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Dahlia Bloomstone

Dahlia Bloomstone has developed a body of work rooted in video, which has evolved to encompass animation, film, and performance. Through studies in literature, language, science fiction, fables, memes, and internet culture, Dahlia attempts to reconcile representations of sex work, domesticity, labor, and control absent or under-theorized in the film and video art canons. She creates, with vulnerability and political urgency, speculative video content that leads to questions investigating stereotypes of morality and ethics in specific polarized occupations, ambivalence as generative, sex work in apocalypse, the commodification of our multiple body-selves, philanthropy culture, and acceptance through humanizing of the self. She uses (long, onerous, abstract lists) perverse storytelling, private vernacular, masking, layering, repetition, and artifice as conceptual devices. The artist employs accessible fish tank metaphors and cute characters to deliver stories relating to sex work to speak through the absurdity of concurring socio-political and economic issues and is constantly renegotiating her relationship to these concepts within the panoptic discourse on the Internet. Her work concludes that sex work is an enduring, pervasive, timeless construct that has and will always exist even after reimagining multiple adjacent worlds. Her most recent work includes Push for Help, a diaristic episodic video series set in a money-driven fish tank simulator gentlemen's club, and Money-Driven FishTank Game, a Roblox game. Dahlia's recent 2022 exhibition consisted of video work, the video game built and designed by the artist, and free-to-take objects, where donation, the strip club, and the fish tank converged. She also wrote and acted in, with her collaborator Maya Baran, a short film entitled Opulence which deals with "sex-work-surrealism," making it its own character in the film. Dahlia Bloomstone (b.1995) is a Puerto Rican video artist, and Hunter College MFA (2022) graduate with a BFA from Bard College (2018). Bloomstone has exhibited at 205 Hudson Gallery, Hauser & Wirth, and CICA Museum. She is the recipient of the SPCUNY Actionist grant from the Mellon Foundation, the Master’s Thesis grant from Hunter College, and the Ox-Bow CIP scholarship. She has participated in residencies through the School of Visual Arts and Ox-Bow. Dahlia lives and works in New York.



Project:

My research always begins with and centers around attempting to reconcile representations of sex work, domesticity, labor, and control absent or under-theorized in the film, sound, new genres, and video art canons. I’m often drawn to moody, frenetic piano scores, multiple computerized voices in dialogue, and the evocation of video game music. The sounds I often use in my work are (other than my own voice) sounds of things that are not human. In my work, you will hear video game bubbles, fishbones, or the sound of cash. I also am interested in sounds that are “feminine,” like the sound of hair being brushed, both synthetic and real hair. I would like to join Foreign Objekt to explore and expand these ideas and see how they can unfold. I submitted the Video/Sound work entitled Didactic Mergers, Things r Happening, We r Aging and Here as a part of my research proposal. This work explores the sound of artificiality in one’s own voice when doing service work. The character in the video work tries to explain repeatedly, with specificity, in the right way while she is also processing and getting distracted, what, in life, makes her (the most) sad. What makes her sad is her mom’s difficulty with getting older and consuming anti-aging products, but she tells us this story nauseatingly slowly, three times, and in her client-facing, soft, dumb, ditzy, feminine voice. As much as the viewer might be processing this durational tale of sadness, so is she. Why can’t she turn off her service voice at home during (interrupted, dreamy) introspection? Will her economic status change if her voice deepens? Is her sadness a part of a meticulously monetized exchange? Is it alluring this time? As she repeats this anecdote, harshly drop-shadowed Reddit posts jump on the screen. The first reads: “What’s so bad about working into your 30s?” on r/stripper. The watcher is confronted not only by Reddit sex work discourse and memes, the second to last one being a highly upvoted and awarded post entitled “I’m so tired” on r/SexWorkers, but also by the characters' inability to shut off her work voice, or take off her work makeup, or stop positioning herself uncomfortably, in her home space—at times, the damask pattern layers on top of the character. Anyway, who has the time to take their eyelashes (Ardell Wispies) off after work with all this discourse metamorphosing online? The last section, a black screen, opens with a mild, “what I’ve done is what I’ve always done.” Then, there is a loud, distorted, ominous laugh track while two women talk in front of an audience. “Did you pay her to be here?” Picture whatever angry, wanting, moral arbiter of a man that comes to your mind. One woman asks the other woman what she does for work, and the woman answers honestly. But, of course, things devolve from that point forward. This research proposal’s inception is within this conceptualization of devolving, what is unseen, and what is artificial.

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