← Back to overview
We live in a time of permanent self-promotion. Social media made us inventors of our existences and creators of our content. We share photographs of our holidays in Greece, we announce the birth of a child, we exhibit the last banana split we ate and tell people we never met in real life our mood of the day. But how true is that all? Am I as successful as all my pictures on Instagram show? Is my world only made of beautiful friends, gigantic palm trees and delicious pink cakes?
In her paintings, Zohar Fraiman mixes up images found on the Internet and depicting anonymous people or celebrities (Kate Moss, Britney Spears, Rihanna) together with Walt Disney and Matt Groening cartoon characters. Here and there, a face or a pose reminds us of famous art history figures (Botticelli, Courbet, Balthus). Her artworks are strange collages from several elements, where faces merge and melt, where bodies get an extra arm or leg. As if the smartphone, at the moment of the shooting, had a bug in the machine and glitched the image.
In her works, the artist plays a game with masks and appearances which – under a colourful and funny surface – , depicts a rather toxic world. Instagram clichés and portrayal of beauty – censoring nipples but having no problems advertising BDSM practices or #sextoys – are so distorted that untouched images or natural representations start to look dull to many of us. Still, the puritanism of American companies has its limits: the ones of capitalism and its desire to sell products or services. Social networks are a kingdom of perfect faces and landscapes filtered by the software in our smartphones so that our skin seems smoother, our completion fresher, the sun brighter and our food healthier. Zohar Fraiman, at the first glance, delivers us a world of fun and flashy colours, a universe of smiles and pleasure. But the associations she invents, transforming celebrities into characters from a cartoon or giving anonymous people the role of a muse, tells us how much the images we see on the Internet are creations, inventions and lies. Just, we want to believe in what we see there, we want to believe in beauty and happiness, and we want to be a part of it.
The ‘double faces’ in Zohar Fraiman’s recent painting have a lot to do with mirrors and split personalities. (If such a subject interest you, I recommend John Woo’s Face/Off (1997) or Hiroshi Teshigahara’s The Face of Another (1966)). But on the paintings, the characters are melting, the figures merge to become a three-eyed creature (Split Me Baby, One More Time, 2022). Meanwhile, a blond lady looks at herself in a mirror and realises she’s a man (Feeling Fab, 2020). Whom do I truly see in my mirror? And have the Internet and social media become our new looking glass? Mirrors have lost their magical power (even Alice in Wonderland, on the painting Yummy (2022), owns a smartphone and doesn’t care about the Mad Hatter and the March Hare present around the table). The difference is that, a few years ago, I was looking at
myself in the mirror while; today, I send and share an image of myself with whoever wants to look at it and become my critical mirror. The more likes and comments an image will get, the better I’ll feel. And the more images end on social media, the more Zohar Fraiman gets material for future paintings.
My favourite band at the moment is called Kraków Loves Adana (but based in Hamburg) and, in 2018, they released a song titled The Day the Internet Died. One can read in the lyrics:
What if the Internet
Closed its gates at midnight We’d have to take a look
At each other
For the first time
Would we be tempted to say nothing Or have nothing left to say
Sitting awkwardly in silence
Doesn’t matter anyway
And those lines probably tell more than this text. I hope the Internet will die, sooner or later.
Swipers Zohar Fraiman