Monday, October 24, 2022

Watching Me, Watching You

Photography and Videography | Brian Rope

Watching Me, Watching You | Jemima Campey

Tuggeranong Arts Centre Foyer | 8 to 29 October 2022

Jemima Campey (Ngunnawal/Ngambri lands) graduated from the Australian National University in 2021 with degrees in English and Visual Arts. She is currently completing her Honours in Visual Arts.


Campey makes photos, performances, installations and films. Through the use of appropriated and reworked materials which are borrowed from a day-to-day context, she touches various overlapping themes and strategies, including performance and contemporary culture. Her text and photographic works are often deeply personal, providing insight into her act of making art.


I’ve previously seen only a little of Campey’s artwork – videos in which she examined the phenomenon of the ‘apology video’, exploring how the spread of social media was impacting and re-shaping the nature of peoples’ emotions.


In this exhibition, Watching Me, Watching You, she has worked with both appropriated material and newly created photographs, and presents a selection of her recent works, united by their focus on the intersections of contemporary culture, online behaviours, and performance.


She has drawn from her own experiences growing up during the rise of social media and from the writings of Rayne Fisher-Quaan, a Canadian political commentator who, aged seventeen, created the organisation March for Our Education to lead student actions protesting the repeal of the sex education content of a Health and Physical Education curriculum.


Campey has used video and photography to make sense of some aspects of online life and subcultures that may not be well known to those who do not engage with particular trends or online platforms. A 500cm long inkjet print titled Doomscrolling reveals the types of interactions that might be read on some platforms, such as Pinterest. Here is just a tiny section of the text on the scroll:


SHE IS BEAUTIFUL. HER BODY IS BEAUTIFUL. With that said, she is clearly tilting a lot and flexing to make herself look thinner and more toned. she’s also using the clothing to her advantage to make her body look how she wants, which is her right, just remember that everything on the internet can be so tainted and altered from its natural state.


And one response to that:


yesss, thank you also notice that she like purposely took her shirt off for the pic


We all know that social media can infiltrate almost every part of our lives. We can present ourselves to others in whatever way we choose. Some opt to perform for their audience, whom they may or may not know, to create the image they wish to portray. Doing so raises such questions as “What are the impacts of adopting a moral superiority within your online persona and brand?”


Campey does not claim to answer these questions. Rather, she considers how authenticity and perception come into play in various online spaces, such as dating apps.


That’s All I Have to Say (a 9-channel digital video which runs for a little over three minutes) is intriguing. It is important to put on the headphones and listen to the words spoken by numerous people whilst viewing the images scattered on the screen.


That’s All I Have To Say. 2021. Still from video 03_07

Lovers’ Hands, (a ten-minute long looped video screening within a lovely and very small handmade frame) is also well worth close inspection.


Lovers Hands (2021). Installation image supplied. Digital video and handmade frame. 10_02, looped

There is a performance video piece, Routine, showing the artist herself engaging in a somewhat drawn-out and surreal process performing wellness and wellness-related activities – skincare, vitamins, hair brushing and so on.


Routine (still) 27_45. 2022


And to complete this modest but thoughtful exhibition, there is just one photograph. It is a self-portrait, Saint Belle, again focussing on the wellness industry, which is booming as consumers spend on products to improve their health, fitness, nutrition, appearance, sleep, and mindfulness.


Saint Belle. 2022. Inkjet print, 84.1x59.4 cm

This review was first published online on 17/10/22 by the Canberra Times here and then in print (page 27) on 24/10/22. It is also available on the author's blog here.