Cristine Brache

Terms of Service: On algorithmic collapse & the culture of compliance enforced by covert shadow bans

3 June 2021

Last year, New York-based artist and content producer Joshua Citarella posted a meme of himself on Instagram wearing a US military uniform and an eye patch, a cigarette hanging from his lips, clutching two children. “My account is now shadow banned and has lost 75 percent of its reach,” the caption reads. “I do not yet know how long it will last. You can hit the bell to enable notifications, or archive a few of my posts to reprioritize the feed… You can find me elsewhere on Twitch & Discord.” Shadow banning, also known as being de-prioritised or de-boosted, is when a user’s social media account is intentionally limited in reach and visibility.

Joshua Citarella, ‘Boogaloo Kits’ (2021). Install view. Courtesy the artist.

Citarella is known for his research into online political subcultures. In 2018, he published ‘Politigram & the Post-left’, a publication and online pdf that catalogues radical Gen Z content and postulates how social media shapes the political ideologies of its users. He coined the portmanteau ‘Politigram’, to encompass political radicals he has encountered on Instagram. “At the time, my interest in exploring this space was to find an online left that can compete with the social media impact of the alt-right,” writes Citarella in the pdf. “My practice became an extensive research project into the underbelly of online radical groups.”

Part of the artist’s investigation includes the emulation of a recruitment tactic he adopted from these sorts of Instagram accounts, some of which are documented in ‘Politigram & the Post-left’. For an estimated six weeks, Citarella engaged in a strategy where he posted between 30 to 40 Instagram stories per day. They took the form of memes and denoted various ideologies from the political left, right and centre, and referenced cultural theorists like Mark Fisher, Nick Land and Slavoj Žižek. “I wanted to show people politigram through my feed and this was a strategy to get a specific type of traffic to my account to help promote my podcast,” writes Citarella on the live streaming hub Twitch, where he debunks political and cultural content for around four hours every Monday. “The month I became shadow banned occurred directly after I turned down my last freelance jobs from clients and friends I had for years, and all of a sudden I had no visibility so I took that very seriously.”

Citarella’s memes are saturated with irony and often labeled as ‘shitposting’, a term used to describe ironic, aggressive and troll-like social media engagement. They can also function as a symbolic mirror to the complex intersection and behaviours of technology, culture, politics and theory. Take as an example the ‘You’re finally awake’ series that went viral in September 2020. The format plays with the viewer’s chronological sense of time, transporting them backward or forward by referencing past events, or accelerating current ones to predict the future. One image in the series features reference to philosopher Land’s Dark Enlightenment theory, Mark Fisher’s tragic death, and jungle music within a 50-or-less character count. A sense of illusionary escapism is projected with the second-person tense and interrogating question marks. As Citarella outlines in the caption: “it’s almost like people wish we could escape our current timeline.” 

Found image (2021).

Sharing political content, like the fake replica image of the Boogaloo Boys Gen Z Civil War nostalgia militia group, can come with consequences. The alt-right uniform is ironically exhibited with the styling and placement of the popular and well-known Supreme and NASA logos. Citarella presumes posting content along the lines of the former resulted in a shadow ban.

The undetermined definition of a shadow ban

The function of ‘shadow banning’ is a result of the platformization of society—the transition of communication onto digital platforms. The Terms of Service (TOS) differ between these applications and communities, and remain in a state of flux due to constant technological updates. A shadow ban can be seen as a discrete form of censorship, where an account is not deleted but the visibility is considerably reduced. It’s unknown what exactly triggers the ban, most likely it’s caused through a repeated accumulation of tacitly proscribed content.

So far, shadow banning is unprovable apart from anecdotal reports. Instagram’s TOS contains a slither of a reference to what it could entail, where the opaque community guidelines mention that posts may not directly breach their terms, they may “not be appropriate for the global community”. In these instances, Instagram will “limit the posts from being recommended on Explore and hashtag pages”. It should be noted that platform behemoths like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have a crucial liability in moderating the spread of legitimate harmful content. However, it’s obvious the examples in this text don’t fall within the extremist content category. 

One presumed effect, as described by Citarella, is in a user having to type the full name of the shadow banned Instagram account before it shows in the auto-populated dropdown search box, a tool to aid in finding profiles. “Another level [of censorship] is when you have constantly reduced traffic,” he adds. “My traffic didn’t reduce by 50 percent, it reduced by 99 percent for two months.”

The concept of shadow banning came to fruition in 2018, with a widely circulated Vice article, which claimed microblogging network Twitter limited visibility of prominent Republicans by removing their handles from the drop-down search box. Shadow banning was then coined by then President Donald Trump, who accused the microblogging service of restricting his account in 2018. The New York Times defined shadow banning as when users’ posts become invisible because they are “algorithmically shut down”. Since the Facebook conglomerate—which includes Instagram, Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp—offers no substantial definition that explicates the practice, anecdotal examples are the only evidence.

Carolina Busta, ‘Clear Net v Dark Forest’ (2021). Courtesy New Models, Berlin.

Real-life effects on art practices & audience engagement 

For a murkily-defined term, the influence on users’ accounts can be exorbitant. Citarella earns a living through Instagram, so he tracks his engagement closely and often relies on analytics to understand audience demographics. On the high end, the artist would generally receive 2,000 views on his Instagram stories. The lower end would track about 1,200 views per story. “I discovered it literally through watching the analytics,” he says, about becoming aware of the possibility of a shadow ban. “It steeply dropped off, really noticeably, from a medium number of 1600 to about 300.” In the midst of the ban, Citarella opened his Left Futures solo show at BFI Miami and published the second edition of his book, 20 Interviews. He promoted both these projects, while reaching less than a quarter of his usual audience. “We haven’t been able to get any press for it whatsoever,” said Citarella about the solo exhibition. “It’s frustrating as a producer because you labour on something for a year—which is a labour of love—and then nobody knows it’s there, except for the same 300 people who can see your stories.” 

Los Angeles-based artist and activist Emily Barker outlines a similar experience. Their posts take the form of Instagram selfies, Tweets and TikTok videos, which often feature descriptive captions illustrating the politics and austerity around disability. “I repost about misogyny, police violence, racism, ableism… and what we can do to actively change things, while sandwiching this between cute and funny content,” writes Barker over email. Despite primarily using Instagram for disability advocacy they noticed the stories speaking out against police brutality received considerably fewer views, compared to other more ordinary content. When asked why they suspected a shadow ban, Barker recounts friends and followers messaging them to say their posts were no longer visible. It should be noted that Citarella’s and Barker’s descriptions of the ban are informal evidence, and they raise questions around the difficulties of relying on human observation to prove technological polarities.

Technology and the ‘Culture of Compliance’ 

In 1989, during the ‘Massey Lectures’, physicist and author Ursula Franklin examined the impact of technology on human life. She identified two distinct categories of automation: Holistic technologies are associated with artisans, such as potters, weavers and metal smiths, who control the process of their work. In contrast, prescriptive ones order and divide labour around central management. In doing so, the process of work is outside of the labourer’s control, resulting in compliance with the system. Amazon factories, for example, systematize employees around a central management, likewise Instagram could be seen to divide user’s posts with algorithms and TOS. 

Joshua Citarella, ‘Use-Value Urban Repurposing’ (2021). Install view. Courtesy BFI, Miami.

Franklin refers to the increased dominance of prescriptive technologies as a ‘culture of compliance’, and art and technology critic Mike Pepi elaborates on this concept. In his 2019 essay, ‘Control, Alt, Delete: The New Artistic Activism Versus the Surveillance State’ he writes, “perhaps no technology illustrates this culture of compliance more plainly than the rise of big data analytics”. If the notion of a shadow ban, as described by Citarella and Barker, is in fact a reality, it’s a mechanism that influences a ‘culture of compliance’ by encouraging self-censorship. Put simply, if an artist who makes a living through Instagram is softly banned, resulting in a loss of revenue, they may change the type of work they choose to publish.

Cristine Brache is an example of how shadow banning can cultivate self-censorship. The New York-based artist’s practice includes depicting personal mythologies, analyzing signifiers ascribed to femininity, and alluding to the truth between desires and reality. The pathologizing of emotion and sexuality is a recurring theme on Brache’s Instagram. One series of images depicts Brache in a number of tantalizing poses. The first features the artist topless, wearing a black school-girl overall designed by the Freudian, blasphemy-inspired label, Praying, with the caption, “It’s so hard not to keep my throat from getting parched by praying, a boredom so alluring, it makes people jealous.”  

Before shadow banning became a term, Instagram deleted Brache’s account for violating the TOS in 2015. The artist suspects her current account has been shadow banned. It’s impossible to prove, since the artist’s following count tracks below 10,000 and she is unable to see her analytics to gauge user engagement. “I’ve become super careful about what I post,” explains Brache via email about how the initial deletion made her modify her online behaviour. “I can’t comment on how that affects my engagement other than I’ve successfully been censored by censoring my own behaviour.” 

Technology arises out of a social structure

The conceptions of data as absolute and algorithms as a consistent regulating system died alongside the utopia myth of Silicon Valley. We know the sorting mechanism of algorithms enforce biases, and when our attention is translated into data, it’s turned into profit. One needs to look no further than TikTok for confirmation of the former. In March of 2020, independent news platform The Intercept published the app’s internal moderation criteria used by outsourced freelancers to censor content. Moderators were instructed to suppress posts of users with ‘abnormal body shapes’, ‘ugly facial looks’ and ‘facial deformities’. 

Cristine Brache (2021). Courtesy the artist.

Meanwhile, Barker claims to consistently experience algorithmic bias. They noticed their first videos uploaded to TikTok attracted thousands of views, but after posting one that stated “billionaires are the burden not disabled people” it received below 50. Social media platforms enforcing and upholding systemic oppression is difficult to contextualise when accountability relies on ownership, which itself relies on isolating the individual oppressors. But it’s implausible to isolate individual oppressors when online networks are made up of various entities that produce and circulate content—from moderators, to UX and CX designers, to artificial intelligence. When these systems are made up of intricate multiplicities of human and non-human designed software, the question becomes how can we hold a platform accountable?

As systems advance, the technological solutions for moderating content will become even more complex, and therefore, ill-defined. By not defining shadow banning in the Terms of Service, platforms are being knowingly vague in order to bypass taking ownership for a tactic, which could be seen as restricting free speech. 

As Franklin outlined in her lectures, designs of technological apparatuses arise from a social structure, and this should be the focal point when examining emerging technologies. Likewise, Pepi’s mini manifesto ‘Elements of Technology Criticism synthesises a set of recurring principals, in order to critique the components of social networking systems, instilled in the design of applications like Facebook and Instagram. “Algorithms are made of people,” he outlines in point nine. “They are editors, they steer and privilege certain values, and are never objective.” As technology develops and censorship increases with the continuous amalgamation of our identities onto a grid, this begs the question, if you haven’t already been shadow banned for what you say, have you been saying anything at all?

Imagining the future in a time plagued with uncertainty

Episode 11.5 of Citarella’s Memes as Politics podcast was published in the midst of his shadow ban. Titled ‘Revolt Against the Big Tech World’, the artist hypothesizes a new era of the internet, one that resembles the Chinese model of social media.When asked over Twitch what his predictions are for the future of online censorship and Instagram in particular, Citarella gives a more modest answer. “I think online censorship is TBD. I think we have to learn some more about what is going to happen,” he says. “[The] general prediction is it will clamp down and become increasingly tighter.” 

Joshua Citarella, ‘e-deologies’ (2020). Courtesy the artist.

New York City’s downtown film account, The Ion Pack, reports similar symptoms of a shadow ban. The anonymous Instagram account posts a collection of memes referencing niche films, and video snippets taken from their podcast interviewing underground filmmakers. It’s an unlikely candidate for a shadow ban, considering they post no political content. “We think it might be just from being affiliated with accounts that are posting more political and controversial things,” the anonymous project writes via email. “We once reposted a meme to our story of Vincent Gallo’s dick in Brown Bunny that might have something to do with it.” 

When asked about the future, The Ion Pack foreshadows censorship only becoming worse. They predict a bleak setting, where an account will not only be algorithmically shut down for posting, but for searching controversial topics in private bowsers. “I’ve noticed my targeted advertisements are directly related to things I’ve talked about on Discord,” they explain. “It is pretty clear Instagram is gathering your information across different platforms.” 

The rise of Discord, Patreon and Substack could be viewed as a retaliation to censorship experienced on mainstream platforms. Citarella refers to the ‘Clear Net v Dark Forest’ model, created and theorised by Carolina Busta and the New Models community. The infographic categorises zones for online platforms based upon the user’s anonymity in the space. Defined by Busta in a widely circulated article for online journal Document, the ‘Clear Net’ includes publicly-indexed platforms, like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Here, users are subject to peer and state scrutiny, and can be censored via account deletion, content removal and shadow banning. In the ‘Dark Forest’, the infographic explains, “One forages for content… rather than accepting whatever the algorithms happen to match to your data profile”. These sites include Discord servers, paid newsletters, podcasts and encrypted group networks, like Telegram. Here, content can flow without being subjugated to algorithms and non-chronological timelines. The user can interact with a concealed identity, and their online activity will not impact real-name SEO (search engine optimisation), adding a layer of anonymity. 

It’s reassuring to see new online vessels that can act as facilitators of discourse, away from the censorship and algorithmically-driven content of mainstream social media. Yet, imagining a future without Instagram, is almost as hard as imagining a future without the internet. Perhaps, the way forward isn’t to restrict ourselves from platforms like these. Citarella outlines an alternative strategy, where Instagram operates as a phone book in which you find a link in the account bio leading you to a ‘Dark Forest’ space, like Patreon and then onto a Discord server. It’s hopeful to know online spaces exist in which anonymity can be a given, allowing for rigorous conversation, push back and controversy, because it’s an increasingly rare occurence on mainstream platforms today.**

Claudia Tilley is a Melbourne-based writer. She works in advertising & studies part-time creative writing.

Alignment, Folds of Existence, Nocturnal Sub.missions: American Medium’s WINTER SESSIONS series of events runs Dec 14 – Feb 3

13 December 2017

The WINTER SESSIONS: A Season of Events at American Medium begins December 14 and is running to February 3.

New York’s American Medium gallery will host a number of events at their space over the winter season, with three sections: Alignment presents readings, Folds of Existence presents a series of film screenings and a set of experimental performances in Nocturnal Sub.missions.

– Alignment will  feature two readers “at different points” on the same night to explore and create “relations, clashes, or comraderies that would not otherwise have occasion,” featuring Bunny Lampert + Cristine BracheAdriana Ramić + Mónica de la Torre, and Charles Theonia + manuel arturo abreu, among others.

– Folds of Existence is programmed by Lorenzo Ga‚orna and Mary Ancel, and brings together moving image works that mediate “the precarious boundaries between public space and personal psyche,” featuring over 2o artists including Benji Blessing, Rouzbeh RashidiBasim MagdyJodie Mack and more.

– Nocturnal Sub.missions will explore “dark dreamlands and lucidity of the everyday” over six nights and features gage of the booneAzumi Oe and Whitney Vangrin, plus others.

Visit the American Medium website for details.**

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The proliferation, fragmentation, the relic + the discarded in my fossil, my echo, my excess, my scrap at MX Gallery

28 July 2017

The my fossil, my echo, my excess, my scrap group exhibition at New York’s MX Gallery opened July 20 and is running to August 10.

my fossil, my echo, my excess, my scrap (2017) Installation view. Courtesy the artists + MX Gallery, New York.

Curated by Gabrielle Jensen and Julia Lee, the show includes work by Cristine BracheIsabel LegateCarmen NeelyKayode Ojo, and Patrice Renee Washington. The press release reads in four paragraphs, one for each part of the title, mapping out the relationship between the works in the context of ‘Fossilization anxiety,’ ‘The echo [as] an interruption of presence,’ ‘Excess [as] an ecstatic surrender to unknowing,’ and “The survivor of mutilated material, the scrap refuses to perform a whole.’

The works vary in medium, scale and approach to the curatorial premise but each respond to and explore the space of proliferation, fragmentation, the relic and the discarded. **

The my fossil, my echo, my excess, my scrap group exhibition is on at New York’s MX Gallery, running July 20 to August 10, 2017.

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Valuing oneself & unpacking the past with Cristine Brache’s I Love Me, I Love Me Not

20 February 2017

Cristine Brache’s solo exhibition I Love Me, I Love Me Not at New York’s Fierman opened February 10 and is running until March 19. 

The exhibition comes accompanied by a text, written by Brache and annotated by manuel arturo abreu, which moves between the first-person subjective experience of her Taíno, Puerto Rican and US-American identity and abreu’s theoretical footnotes that connect and challenge the ideas of the two artists. 

“With each pass, from vessel to vessel.6 
6 Brache presents works that speak to the coloniality of mestizx identity, with its simultaneous assimilatory striving and inexorable sense of loss: a maple domino table with colonial-style legs features porcelain Hoyle-clone playing cards instead of dominos on the raised playing area, which has been coated in the “flesh” tones of silicone.”
In addition, Blood No Memory was held on February 11 and included poetry readings by Brache, Rin Johnson, Jameson Fitzpatrick, and Cat Tyc.
Cristine Brache is an artist and poet who works between Toronto and Miami and recently exhibited Givens at Los Angeles’ AALA. Her first book of poems, I love me, I love me not via Químerica Books will be published in late 2017.**

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Selling out or buying in?: Looking at artists + their merch as an act of self-support

24 January 2017

For many contemporary artists, the notion of a lucrative art practice is an oxymoron. With it one becomes accustomed to perpetual labour, a mix of both paid and unpaid work, where everyone becomes burnt out. But there appears to be something interesting emerging from between the polarized economic model of being either successful or’unsuccessful’ as an artist; a desire for a more horizontal redistribution of wealth and to find financial autonomy from the institutional gatekeepers of an industry. The white-washed elephant in the room is the fact that the hierarchy of accomplishment is a biased one, steeped in structural violence. It comes as no surprise, then, that the evolution of making (for some) is in some ways attempting to sever the umbilical cord by producing and selling their own products.

Seema Mattu, ‘Seema Sox’. Courtesy the artist.

Making merchandise is obviously not a new concept, especially for those who are in the ‘business’ of spreading a message rather than a product. Artist/activist group Guerilla Girls have been selling affordable objects to support their cause since 1985. To acquire some form of monetary control, alternative income is a necessary tool for activists and under-represented artists. But it’s also a strategy employed in other contexts, from the gift shops and artist editions of larger institutions like ICA and MoMA PS1 (Zabludowicz Collection sells shoes and pins, jackets and vinyl records) to the work of successful artists critqueing capitalism.

Thinking back to the irony of Ryan Trecartin + Lizzie Fitch’s $78 Abercrombie Night Vision Sweatshirt, there seems to be a departure from the language of tongue-in-cheek gestures and towards a direction that is less self-serving. The commercial art world is uncomfortable and problematic. Institutions often exploit free labour in return for prestige, and arts funding applications require a lot of time and an administrative expertise that many artists just don’t have. In what often feels inaccessible, this climate of exclusion is creating an interesting backdrop against which people are engaging in a sincere exploration of how to support and maintain a sustainable practice.

Rafia Santana, ‘Yes’ sweatshirt. Courtesy the artist + Teespring.

The idea of ‘merch’ is for artists to create products to support and promote themselves, but at what point does ‘art’ become merchandise (and vice versa). Is it simply down to the price tag? Does this question even matter anymore? As we know, categories of making are continually bleeding into one another, and the distinction between ‘genres’ is becoming irrelevant.

There isn’t one method or definition, and the line is blurry when sold in editions (if the supply ends, the product will inevitably become more precious, making for a potential rise in value, regardless of the cheap price it was initially sold at). And while none of these modes are fully-fledged businesses — or the ideal answer to the problem of income — they are engaging with what feels like a fresh spin, the starting point of a real shift from status quo. Here’s to what happens next.

Below are some examples, in no particular order, of some of the ways ‘merch’ is being actualized by artists:

Cristine Brache, ‘Dog Tag’ (2016). Courtesy the artist.

Cristine Brache

The Toronto-based artist’s dog tag (2016) series was sold via her Instagram account for $30 each, but with only 50 editions. The work is categorized as ‘editions’ among others on her site and includes a s&h as well as a “signed and numbered certificate of authenticity”.

Seema Mattu

The London-based artist sells a range of prints, hats, socks, stickers among others things. Her work explores gender and ethnicity through digital media, welcoming negotiations and discussions to foster a flexible relationship with the buyer. Mattu explores the idea of commissions in that “some of it can be designed, recreated and sold in any which way somebody may want it.”

Athena Papadopoulos

For her upcoming show Belladonna’s Muse, opening March 17 at Rome’s Basement Roma CURA, the London-based artist will be selling (quite cheaply) pearl necklaces made by grandmothers in the community to go alongside the exhibition. She refers to them as trinkets and plans to make them unlimited and made-to-order on site. 

William & Co

A highly skilled potter and contemporary artist described by curator Kate Neave as having an “expanded ceramic practice,” the London-based artist explores the the relationship between art and function. The way these objects can be extended to the social, where you can purchase pieces from his website which often sell in a limited amount related to a current project.

18+, ‘Bitch’ (2014). Silk scarf. Courtesy the artists.

Rafia Santana

A New-York-based multimedia artist who sells sweatshirts, key rings, and more off her website. Santana’s products are scattered throughout her Tumblr-style website, taking away any category or hierarchy of making.

Steve Roggenbuck

The Tucson-based video artist and poet successfully lives off selling T-shirts and books through the publishing project he started called Boost House. Most importantly, he uses crowdfunding website Patreon which allows his fans to donate a small amount for each video he makes. You can ready more in our recent interview with him where he talks about the importance of keeping his work free on Youtube.  His Patreon supporters are often sent postcards and given personalised videos to keep in touch. Just like charity, acquiring money is always more successful through exchange: I’ll give you money as long as I know you’re going to run a marathon.


 “They’re not merchandise and not quite artworks either. They’re something in between,” says Samia Mirza of the bi-coastal art and production duo, including Justin Swinburne, about a range of silk scarves, featuring any number of appropriated images that make up their audio-visual oeuvre. “We’re making these things that happen to exist in these realms,” she adds in a 2014 interview with aqnb about selling clothing and accessories, in an act that’s as much a part of their practice as it is an income. 

Lonely Boys merchandise (2017). Courtesy the artists.

Lonely Boys

The music and artist project by Berlin-based artist Daphne Ahlers and Vienna-based artist Rosa Rendl, recently sold merchandise at Vienna’s Kurzbauergrasse for performance ‘Shortest Way to Confidence.’ While Lonely Boys is a band that produces merchandise, they still stand suspended between the realms of visual art and music, producing and performing in gallery spaces for events like 3hd Festival, and with the likes of fellow artist Philipp Timischl.  

Lu Williams

The London-based artist has both a craft-based and contemporary art practice, often bringing the two together in performance and installation. Inspired by racing girls, drag artists and hen nights, the current collection is called Hyperfemme and is “to be worn by anyone of any gender who wants to look femme as fuck.”

Stefanos Mandrake, ‘Black on black, (2016). Installation view. Courtesy the artist + LIFESPORT.


The anonymous collective sell sweatpants out of their gallery in Athens, recently opening a ‘shop’ in Berlin, with all proceeds directly support the exhibitions put on in the space. In a recent interview, aqnb spoke with LIFE SPORT about their reasons for selling sweatpants and the difficulty of getting funding as a nomadic project.**


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‘Accessing Economies’: an AQNB x Video in Common screening rundown

22 July 2016

With the accelerated pace of commodification and consumption of marginal identities (and spaces) globally, comes the question of, and tension between complicity and resistance in political art and social critique. Discourse is developing beyond ideas of visibility and representation to notions of assimilation into existing cultural paradigms, which is why AQNB was in Los Angeles to present the ‘Accessing Economies: Engagement & Withdrawal’ screening and reading at Club Pro LA on July 17 to interrogate the politics of identity within commercial or institutional spheres. 

It’s part of an ongoing series of screening, reading, performance and discussion events lead by editor Jean Kay and organised in collaboration with video production partners Video in Common, and follows similar events already held in London and Berlin –two key cultural centres in the art editorial platform’s network. Titled ‘The Future Is Here, It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed’ and ‘At the Backend’, together these earlier programmes interrogated the systems and infrastructures embedded in networked communication, and how this affects distribution, flows of information and power, as well as language, community-building and identity formation.

Meanwhile, ‘Accessing Economies’ carries on that conversation into the consequences of structural affiliations as both inspiring and influencing critical art practice, and creating new markets. Maria Gorodeckaya, for example, inverts the gaze through the lens of female sexual desire in ‘do it for me’, while Vika Kirchenbauer‘s queer subjects confront the high art voyeur with ‘YOU ARE BORING!’: “I mean, who wouldn’t want to fuck a work of conceptual art?”

Evan Ifekoya talks marginality as a lived position for AQNB/ViC editorial video commission ‘Genuine. Original. Authentic.’ and Sarah Boulton‘s poetry, read by  Ulijona Odišarija, passively lingers in the margins, outside of valuation, by dealing with what the artist describes as “what you don’t need to say, and not saying it”. Imran Perretta‘s ‘Untitled (work in progress)’ explores the privilege of apprehension and self-analysis for a work in progress video, while Ann Hirsch and Cristine Brache present two videos that concisely and consciously apply for access to systems of power and control, only to complicate and disrupt them when awarded it.  

Below is the full programme of video, audio and stills of the works presented in their running order:

Maria Gorodeckaya: ‘do it for me’ (2016) [5:11]

Moscow-born, London-based artist Maria Gorodeckaya explores the nature of women’s objectification,
reclaiming the gaze through the lens of the camera and re-directing it onto the male body. Inverting sexual power dynamics, Gorodeckaya’s work expands into poetry, sculpture and installation, building on her interests in desire and its suppression by religious, economic and institutional means.

Evan Ifekoya: ‘Genuine. Original. Authentic.’ (2015) [8:21 min]

London-based artist Evan Ifekoya discusses their ongoing music video series, questioning the notion of cultural or personal authenticity and what it means to be entertaining. Also working with collage, knitting and drawing, Ifekoya talks about deconstructing pervasive gender binaries, expressing the banality and importance of physical ‘making’.

Vika Kirchenbauer: ‘YOU ARE BORING!’ (2015) [13:44], ‘COOL FOR YOU – GIVEN YOUR CONVENIENT ABSENCE’ (2016) [2:25]

Berlin-based artist Vika Kirchenbauer looks at the transference of (certain) bodies and politics from subcultural to high art spaces and the new dynamics that emerge. In complicating ideas of performance and shifting the spectator’s perspective back on themselves, Kirchenbauer questions how power and self-understanding is renegotiated within an institutional framework.

Sarah Boulton: Poetry read by Ulijona Odišarija [2:59 min]

London-based artist and poet Sarah Boulton presents moments of inclusivity, engaging and implicating its audience directly or with distance, or both. Friend and fellow artist Ulijona Odišarija reads as a single clear voice without embellishment, expressing a certain creative ambience around perceptions and consciousness in relation to objects that refuse signification and thus capital value.

Imran Perretta: ‘Untitled (work in progress)’ (2016) [5:00 min]

London-based artist Imran Perretta explores the liminal space between socially and culturally constructed spaces, as well as the role of the body within that. Inscribed as they are with external assumptions, prejudices and, above all, concerns, Perretta’s film is an interrogation of white-washed narratives of privilege and their ideologies of self-actualisation, described in an aqnb review of his performance work as, “the over analyzed body in stark contrast to the under analyzed body”.

Imran Perretta, 'Untitled (work in progress)' (2016). Video still. Courtesy the artist.
Imran Perretta, ‘Untitled (work in progress)’ (2016). Video still. Courtesy the artist.

Ann Hirsch: ‘Here For You (Or my Brief Love Affair with Frank Maresca)’ (2011) [14:06]

LA-based artist Ann Hirsch interrogates (networked) media and its false assumptions of personal freedom. Placing herself in the externally constructed environment of a reality TV programme and its culture of constant surveillance, Hirsch surrenders to the mechanism of production, where she and 14 other contestants vie for the affections of ‘Frank the Bachelor’ on camera with no control on how they’re viewed, edited or represented.

Cristine Brache:, ‘Sequence 02 1’ (2016) [15:56 min], ‘finally people are reading about me’ [00:14 min] (2016)
[00:14 min]

Toronto-based artist and poet Cristine Brache shows marginal women’s bodies and their reproduction as objects in circulation. In complicating and questioning economic, political and sexual power relations as both oppressed and empowered, Brache’s at times fetishistic work expresses a tension between aspiring for access and visibility, and the means by which one achieves it.

aqnb x Video in Common’s screening ‘Accessing Economies: Engagement & Withdrawal’ was on at Club Pro Los Angeles, July 17, 2016.

Header image: Vika Kirchenbauer, ‘YOU ARE BORING!’ (2016) @ Club Pro Los Angeles. Screening view.

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