Xavier Cha’s performance-based work revolves around modes of accessibility, exchange, and hierarchies of space and perception. Collaboration is often at play in her performances: Xavier has invited actors, dancers, musicians, programmers, cults, and clowns, among many other non-artist creatives, to not only participate in her projects, but also to become protagonists in the work. Through these events, Cha formalizes subjectivity within contemporary culture, isolating elements of production, perception and communication into bare, abstract and often illogical experience. In stripping away extraneous content, Xavier reveals phantasmic qualities of consumption, trends, and cultural engagement. Her work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space, The Kitchen, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (UK), the Sculpture Center, Asia Society Museum, and the Hammer Museum, among other galleries and museums throughout the United States and Europe. This year, Xavier was named a Guggenheim Fellow.
Limits of representation vary among social media networks. The ability of images to represent reality via these platforms is constrained not only by cultural and technological structures bearing on production and circulation but by terms and conditions of use. Xavier Cha’s commission for ♥ Like: A BOFFO Instagram Project presses against these conditions, presenting otherwise prohibited content by translating it into aural information. The posts are visually sparse, mimicking an operating system aesthetic. Spoken descriptions are clear and paced, articulating potentially offensive words with even emphasis and calm. Through this process of translation, Cha puts forth extreme images as dissociated sounds, pulled from a large and active cultural library but unable to circulate without risk. Sexual and violent images are thus introduced (perhaps inevitably) into a context that denies the pervasive presence of sex and violence in cultural fields. Skidding against a desensitized landscape of media consumption, the dissonance between the clinical aesthetic and tonal banality of Cha’s posts and the graphic nature of their source images highlights the distorting effects of social media while intimating a pervasive desire for a more open field of digital representation.