Tate Modern

Frances Stark until 3 December 2018

Boiler House Level 4 East

In the animated film My Best Thing 2011, online communication turns from sex to conversations about art, life and politics

American artist Frances Stark often makes works drawn from her real life experiences. My Best Thing is based on transcripts of online video chats between the artist and two European men. Stark worked with free-to-use software to create an animated film from these conversations. The programme generated toy-like avatars for the artist and these two strangers. Her avatar has a soft American voice, while the two men speak with a crude computerised Italian accent.

Over a series of eleven episodes, Stark meets the men online to have virtual sex via webcam. The sex acts they describe are not represented on screen, in fact the avatars never touch. Their conversations become increasingly varied, covering philosophy, art, unemployment and political activism. Music video and film clips shared by the characters as part of their chats are included in the film.

The characters also share anxieties about their lives. Stark’s avatar worries about making work for a prestigious art festival, the Venice Biennale (where this film was eventually shown). The men talk about unemployment and boredom in recession-era Europe. Unsettled personal and professional situations intensify the desire to connect with one another.

For all its humour, My Best Thing poses challenging questions about intimacy, language and philosophy in the digital age. Social networks are often criticised for making our interactions shallow and inauthentic. Stark explores how these new models for communication can result in meaningful connections and unexpected discoveries.

Curated by Mark Godfrey and Valentina Ravaglia


Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG
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