Utopia Without You
September 6 – October 13, 2018
Utopia Without You, an exhibition of new sculptural works by Tabitha Nikolai, includes a custom gaming PC with unique controller, a wargaming diorama, and digital 3d environments with original score by Rook. This project is funded in part by the Regional Arts and Culture Council.
Utopia Without You is an elegy for American liberalism using the novel and nested forms of insulation that have helped make its death so palatable. Fashioned as a kind of gamer den of the apocalypse it ruminates on trans-pessimism and isolation as a Pyrrhic survival technique. Nestled within the velvet trap of the den there is freedom from visibility: both the threat of violence, and the horrors of being consumed like so many ill-digested ally cookies. Conversely, the Skinner box of the digital attenuates one to some combination of viciousness and vapidity. This is the bind, finding human connection in a way that acknowledges and transcends the pain of the real while evading the hunter's snares.
Special thanks to Jesse Mejia, Francesca Frattaroli and the PCC Cascadia Fab Lab for their technical prowess and generosity. Thanks to Matt Leavitt for his assistance fabricating the controller base.
Tabitha Nikolai is a trashgender gutter elf and low-level cybermage raised in Salt Lake City and currently based in Portland, Oregon. Her artwork manifests as text, videogames, cosplay, and earnest rites of suburban occult. She is sometimes a stray cat and an attractive nuisance who is interested in reinvention, resistance, resilience, and making pocket worlds with people she loves. In the past she has taught at the Pacific Northwest College of Art and Portland State University, but is now a recovering academic. Her work has been shown at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Vox Populi in Philadelphia; and Ganka Gallery in Tokyo. She hopes you're doing okay.
Images by Mario Gallucci