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IN MY OWN SKIN

Illya Szilak, Cyril Tsiboulski / United States, India / 2021 / 45 min / World Premiere
Explore an interactive photography exhibition in VRChat which examines the performance of identity

‘In My Own Skin’ is an interactive documentary photography project which examines the performance of identity. Amateur models were asked to choose a unique, handmade garment, created by Mumbai textile artist Loise Braganza, that represented who they really are and be photographed by Tagger Yancey IV in their own homes. The interactive installation, housed in VRChat (accessible by VR headset and via PC), purposefully rejects a passive, “neutral” viewing experience. Rather, the photos are placed in archetypal architectural structures, complicating any easy reading of identity. Moving through the structure, visitors “undress” the photograph and, in doing so, confront their own preconceived categories of identity. Visitors to the exhibition choose a customized avatar, thus becoming the de facto model/performers in the exhibition.

During the festival, 4 different live conversations will take place in this virtual exhibition:

April 25 – Gender Troubles in XR (and IRL): a Trans Perspective

Gender, as Judith Butler notes, is performative. Virtual Reality offers the potential of subverting rigid binaries of gender and the association of gender with biology, a legacy of Victorian eugenic “science.” In this walk and talk, Alex talks about her experience as a trans model, actress and activist and the potential to alter our relationship to conventional notions of “maleness” and “female,” using selected photographs in the exhibition “In My Own Skin” as touch points.

April 26Space Matters: the Overlooked Importance of Architecture in XR

The importance of architecture and the relationship of physical space and in relation to the role of movement through space in VR has been under-recognized. Recent developments in neuro-aesthetics and embodied cognition have confirmed what architects have always known, that that the construction of space can radically shape human experience. Architect Beom Jun Kim discusses the role of architecture as a narrative and experiential design tool in XR.

April 30Touch in the Time of Covid: Rethinking Intimacy in XR

The spatial and interactive affordances of Virtual Reality offer the opportunity to construct unexpected forms of intimacy, creating a kind of magic circle where, at least for a time, the conventional divisions that separate “us” and “other” don’t easily or simply apply. Actor Michael DeBartolo, who modeled for the exhibition, discusses his personal journey as a proud out gay man and activist through his work in VR.

May 2The Texture of Identity: Fashion and the Body in VR

Although many of us spend our lives online, this time of pandemic has shown that, despite our technologies, we remain embodied, intimately connected to and dependent upon each other and the natural environment. Although digital spaces are being rapidly colonized by large corporations, often perpetuating existing political, social and economic inequalities, Mumbai based textile artist Loise Braganza, who created the garments for “In My Own Skin,” will explore how these spaces might become laboratories for rethinking our relationship to clothing, the body, identity, representation, sustainability, labor, and pleasure.

Meet the Artists: In My Own Skin

How to watch

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How do I watch?
The live conversation on April 25 will be presented in Zoom accessible through PC, tablet or mobile device with internet connection.
The live conversations on April 26, April 30 and May 2 will be presented in VRChat accessible through any VR headset or PC with internet connection. Does not work on macOS.

During the festival the ‘In My Own Skin’ exhibition space is free to visit in VRChat:

  1. Create a free VRChat account at https://vrchat.com/ or use your existing account if you had previously signed up.
  2. Launch VRChat in your headset or via a PC app and log in with your account.
  3. Open a Quick Menu panel via your VR controller or by pressing an ESC key if using a PC app.
  4. Select the Worlds tab and scroll down to the “Community Lab” section, hit “Expand” (if you are not seeing the “Community Lab” section, please make sure that you have it enabled in your Quick Menu (Settings → Other Options → Show Community Labs).
  5. Scroll to find “In My Own Skin” 
  6. You can then choose to create your own private instance of it if you would like to go through the installation by yourself or join any of the publicly available ones. Keep in mind that VRChat is a social platform and, if choosing a public instance, you may encounter other characters in the space.

How do I get access?
When buying a ticket you receive a confirmation e-mail. 24 hours before the announced screening date you will receive a direct link to join the event at the scheduled date and time.

Artist Bio

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Illya Szilak, Director and Producer (US)
Illya Szilak is an artist, writer, and director. Her artistic practice is collaborative and participatory often incorporating crowd-sourced and archival elements. Inspired by her work as a physician, her art explores identity, embodiment and intimacy in an increasingly virtual and media-inundated world.

Cyril Tsiboulski, Creative and Technical Director (US)
Cyril Tsiboulski is a design technologist and co-founder of Cloudred studio, an interactive studio. He teaches in the Digital Communications and Media program at New York University. He and Szilak were awarded a Peabody Futures of Media award for their first VR work ‘Queerskins: a love story’.

Loise Braganza, Garment design and production (IND)
Loise Braganza is an artist as designer whose work explores identity, the body and the materiality of textiles. Her work emerges through collaborations with artists, solo performances, artistic and academic research and includes commissions from galleries, museums, theatre and film.

Tagger Yancey IV, Photography (US)
Tagger Yancey IV is a photographer, photo editor, and fine artist. He earned a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2012, and has lived in Brooklyn since. His first collaboration with Szilak and Tsiboulski was for the performative photography project “The Things They Left Behind” in 2018.