Traditional is not the modus operandi at Norwest Gallery of Art, located in the Grandmont-Rosedale neighborhood.
As part of Detroit Art Week’s ‘On View Exhibitions’ series, the gallery’s latest exhibition, “Tinder Moments,” dissects romance, intimacy, and modern-day dating via social media and dating apps.
But, it’s not all sweet and cuddly exchanges. Asia Hamilton, gallery owner and curator of the exhibit, collaborated with Sarey Ruden, an artist and designer known as SareyTales, to offer an artistic deep dive into the dating underworld. With use of mixed-media, interactive structures and imagery, the ladies ditch subliminal messaging and turn the travesties of online dating into evocative, thought-provoking visual pieces.
“I am not the one to do a traditional art show,” Hamilton says. “I’m excited to be able to share something different and something that might spark the attention you didn’t know that you had.”
Click on the player above to listen to CultureShift’s Ryan Patrick Hooper interview Asia Hamilton on dating culture, and read excerpts from the Q&A, edited for length and clarity, below.
CultureShift: What does the online dating scene end up looking like in your new show?
Asia Hamilton, Norwest Gallery of Art: It’s really coming from personal experiences. It’s an illustration of what we go through on a day-to-day basis interacting with people on these websites.
These people are strangers, they’re either putting their best-foot forward or they’re putting their disguise forward. You never know what you’re going to get.
When we have that computer screen in front of us, or when we’re typing into our mobile phone, it does end up representing sometimes a nasty side of online dating.
Yeah, absolutely. You ever heard of beer goggles? There’s online goggles. For real. People definitely put on a different persona when they’re online. They have a whole lot more courage when it comes to being on the other side of a computer. You can pretty much say anything, and it’s like, what you gonna’ to do?
Tell me a little bit about the artwork that you’ve got in the show.
I really focus on how I perceive myself online.
My pieces are video installations of how you transform the face or how you transform yourself to be presentable for an audience. I focus on this thing where you carefully curate yourself in putting on this persona for other people. I talk about my experiences. I started online dating immediately after my divorce. And I really didn’t have a whole lot of time to be going out, plus I don’t really like going out.
I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to deal with the numbers. Meet a ton of people, but not really, and kind of weed them out until I find something interesting. I talk about different things where people have status symbols. One major thing, we’re going to have a 3-D printer printing Magnum condoms. Magnum condoms is about compensation or a status symbol. Like, oh, ‘I’m wearing a Magnum so I’m the sugar-honey iced tea.’ This installation is focused more so on how it’s a perception of something that might not even be true.
For you personally as an artist and someone coming out of a divorce that got into online dating, what sort of truth and honesty did you find out about how you present yourself online?
The classic, the face look. I am a heavy-set women, I mean, I’m fine, don’t get me wrong, but people definitely censor themselves when it comes to showing their body or showing who they are. A lot of my work early on photographing nude women was just a way of showing that all bodies are beautiful. And it was just a realization that, you know what, I’m going to show myself how I am all the time. If you love it, you love it, if you don’t, you don’t. Those are the people that you want to attract anyway. That was a personal thing that I had to overcome. Just show your whole self and be yourself regardless.
Another thing that I learned from online dating is just what I like and what I don’t like. What I will and what I will not tolerate. I’ve definitely ran into some crazies, but I’ve ran into some really awesome people too who are genuinely still my closest friends.
Isn’t that just part of the process?
That’s part of the process! But that’s the process of life. What’s the difference of meeting somebody online as opposed to meeting some random stranger in the club, or meeting somebody at church, or meeting somebody at the store, or where ever. It’s just a different platform to meet someone.
Yeah, because someone that you could meet online could be just as freaky as someone you met at the church.
And definitely that has happened. Maybe not to me, but I’m sure that has happened in real life.
“Tinder Moments” opens at Norwest Gallery on July 19 as part of Detroit Art Week, which runs from Wednesday, July 17 through Sunday, July 21.