For the Time Being is an experimental programme of photo-performance, conceived as a response to the everyday presence of social media. The project invites 5 international contemporary artists Agil Abdullayev, Feng Mengbo, Max Grau and Tamara Kametani and artist collective Agorama to reflect on the role of image sharing networks in their personal lives. 

Through a series of on and offline events and performances, the artists will interrogate the way in which popular apps like Snapchat, Whatsapp and Instagram have affected understandings of intimacy, digital connectedness and notions of personal and collective memory.

The project uses Snapchat, an app devised to share intimate, disappearing images, as a central protagonist. Originally designed with unique features of instantaneity, intimacy and ephemerality, Snapchat quickly rose to cult popularity amongst a generation of millennials who used it to develop a means of communication that was playful, creative, subversive, and entirely their own. Today, the artists featuring in For the Time Being use Snapchat as a medium and a tool through which they reflect on debates within contemporary social media. The programme, therefore, presents an assemblage of ideas reflecting on big issues such as internet identities, fake news and data privacy, to more personal encounters of nostalgia and memory.

Multimedia artist Max Grau’s performance, bbBbddDdyYyy_ssssss_a_cCccCAAaGGgee will explore the influences of social media upon our everyday communications and self-identities. Interweaving slides, speech, video clips and music, Grau will unfold a series of interactions with his ‘avatar’ inhabited on Snapchat.

Carrying forward her work on the politics of image culture, Tamara Kametani will be capturing the zeitgeist through daily posts of news media. Interjecting headlines with her personal reflections, comments and images, Kametani’s project what will be? will explore the moment in which public information turns into personal memory. 

From across the globe, new media pioneer Feng Mengbo will offer another perspective into memory and personal archives, by extending his ongoing documentation project The Big Collector Feng Mengbo, which is already embedded in Chinese social media. From his 1sqm photo studio, Mengbo has been using photography to record and share objects from his own collection as a way to map a personal narrative onto a larger socio-cultural transformation witnessed in China during his lifetime. Using the internet as a space for personal reinvention, and freedom from the controlling gaze of societal norms, Agil Abdullayev presents a pseudo-biographic character Rashida from Baku. Rashida has been born of various popular social media aesthetics and facilitates exploration of queer culture within the social histories of Azerbaijan.

Agorama, a collective of artists and curators who seek to engage with distributed exhibition models present an interactive AI chatbot Moses the Lonely Londoner. The project investigates emergent digital spaces, namely that of the telecocoon – an invisible space linked to an individual’s mobile device, where intimacy at a distance is possible through a person being connected to their inner circle of friends, family and contacts. Members of Agorama include Alejandro Ball, Inês Costa, Max Dovey and Anna Viani.

In addition to the curated programme, selected writers have been invited to contribute texts that extend the themes of nostalgia, memory and social media. Media theorist Katharina Niemeyer, curator Prayas Abhinav, digital curator Katrina Sluis, and the winner of our teen-writing competition have been invited to contribute micro-essays which can be accessed on www.forthetimebeing.co.uk

For the Time Being is curated by six postgraduate students seeking to explore the shifting responsibilities of institutions in this networked age, as part of the MA Curating Contemporary Art Programme Graduate Projects 2019 at Royal College of Art, London. The exhibition is produced in collaboration with The Photographers’ Gallery.

Curated by Rachel Chiodo, Sitara Chowfla, Hang Li, Esther Moerdler, Carlos Pinto and Caroline Rosello

In addition to the curated programme, selected writers have been invited to contribute texts that extend the themes of nostalgia, memory and social media. Media theorist Katharina Niemeyer, curator Prayas Abhinav, digital curator Katrina Sluis, and the winner of our teen-writing competition have been invited to contribute micro-essays which can be accessed on 

www.forthetimebeing.co.uk