Desirée Holman seeks out worlds within our world, sites of transgression, conflict, and play. Her multimedia installations experiment with how these sites enable or disable deviation from the norms of so-called reality. For Heterotopias, Holman, who lives and works in Oakland, asked nine performers to channel fantasy narratives and personal desires to create an avatar, or surrogate identity, which she then realized, first with props and costumes, and then with fully rendered 3-D models in a virtual gamescape. This exhibition moves through Holman’s process of unraveling the analog and digital dimensions of a simulated landscape, starting with sixteen framed drawings. This traditional pictorial approach puts the ecstatically experiential video on pause, slowing down the frames to show us the physical reality of the computer user, the mask and undergirding that create the avatar, and the personal fantasies required to link those two worlds together. In the video room, we face the true fluidity of these frameworks—real people morph into mythic superheroes, battle and dance, and then recede ghost-like into their wireframe puppetry; they then reappear back in their everyday environments, close their computer screens, and return to domestic life. Transcending the real and the virtual, Heterotopias explores the performance of the self in everyday life.
Dena Beard, Curatorial Assistant
Exhibition curated by Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator Elizabeth Thomas.