Children as Internet Things for Adults: “If I Die Young”
at 319 Scholes

March 31, 2013 | Marina Galperina

Bunny Rogers and Filip Olszewski were very particular about the color of the twin-size vladmodels.ru, Ukranian Nymphets and H.M.M. H.M.M. H.M.M. H.M.M. twin-size blankets. They wanted each in the exact shade of the average pixel color of a source image — each a watermarked photo of suspect-sounding child-modeling agency site. The seamstresses had to embroider the sites’ satiny logos exactly.

The blankets hang at the “If I Die Young” show in the low-lit back room of 319 Scholes — unsettling net artifacts made physical, made intimate. The fuzziness says “mmm, blankie.” The satin trim says, “bed.” Bunny’s unyielding glare seems to say “yes, you’re looking at that.”

In the front room, unassuming black speakers play 12 covers of the Band Perry’s “If I Die Young” mega hit. The mainstream lamentations of a blonde fresh teen-esque country-pop media-meat about dying young are creepy enough. The YouTube covers by little girls (average age: 9), many egged on by their questionable parental units, are creepier. The audio stripped from 12 selects — Filip says he listened to 900 — layered in a strained chorus, filling the space is intense, enough to nudge you into an existential ditch. “I don’t think know what they know what they’re saying,” Filip says.

“Children on the internet are really just things for adults,” curator Gene McHugh explains. Once the media is made by and/or of a child, consent is ultimately surrendered.

This fetishism of child performance is an aspect of internet culture that’s uncomfortable to address critically. This collaborative show does, ambitiously so, by immersing, commodifying and, ultimately, confronting. It’s internet-sourced art without ironic appropriation, without attempts at beautifying — a fully collaborative, stand-out, relevant show. It’s also FUCKED UP.

See the show’s companion website Vailmodel.com and catch the show today before it closes between 2pm and 6pm. Audio courtesy of the artists. If I Die Young,” Bunny Rogers and Filip Olszewski curated by , (Open Today from 2pm-6pm), 319 Scholes, Brooklyn