It seems to be common thinking these days that people—artists, in particular—need to be their own personal brands. Whether you’re an aspiring photographer, a high school student looking for their first job, or a digital marketer trying to climb the corporate ladder, the way you represent yourself (or don’t represent yourself) online matters. But, despite the fairly recent legal gray area created by the Citizens United ruling, among others, people cannot be brands because we are also living, breathing beings. No matter how polished your Instagram looks, you are still a person with emotions that you may be able to hide from the public, but which you cannot prevent yourself from having. Brands, on the other hand, do not have feelings. So, I wonder, what happens when someone creates a brand that is personal, even autobiographical (I won’t say authentic), while acknowledging, even pointing to, the constructs of branding?
This is one of the questions I hope to explore through On TAPE Studio, an ongoing interdisciplinary art project-as-brand that explores personal representation in, and leading up to, the age of social media, pulling materials and memories from, in particular, my late teens through early twenties. Inspired by poetic techniques such as erasures, conceptual artists such as Barbara Kruger, documentary projects such as Adrienne Salinger's book In My Room: Teenagers in Their Bedrooms, and the marketing and branding of streetwear, On TAPE Studio will look inward while pushing outward, questioning whether visible risk and vulnerability can change the way a brand exists in relation to its creator and the people who consume it.