Jon Rafman: I have ten thousand compound eyes and each is named suffering at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam

Jon Rafman, Installation View. Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, 2016
photo: Thorsten Arendt

 

Jon Rafman: I have ten thousand compound eyes and each is named suffering opens at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Immerse yourself in another reality through the installations of the Canadian artist Jon Rafman. Explore the far-flung corners of the web in the world of avatars, online subcultures and fetish communities.

In his video films and installations, Rafman explores the social effects of digital media. The artist is fascinated by how the boundless possibilities of the Internet and virtual platforms affect and redefine our behavior, social life, and even personal identity. In his work he oscillates between wit, melancholy and alienation. Rafman is regarded as one of the leading artists of the digital age, and has a huge online following.

Jon Rafman, Installation View. Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, 2016
photo: Thorsten Arendt

 

online subcultures

Like a visual anthropologist, Jon Rafman delves into the subcultures of the online world, analyzing the behaviors of users of multiplayer video games and 3D virtual communities like Second Life in his videos. His work is frequently populated by obsessive characters whose lives revolve around gaming and other digital activities, and who are possessed by a hyper-individualized mindset that exists somewhere between real life and digital reality. Now, in 2016, as the first virtual reality goggles like Oculus Rift and MicrosoftHoloLens are being marketed for commercial use, immersion in a world where reality and virtuality overlap will become a mainstream experience for a broad public. Rafman’s work offers a nuanced exploration of this phenomenon, without moralizing or making judgments. His videos and installations are witty and full of wonderment, yet often tinged with a profound melancholy.

another reality

Rafman’s installation comprising a selection of recent work occupies galleries 0.28 and 0.29 (the inner exhibition spaces of the design circuit) and gallery 1.16 on the upper floor. The works are embedded in an environment of atmospheric blue light, creating for the viewer a sensation of stepping into another reality. Visitors can take a seat in one of the furniture sculptures, or even isolate themselves completely from the museum’s public, losing themselves in a world of avatars, online subcultures, and fetish communities in the far-flung corners of the web.

The title of the exhibition, I have ten thousand compound eyes and each is named suffering, originates from Rafman’s film, Erysichthon (2015).

The exhibition is curated by Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen.

Jon Rafman, A Man Digging, 2013. Video Still.
Courtesy of the Artist.

 

Jon Rafman, Erysichthon, 2015. Video Still.
Courtesy of the Artist.

 

Jon Rafman, Still Life (Betamale), 2013.
Courtesy of the Artist.

 

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam – Museumplein 10, 1071 Amsterdam
21 May –14 August 2016