Stepping on dog shit is inevitable. There is nothing you can do about yourself, the only thing left to do is cry out to your friends to watch out and not make the same mistake. Filip Olszewsk and Bunny Rogers stepped on the Internet’s shit and their cry was a two-piece installation presented at the 319 Scholes gallery.
The installation If I Die Young curated by Gene McHugh, borrowed its name from the country pop song “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry. Like many other popular songs on the Internet, it has been covered by numerous people. The artists went through nine hundred covers made from children 4 to 16 years old and picked twelve to be played over twelve black speakers in the front room of the gallery. Individually, the speakers made you listen to each version. Moving at the centre of the room, the speakers coordinated to produce this choir of children voices singing about dying in a young age. As with most things on the Internet, we can only assume their motivations but it’s difficult to imagine that these kids know anything about the song’s meaning. Being a child means that you don’t necessarily fully understand what you are exposed to.
The second room of the gallery made the case for ignorance of exposure more prominent. Ten custom-made twin size blankets hung on the walls of the rear room. Their color was rendered from the average color of pictures of children taken from child modeling agencies. Embroidered on them was the name of these agencies. “It’s popular to gift blankets to children,” Bunny explained the symbolism behind the use of that medium, “and baby blankets are embroidered with the names of children.”
Even though the rooms were different in their look, they created a unified effect in a gallery known for tech-heavy installations. Both of the rooms toned down the pace of a gallery that is known to move at a fast pace. “Soft sounds and soft fabrics,” as one member of the audience told me. The choice of mediums was also the central theme of another observation from the audience who saw the two rooms as opposites. The individuality of the sound opposing the anonymity of the color of the photograph. This opposing attribute of the two rooms gave us this beautiful yet sad picture of an innocence lost and of a childhood objectified by adults.
“If I Die Young” is thematically a similar work with the artists’ previous collaboration “Sister Unn’s” Both deal with issues of loss and youth. For them, these issues are something that affects and bothers them, so when they stumbled upon the almost nine hundred covers of the “If I Die Young” song they cried out about the shit they stepped on. Now it’s our job to listen carefully and not step on them…
The exhibition opened on March 28th and went until March 31st, but you can always visit the website made with content relevant to the exhibition.