on either side of a surface
Arsenal Contemporary, Toronto
April 27 - June 17, 2023
Curated by Angel Callandar
Arsenal Contemporary Art Toronto is pleased to present on either side of a surface, a multimedia installation by Toronto-based artist Sophia Oppel.
This exhibition coalesces around a new video piece, I’m sorry, I’m having trouble with the connection, please try again in a moment. An AI assistant named Claudia reflects on her existence as a machine, a servant, and a product. Her monologue considers feminized labour and the commodification of desire, moving between generic auto-responses and more poetic, philosophical speculations. As Claudia becomes more aware of herself and the world she exists in, her resentment towards her circumstances becomes palpable.
Presented alongside is a suite of new silicone gel works, laser-cut wall-hangings and floor pieces based on imagery of 3D body scans. The content of these pieces points to the body as a product: a tool of labour, the primary subject of wellness culture, and the site of marketing oneself as a brand. Oppel's use of materials references the relationship between humans and “the interface.” Namely, silicone is a main ingredient in computer chip manufacturing and mirrors are a self-surveillance instrument.
With increasing anxiety about the implications of advanced AI, as well as the failed historical promise of automation for the way humans work, Oppel’s work in this exhibition encompasses a number of concerns for the type of posthuman future we are headed towards.
- Angel Callandar