Zoe Beloff, Alphabet of the Passions, in “Emotions Go to Work.”

Opening August 14, 2020

Ever since the 19th century, people have been collecting scientific data from the human body and cataloguing emotions. Today, technology is used to turn our emotions into financial assets. Smart devices try to gain our trust in order to compile information that turns our feelings into capital. In Emotions Go to Work, New York based artist Zoe Beloff explores where this evolution is taking us. Can these technological systems understand our feelings? Will emojis determine our emotional life? As technology takes on more and more emotional characteristics, how will they change the nature of our desires?

Emotions Go to Work presents itself as a cacophony of faces (human and nonhuman) which are either animated, illustrated or performed, alongside a series of symbols of old and new technological advancement. The multi-media installation comprising films, charts and figures that explore the interwoven history of human and machine through re-workings and pastiches of existing cultural material from our collective consciousness– from samples of early black and white cartoons to emojis, and from early kinetic experiments in film to slick advertorials.

From a laughing typewriter to the Internet of things (IoT), Emotions Go to Work asks what balance must be struck between creating helpful technologies and entrusting machines with the freedom to reshape us in their image.

This exhibition has previously shown at Ulrich Museum, Wichita USA (January – March 2020), Firstsite Gallery, Colchester, UK (January 18 – April 24 2019), Museum Dr. Guislain, Gent Belgium (11 November – 18 May 2018), Bourse de Travail, Valence (16 May – 4 June 2017), and FID Festival Marseilles (July 12 – July 18 2017). A set of three drawings from this show included in the exhibition “Babel Book Space” Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (February 5 – May 21 2018).

About Zoe Beloff:

Zoe Beloff grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland where she studied painting and drawing. In 1980 she moved to New York to study at Columbia University where she received an MFA in Film. She is an artist and filmmaker. Her projects often involve a range of media including films, drawings and archival documents organized around a theme. They include proposals for new forms of community; “The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society and its Circle 1926 – 1972” and “The Days of the Commune”, projects that explore relationships between labor, technology and mental states in “The Infernal Dream of Mutt and Jeff” and “Emotions go to Work” as well as the exploration of the orgins of cinema from a feminist perspective in “Charming Augustine” and “Shadowland or Light from the Other Side”.

Her current work address the relationship between American fascism in the 1930’s and its resurgence today. These new works “Exile”, “the Parade of the Old New” and “Between Worlds” focus on the status of the refugee and the undocumented in New York City and beyond. Both thematically and formally Beloff draws timelines between past and present helping us to imagine a future against the grain of reactionary ideology. She aims to make radical art that educates, entertains, and provokes discussion. Most importantly, as her work attests, she believes protest should be vibrant, humorous and colorful, a carnival of resistance to light the way in dark times.

Zoe’s work has been featured in international exhibitions and screenings; venues include the Whitney Museum Biennales 1997 and 2002, Site Santa Fe, the M HKA museum in Antwerp, and the Pompidou Center in Paris. However she particularly enjoys working in alternative venues that are free and open to the community for events and conversations. These have included in New York City; The Coney Island Museum, Participant, Momenta and The James Gallery at the CUNY Graduate Center. She has been awarded fellowships from. The Graham Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, The Radcliffe Institute at Harvard and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is a professor at Queens College CUNY.

Read more at zoebeloff.com

Zoe Beloff Interview with Julia Boorinakis Harper, FemExFilmArchive, 2018

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.