Over the course of their online residency at Fact, Unbonded on a Bonded Domain, Gabriel Massan constructs a virtual ecosystem built around emotional experience and structural critique.
In their rendering of emotional experience as the raw material for their work, digital artist Gabriel Massan takes cues from writer and academic Saidiya Hartman’s notion of ‘critical fabulation,’ a practice of including fictional detail alongside factual material to fill in the blanks left in the archival and historical record of Black history. “I don’t know how many digital sculptures I’ve made,” they admit, “but it all feels like archeological research.” Seeking to align their experiences growing up in Rio de Janeiro, coming of age in Sao Paulo and relocating to Europe, Massan excavates a virtual space in which to more closely examine the political and cultural structures within which they are entangled, without having to use their physical identity as a lens.
In this way, Massan’s practice of world building can be understood, in Hartman’s terms, as “a way of naming our time, thinking our present and envisioning the past which has created it.” Over the three episodes of the artist’s online residency at Fact, Unbonded on a Bonded Domain, the artist explores a virtual ecosystem untethered both from their own identity and the physical and conceptual limitations of the human body, performing speculative scenarios to investigate how queer club culture, systemic violence and virtual identities can help us map out the material world and our relationships with it.
“I think it comes from an understanding that all of the things that my family and I went through in my life were part of a wave, or part of an ecosystem,” Massan says of their approach. “When I took my individuality out of this process, I could better understand how my identity, even though it clashed with that ecosystem, had another self, or another consciousness, that was more related to my feelings and my personal emotions, not only to my background.” By looking past the human, to entities sculpted to fill in the blanks left in the disconnection of Massan’s experience with socio-political systems built without them in mind, the artist invites us to share in that experience, to contribute to the worlds they continue to build.
You can find Gabriel Massan on Instagram.
Unbonded on a Bonded Domain Credits: