author hanging out with other #TheSocialGraph party-goers in Ohanesian's “Untitled (The Jetway).” (pic by hv) (click to enlarge)

As the Outpost opening wound down, the crowd headed down Norman Street to the second extant art space of the burgeoning Bushwood (Bushwick + Ridgewood, get it?) art neighborhood and checked Andrew Ohanesian’s new installation “Untitled (The Jetway)” (2010) at Famous Accountants, a gallery only accessible (not to mention visible) as a staircase leading underground. Dismounting the stairs, a long hallway met us visitors. But didn’t the hallway look familiar? Kind of like that thing that gets you on to an airplane? It took another trip through, but eventually we were hanging out in Ohanesian’s installation, discussing the reactivation of space and the peculiar feeling of displacement redolent of airports. Consider the exhibition a success, and it got even better upon reaching the building’s backyard at the other end of the Jetway and the treasure trove of cheap beer.

A non-live tweeted walk back towards Brooklyn brought on a series of two bars, the first of which didn’t have vodka, and was thus unsuitable for Hyperallergic editor Hrag Vartanian, who lead the pack. At the second, our very own social graph occupied the basement and talked over things that may not have even involved the internet.

Down the road from Famous Accountants (photo by author)

See An Xiao’s photo documentation of her “Telepresent” performance on Hyperallergic’s Facebook page.

#TheSocialGraph received a nice mention at BushwickBK from writer Stephen Truax, who I think I ran into somewhere outside of Famous Accountants. His piece explores the burgeoning gallery scene in Bushwick.

WNYC interviewed exhibition curator Hrag Vartanian about the possibilities of social media for creative practices, and the growth of social media art as a genre.

Up Down Across also interviewed Hrag on the details of the show, how Hyperallergic is moving offices, and Man Bartlett’s move to our old digs in Williamsburg.

Animal New York picked up on James Gilbert’s plastic underwear project that undermines privacy with visitors’ help.

Cool stuff, right? And that’s just the beginning. The exhibition will be changing over time and developing continuously. Keep it locked to the show’s website for more details.

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