Creating a Sense of Legitimacy - Sarah Rudinoff in The Stranger Mar 28, 2016
photo by Truman Buffet
"...The Self-Portrait is now the selfie. The Landscape is now the self-congratulatory summit pic. The bowl of fruit is the pricey brunch pic. The power of making a painting of an iPhone selfie lies in the pathos of an older form of self-expression seeking legitimacy (by way of relevance) from a younger form of self-expression, and at the same time showing how much more skill and thought and compassion it takes to paint a picture than to feel a *feeling* and snap a corresponding selfie. It's the sadness of radio interviewing the video star.
This artistic quandary points to an existential one: How does a self find a sense of legitimacy in a world where social media has—by simultaneously inflating and democratizing the ego—so diminished the self?
Instead of painting, the old art that Rudinoff practices is—to the delight of us all—performance. Like Dante, Rudinoff's autobiographical character has found herself in the middle of her journey of her life, lost in a dark wood of self expression. Performance is her escape route, but in a forest where Twitter, Facebook, et al have reduced performances of selves to an endless reel of Kelvin-filtered $30 small plates and vacay pics to South America, she isn't feeling too good about the value of her training and her work.
At one point in the show, Rudinoff imagines a Facebook 2, a place where some algorithm would take even the unfortunate facts of your life—the stubbed toe, the weird lunches, the false thought, the QFC receipts—and spit them up on your wall. This dream is exactly what Rudinoff presents in her show. She stands onstage with her iPhone (the screen of which she projects on the wall behind her), showing us her meditation podcasts, her Spotify playlists, and her increasing sense that the joys of the imaginative life pale in comparison to the quotidian onslaught of lonelinesses, shames, and overbearing mothers.
Throughout the show, which is structured sort of like an artful stand-up set governed by YouTube rabbit hole logic and associative leaping, she confesses her shallow thoughts (e.g. she sometimes looks at her own Facebook profile as if she were someone else to determine whether she'd like herself), interrupts her attempts at meditation by trying to search for the best meditation music, and runs around the stage taking expert selfies.
Her language, the sharpness and speed of her thought, her comedic timing,the strength of her one-liners, and her absurd pantomiming are all the evidence you need that Rudinoff's brilliance should be tweeted and retweeted unto eternity."