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Why Are We So Obsessed with Self-Identification on Social Media?

Digital artist and Tumblr queen-turned-curator Molly Soda examines our networked relationships in new exhibition, 'SAME,' at STREAM gallery.
Molly Soda in front of SAME works. Photos by the author

Think about the amount of times you’ve seen the word “same” or the eloquent declaration “me rn” written by a friend, acquaintance, or complete stranger on your newsfeeds, dashboards, and timelines. A stranger telling another stranger how "they can relate" could be a concept straight out of a dystopian sci-fi, but it’s become an ingrained part of how people digitally interact today.

This networked form of interaction serves as the basis for Molly Soda’s SAME, the latest exhibition at STREAM, a gallery only in its second year, but already becoming a force for innovation art in its Brooklyn neighborhood. Soda, a prolific digital-artist-turned-curator, had only interacted with the four artists featured in the exhibit in an online context. Yet, she found herself identifying with their works and the themes inherent in them.


Me Vs. Others, Laurence Philomène, 2015

The works in SAME operate on an emotional spectrum that reflects viewers' own tendencies towards self-identification with seemingly personal elements, probing the complexities of individual experience in seemingly multitudinous scenarios. Untitled (2015), one of several portraits by Nooran Matties, shows a young girl sitting on a kitchen floor gazing into an open refrigerator with her back turned towards the camera. The act of the image is relatable (who has never stared into the light of a refrigerator, momentarily frozen in its splendor?), but the dark tones of the image and the woman’s slouched body language suggest a darker, hidden story behind the image’s relatable nature.

Artist Brie Moreno presents a series of comic illustrations in the exhibition. An oddly proportioned black-and-white figure goes through the motions of a daily routine that includes frequent meditations on anxieties and issues as she struggles to accomplish what she's set out to do. The text in each square is spaced unevenly and disordered, furthering the idea of a struggle with and against the mundane.

 Caught, Molly Soda, 2015

Soda, who contributed two large blankets printed with voyeuristic portraits, opted to create and curate SAME as a change of pace to how she approaches her art. “Doing something physical is very different from my regular practice, which is almost always done digitally and disseminated [usually] on Tumblr,” Soda tells The Creators Project. While she seems content with the exhibit, she feels “somewhat dissatisfied in the accessibility,” as a fixed physical location is much harder to experience than images on a Tumblr Dashboard.


SAME, exhibition view

SAME, exhibition view

To see the works of these artists, as well as a photographic series by Laurence Philomene and videos by Sarah Cohen, visit STREAM at 1196 Myrtle Ave in Brooklyn until this Sunday, August 23rd.


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