Eternal Boy Playground
Anxious to Make
(Liat Berdugo and Emily Martinez)
December 15th – February 2nd, 2019
Opening Reception: Saturday, December 15th, 6–9pm
Eternal Boy Playground is a show of new experimental media art by Anxious to Make – the artist collective comprised of Liat Berdugo (Oakland, CA) and Emily Martinez (Los Angeles, CA) – that critically explores the cultural tropes surrounding cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin. Focusing, specifically, on the migration of tax-dodging, crypto-entrepreneurs to Puerto-Rico, following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017, the show examines the utopian ideal of the “crypto-paradise” that these self-proclaimed “Puertopians” aim to realize. (“Puertopia” means “eternal boy playground” in Latin). Works in the show address technological rituals, disaster capitalism, crypto-colonialism, whiteness, and Western perceptions of tropical landscapes as sites of luxury and indulgence. What, the artists ask, does it means to re-colonize Puerto Rico in the image of a crypto-based, techno-utopian fantasy?
The installation over-saturates the gallery with custom wallpapering and fabrics, such as plush beach towels and scarves, printed with an original “crypto-tropical” pattern. It features a new, experimentally designed, coin-operated Bitcoin ATM, which prints “crypto-prophecies,” as if it were a fortune telling machine. A new video work explores the influx of digital wealth into disaster-strewn areas such as Puerto Rico with text drawn from online comment-threads, arguing over the possible consequences of entrusting the future of Puerto-Rico to newly minted cryptocurrency millionaires. And gallery visitors are invited to apply temporary tattoos to their skin, depicting how cryptocurrency works, what a blockchain is, and who benefits from this new technological economy. The tattoo images were commissioned, by the artists, from workers on the crowdsourcing website Mechanical Turk and have been gathered into a new book for the exhibition.
As a whole, the works in Eternal Boy Playground consider the intersections of technology, colonialism, wealth, culture, race, altruism, and exploitation through the lens of neoliberalism and crypto-utopian ideologies.
This work was made possible in part by the Foundation for Contemporary Art in New York, NY and supported by Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center’s Workspace Residency.
The Insufferable Whiteness of Being
Single-channel video, 11:23. Anxious to Make, 2018