For the last fifteen years, the multidisciplinary artist Jeffrey Augustine Songco has captured tens of thousands of digital self-portrait photographs as part of an ongoing performance known as the Society of 23. In this fictional world, Songco performs the roles of 23 men in a mysterious brotherhood through a multiplication of his body through digitally manipulated photography, variable editions of sculptures, and immersive installations filled with Society of 23 paraphernalia. The brotherhood consistently addresses ideas of conspicuous consumption through scenes depicting them doing mundane things like shopping on Black Friday, hoarding makeup products, dining at restaurants, and watching TV.
For Commercial Break, the Grand Rapids, MI-based queer artist created fabrics using an archive of self-portraits to produce patterns and shapes that he collaged together. The new textile works capture the wittiness of Songco’s practice of self-representation. In this case, the fabric is composed of self-portraits meticulously created into colorful patterns. These textiles become figurative representations of "flowers and plants," for which the series is named. The Flowers and Plants series, a fabric collage and sculpture series convey a kitschy performance of himself as household objects that are to be bought and sold. Commercial Break also includes Spike Marks and Mirrors, a durational site-specific installation created from recycled components from Songco’s archive of work. In total, the show captures the use of self-representation through Songco’s creation of the textiles as a queer visual strategy that is subversive through its mimetic acts.
Image credit: Jeffrey Augustine Songco, Pink and Purple Flowers in a White Vase, cotton and velvet on canvas. 20” x 16”, 2020.