You are all a bunch of inveterate narcissists. Well maybe not all of you, but statistically speaking, a great many people are. According to YouTube, 300 hours of video is being uploaded to its site every minute, and much of it makes the satirised inanities of the vlogger from Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe look positively essential. It’s the age of instant information and equally instantaneous opinion-as-fact. The age of self-promotion, self-regard, and selfies, in which the easily digestible and immediate DIY visual image has become the fast food of our e-lives: cheap to produce, in one end and out of the other leaving nothing behind but a little deposit of mental cholesterol and a faint feeling of guilt.
Into this landscape of Snapchat impermanence comes Erin M. Riley and her tapestries that are absolutely not like your granny used to sit in front of the fire making. These hand-dyed, hand-woven works retain the intrinsic value instilled through laborious production, but her subject matter is pure Instagram – in fact many of the source photos for this collection originated on that site, as well as Tumblr, Facebook, and her own phone. Riley, however, believes there’s more to these snapshots of thonged arses and push-up bras than meets the eye. The Brooklyn-based artist is prompted into wondering about the essence of the people behind the poses, and of their greater significance to the world beyond a mere physical presence. In the poem When Death Comes, Mary Oliver writes “and each body a lion of courage, and something precious to the earth”, and in her tapestries Riley searches for that which makes her subjects worthwhile, however worthlessly they are viewed. Something Precious runs at Soze Gallery, West Hollywood, from 21 February to 19 March.
Fans of subverted tapestry work will also enjoy Michelle Hamer’s pixelated delights.