Critics’ Picks

Will Fredo, TRAMA, 2018, video, color, sound, 8 minutes.

Miami

“[Unsubscribe]”

Supplement Projects
Miami
June 15–August 4, 2019

“[Unsubscribe]” is framed as a show about artists who “engage questions of e-identity formation and social interactions that play out in our imaginations,” exploring the avatars we embody online and offline. It’d be shopworn territory if it weren’t a red herring. The exhibition, set up in a house gallery in Little Haiti, one of Miami’s most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, mines the internet not simply as a place where real and unreal blur but as a space populated with the same entrenched prejudices that fuel every other system.

In his video TRAMA, 2018, which casts a literal and figurative light on the rest of the works, Will Fredo combines footage of his Guatemalan mother’s search for her family (she was kidnapped as a child) with a barrage of other media, including clips of the telenovela that inspired the popular “cries in Spanish” meme and a recording of the indigenous Guatemalans’ occupation of the Spanish embassy in 1980, which resulted in the deaths of almost forty activists at the hands of the police. Here, memes referencing dramatic Latinx temperaments have historical roots; they’re funny until they’re not. Like the character in the aforementioned meme, Fredo’s mother “thinks in Spanish” about the family she lost, as one subtitle reads. Danny Agnew, of Miami’s Roots Collective, extends this critical reflection on meme culture with a T-shirt that reads “Black Is an Algorithm,” pointing to white culture’s plumbing of blackness for style, affect, and humor (black Twitter is often the birthplace of internet jokes). Joiri Minaya’s #dominicanwomengooglesearch, 2016, provides the most potent summary of the Web’s racial politics. Print-outs from her titular search query are attached to plastic boards suspended from the ceiling: Akimbo arms, exposed bellies, and “tropical” prints abound. If the internet, never neutral, perpetuates these stereotypes as much as anything else, its decolonization is necessary, too.