Will U BE MY FBF -a Portrait Show About Facebook, Friends, and Identity Theft
As described by curator, Geoffrey Person:
“Who is Roxanne and Why should we care? Pop-surrealist painter and illustrator, Jeff Szuc, posses timely questions regarding online identities and their truthfulness to the subjects who post them in his third exhibition at the O’Connor gallery. His appropriation of the online identity Roxanne (from another individual who may or may not exist), exemplifies the mistruths that pepper social networking websites and the rest of the online world as well. How much greater is the lie of an online identity when it permeates the entire person rather than simply an exaggeration of machismo, intelligence, or popularity? … In his most recent exhibition, will U B My FBF, Jeff Szuc combines the inter-dimensional nature of the Five by Seven Project with the intimacy of the portraits from Animalia. After creating a false identity on Facebook under the name Roxanne, Szuc ‘friended over three-hundred unknown profiles. Over the course of several months he accessed intimate details from subjects whom he had only virtually (and who most probably do not know that Jeff Szuc exists).
The exhibition consists of six contemporary traditional portraits of Roxane’s Facebook friends. In addition, Roxanne contributed three typographic paintings of messages she received to her profile. Finally, Roxane and Jeff Szuc collaborated on a work that combined their figurative and typographic skills. While each painting is a fully developed work, as an exhibition, the works underline the interaction between Szuc and Roxanne.
Instant messaging through online profiles makes the ease of lying a sweet temptation – whether it is adjusting a few physical statistics or creating an entire new personae. Jeff Szuc has appropriated Facebook’s social networking and used the intimacy of portraiture to inform us of this potential.
While Facebook may tell us that Roxane is a girl with 315 friends, this exhibition exposes Roxane as a culture-jamming tool used to highlight the easily manipulated nature of online personae and communication. Society has been impacted by the duel between face-to-face interaction and virtual communication making Jeff Szuc’s works very relevant.