January 7, 2014

salt 9: Jillian Mayer

Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Jillian Mayer, Online Shopping, 2013. C-print, 30 x 20 inches. Edition of 5 + 2 AP. Courtesy the artist and David Castillo Gallery, Miami.

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) is pleased to present the first museum exhibition of Jillian Mayer’s work in its ninth installment of the Museum’s exhibition series introducing new and innovative art from around the world. salt 9: Jillian Mayer will present new photographic, video, installation, and Internet art made by the artist specifically for exhibition at the UMFA.

Engaging the ubiquitous selfie, duping Google Image, or subverting facial recognition software, Mayer’s newest body of work tosses aside the physical body to investigate modern identity formation online. Identity, online and IRL, is a fluid performance of multiple selves in constant construction, but online there is no place, need, or value for the real body. The mind, untethered by physical limits, can be free in its construction of identity.

While presenting tools to maintain online identities, Mayer exposes moments when the virtual world defines the physical world, creating an alternate reality. In salt 9 Mayer sets up scenarios, often using her own image, that bring attention to how Web 2.0’s architecture of participation is changing perceptions of truth and privacy as well as authorship and authenticity. By accepting the web’s uncontrollable context and by being open to malleable meaning, Mayer enlists an ever-expanding audience of collaborators and challenges the traditional artist/viewer relationship. Viewers become participants, collaborators, even active creators of content and meaning. Since Mayer uploaded her vlog I Am Your Grandma to in 2011, the bizarre one-minute video message to her future, unborn grandchild has received an ever-growing 2,553,850 views, 22,163 likes, 1,667 dislikes, and 7,310 viewer comments. Moreover, the YouTube post has spawned countless spoofs, including choreographed dances and remakes by five-year olds, an Internet troll, college students, Darth Vader, a fake plastic cat, Wes Borland, and a Cabbage Patch Kid.

But what does it mean to leave a timeless video message on YouTube for your unborn grandchild? To upload your soul to the Internet? To display all the world’s selfies on one website? Cloaked with commercial rhetoric and poppy soundtracks, Mayer’s short films, vlogs, and websites are designed for mass appeal but ask serious questions about human connection through and with the Internet. Like the hotly contested New Aesthetic, Mayer’s work illuminates an emergent worldview resultant from our increasing integration with digital technology and the World Wide Web.

Jillian Mayer (American, born 1984, lives in Miami) received her BFA from Florida International University in 2007. In 2010, her video Scenic Jogging was one of 25 selections for the Guggenheim’s YouTube Play: A Biennial of Creative Video and was exhibited at the Guggenheim museums in New York, Venice, Bilbao, and Berlin. Recent solo projects include Love Trips at World Class Boxing, Miami (2011); Erasey Page at the Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach (2012); and Precipice/PostModem at Locust Projects, Miami (2013). Mayer’s short films Life and Freaking Times of Uncle Luke (2012) and #Postmodem (2013) were selected to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. This past year, she was an artist in residency in Berne, Switzerland, as a Zentrum Paul Klee Fellow, in Greensboro, North Carolina, as an NEA Southern Constellation Fellow at the Elsewhere Museum, and in Sundance, Utah, as a New Frontier Story Lab Fellow. Currently, Jillian Mayer is preparing for an upcoming solo exhibition at the University of Maine Museum of Art.

salt 9: Jillian Mayer is curated by Whitney Tassie, UMFA curator of modern and contemporary art, and is supported by the UMFA Friends of Contemporary Art. salt aims to reflect the international impact of contemporary art today, forging local connections to the global and bringing new and diverse artwork to the city that shares the program’s name.

Download the salt 9 exhibition essay here:

Press contact:
Mindy Wilson, +1 801 581 7328
[email protected]

Free public programming:
Artist and curator in conversation
Thursday, January 16, 5pm

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