sarah long (b. 1995) is a non-binary multi-media artist living and working in Cincinnati, Ohio.
My work involves simulation: a sensual coexistence of digital, 2D and 3D media. Viewers experience introspection within an installation that is mediated by curated illusory space, objects, and surfaces. My process occurs under conglomerations of media anxiety and introspection. This is in effort to mock the nuanced coexistence of all media in contemporary culture but also how much thinner the bars between reality and fantasy have worn in recent history. I address concerns with how we, as a society, feel about ourselves and the hybridized environments we occupy, and cope with the constructions filtering our perception.
Capitalism constructs idealized scenarios, erases histories, builds institutions of qualification, incites violence and obligations to law as a ploy to control masses, sell certain profitable lifestyles, and integrate any alternative culture into its machine of abuse. It attributes false value to certain people, beliefs, positions, genders, classes, places, conditions over others, under the guise of need or truth. It pretends to be honest in it’s manipulation of your perception. My work serves to imitate these communications with a metaphysical angle including modes of saturation, angst, iridescence, and criticality.
Are your thoughts even yours? Do you own yourself? Are all physical things real? Are memories dead? We are all dead and alive, real and fake simultaneously.
In my thesis work from UC DAAP’s BFA program, I wanted to sell you the void, tricking you to see value within it. How does the context of our environment alter our identities as human beings? Are our eyes able to capture the truth of what we see? What do we value as a society? I use discarded objects, costuming, abstract forms, poetry, performance, appropriation, documentation, and mixture of organic and metallic to highlight the boundaries between personal and public and acknowledge the difference between what you see and what’s actually there.
After my thesis has wrapped up, I have since moved into an artistic inquiry that wholly embraces the fluidity of perception, fantasy and identity. I use digital media more intensely as a means of manipulation of the viewers but also the materiality of the objects and characters being viewed. I have been using Photoshop as a tool to subvert and resist common commercial photographic editing techniques and create an escapist absurdity. Fabric, metal, foam and plaster serve to conceal, bind, support, reveal, hang, and accessorize these abstracted photographic forms.
Most recently, I have been fabricating photo-objects that I hope will combine in an immersive narrative about abjected fantasy. Abjection is the gut wrenching, depressive feeling we get when presented of reminders of our flawed grasp of meaning (Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror). In order to cope with this abjection, I make phantasmagorical objects that hybridize, becoming a meta-physical façade of a post-truth, post-gender environment that may only currently exist in the microcosms of the internet. It is mock utopia of Donna Haraway’s cyborg dreams but one that employs its dystopic realities to its advantage. I have a lot of questions about possession that I am constantly rumaging through my head as I make, in a cultural and a spiritual sense. I recognize that my work’s reality depends on how the viewers project onto it. I occupy a rather nihilistic headspace where nothing is real and the fantasy is all I have.