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Digital Ruins: Shreya Chopra’s living collage

Shreya Chopra's "The End” is a series of digital collages that resemble the movie posters of your nightmares

Escrito por: Will Carter
Visuales de: Shreya Chopra

If you own a smart-phone it is likely you’re familiar with meme culture and the ever increasing importance of GIFS in modern forms of communication. The ability of memes and GIFS to synthesize a readable pastiche from myriad bits of pop culture that span genre and time is linguistic evolution par excellence. It makes apparent our tendency toward nostalgia, as well as our ingrained worship of the media. Shreya Chopra, a mixed-media artist born in India, living and working in New York City, has taken this process, and its ever increasing instability, as her subject in a new series of work entitled “The End.”

Illustration by Shreya Chopra

“The End” is a series of digital collages that resemble the movie posters of your nightmares— integrating references from Looney Toons to Ghost Busters, from Kool Aid to braces, Scooby Doo to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Chopra’s nimble use of typography and layout also shows she is no stranger to the historic march of graphic design. The finished works are spaces both modern and timeless, like photoshopped buildings atop analogue ruins.

As memes have penetrated the veil of day-to-day communication, so too does Shreya Chopra’s work feel as if it’s talking to you; as if it could be used as a kind of codex to narrate a complex history of cinema, television and design. And this fraught history has culminated with the often chaotic and portentous images she has so sleekly rendered on Duratrans backlit film. Rather than accept the incursion of these data on her life, she has decided to show them for the haphazard and broken tools they really are.

The violent symbols, whether a gaping bloodied mouth or a lifeless woman in the arms of a swamp creature, affect confusion and despair at the political and aesthetic culmination of 2017. Its veneer of graphic order only makes more apparent the disorder and anger present, like Hieronymus Bosch laying bare the savage metaphor of Christian society in learned Renaissance detail. Shreya Chopra, born in India and raised in London, is hyper aware of the affects of cultural imperialism on people of color. “These garish unsettling collages depicted my experience as being both a target of consumerism, racial discrimination and sexual assault while still remaining a consumer of the media machine that forces us to dilute those feelings and escape from them,” Chopra writes.

Illustration by Shreya Chopra

The piece “We All Float Down Here” prominently features the Kool Aid Man and points to the exploitation of the black community, as well as suggesting a kind of cosmic reciprocity that awaits the demagogues and hate-filled of the world. The entire series is charged with just such critique, and one feels as if they discover another layer of meaning at every new viewing. The works breathe, they think, they tell time and keep journals, in short, they are alive—reanimating the past and re-contextualizing the future.

You can find images and information from “The End” here.

Will Carter

Will Carter is a writer and translator. He enjoys plants, graphic novels, free jazz, and Stanley Kubrick films.

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