The intimacy of friendship, Derrida writes, lies in the sensation of recognising oneself in the eyes of another. But what chance do we have of truly seeing another in a world increasingly reduced to pixels, (binarised) swiping, and blocking?
In a moment where societies are supremely polarised and fake-news permeates oft undetectable, it begs to question what has precipitated this shift. One speculation could begin with the way society is atomised into distinct family units and how increasingly, connecting is considered something done via social media. Hyper-connectivity and infinite information access give the impression of being able to know anything and anyone at once, and caught-up in the fast-pace of neoliberalism (the brainwashing endures the pandemic) we can suffer from the pressure to know more than is humanly possible as we skim-read headings in the same breath as friends’ posts.
Capitalism both assumes intimacy to occur primarily between romantic partnerships and promotes the idea of success being attributed to a lone individual. Isolated and in competition with one another, capitalism thrives on the myth of the individual, attempting to negate that we are all entangled with the ideas and affects of others. In a society where friendship (like everything else) is co-opted by capitalism to be transactional, shallow, and disposable, subverting these conventions to create intimacy as well as acknowledging ones interconnectedness can be pivotal. “If capitalism works by dismembering transformative relationships” carla bergman and Nick Montgomery ask in Joyful Militancy, “can friendship be revalued as a radical, transformative form of kinship?”
In the work for Spaces of Faux Intimacies, Drago troubles these capitalist assumptions by diving into intimate conversations with several of their close friends and comrades, exploring intimacy not only as the subject, but as a process by inviting discomfort, challenging social anxiety, and through broaching difficult topics to explore vulnerability. These conversations are later transcribed carefully keeping the voice of each speaker in tact, and fragments are woven together to create a dialogue. Through the anonymity of the format and the intimacy provoked by the process, Drago’s confidants share their impressions of what it means to exist under digital-capitalism.
Text arranged by Lou Drago
Music and sound design by Valentino Mora
In conversation with Wanda Gaimes, ZD Harris, Mmakgosi Kgabi,
Pedro Marum, Paul Mernagh, heather purcell and Camilla V. Barratt-Due
New Feathers was commissioned for the Spaces of Faux Intimacies exhibition curated by Katerina Gnafaki at Centrum, Berlin, DE
This piece was also read in one of the rooms at Grand ReUnion’s Tender Hotel on February 20th 2021