Janet Balbarona, prototype artist for Generation Me, channels the online swagger of profile pictures and lookbook entries into works on canvas. Using oil sticks, pencils, and paint, she documents "the presentation of the self in everyday life"—to borrow a title of a groundbreaking sociology text—in the age of social networks.
Becoming You presents a multifaceted look at one individual, a bearded male brimming with attitude. He strikes four poses against a gray background disrupted by pink streaks and penciled lines, the latter being a reference to pattern-making and the artist's dalliance with couture.
The man is dressed in a denim jacket, purple checkered shirt peeking out, bandanna tied to his forehead like a gangster rapper. He smirks, shows off his gold watch and vintage camera, and lets his cigarette droop insouciantly from his mouth. It is the performance that is important to Balbarona: the way the subject preens in front of an audience, his gestures and expressions. Nothing else matters.
According to dramaturgical theory, a person's identity is a slippery thing that shifts and changes depending on who's watching. Every individual in society is an actor in a performance, and the goal is to manage impressions through speech, nonverbal cues, and clothing ("fashion" being the more appropriate term given that Balbarona moves in trendy circles composed of models and celebrities.)
As an artist, Balbarona's role is that of a confidant, "an individual to whom the performer reveals details of the performance." After using her art to explore her own psyche, Balbarona is turning her eye to the others in her posse.
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