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Xavier Cha: Disembodied Selfie

Xavier Cha: Disembodied Selfie

Xavier Cha: Disembodied Selfie
October 18 2013
“Disintegrating into a continuous and fluid being. Everything the same. Molten, hard, rubbery, and thick. My body, the institutional surroundings, that wall, light and image, sound, my body, the air, waves, every living thing, the universe, all thought, memory, all understanding, everything. All exactly the same. I am no form, no structure, intersecting every direction at once, grotesquely flipping inside out over and over again. I stood on this floor in this room in this building but my self oozes continuously beyond this body, no beginning or end, no difference.” —Excerpt from Xavier Cha, Disembodied Selfie, 2013

Discretion advised: this project contains nudity.

Disembodied Selfie by performance, choreographer, dancer, and visual artist Xavier Cha was a performance piece that explored the psychological and sexual dimensions of the “selfie,” and the broader culture of sharing confessional, confrontational, and highly vulnerable photographs of oneself online. The piece originated with a live performance, choreographed by Cha and presented at the Lyon Biennial on October 19 and 20, 2013. In the performance, a nude male actor, Mehdi Berkouki (who goes by the stage name Monico Chiquito), moved through the galleries of the biennial in a psychoactively dissociated state and obsessively posted photographs of himself to various social media, including Vine and Instagram. The performance dramatized the desire for validation inherent in the act of sharing “selfies” with social circles, both intimate and anonymous. The documentation, all taken by Berkouki and shared online, live, captured his body in various poses within the galleries.

The New Museum presented an original dedicated website to accompany the project. The website serves as a main documentation channel for the piece where photographs and videos are aggregated and archived. The audience was invited to follow his movements over the course of forty-eight hours via the website, or look back at the dance through a series of episodic images archived on the site afterwards.

Established in 2012 and co-organized by the New Museum and Rhizome, First Look is a digital art commissioning and exhibition program representing the breadth of art online—from interactive documentary, to custom-built participatory applications, to moving image-based works, and art for mobile VR. Encompassing a substantial array of work that continues to expand, First Look explores the formal, social, and aesthetic possibilities of emerging technologies on the web.

Disembodied Selfie was commissioned by the 12th Lyon Biennial, “Meanwhile… Suddenly and Then.” DIS Magazine presented the accompanying Lyon Biennial catalogue text on the project.

The original accompanying website is supported by the New Museum through the First Look online exhibition series. In 2018, the site was archived by the New Museum Archives using Rhizome’s Webrecorder tool. The archived copy may be viewed via, here:
October 18 2013

Browser-based & Digital projects