David Henry Nobody Jr. has been called the “bad boy” of Interventionist performance art, a visual artist who has earned a celebrity following for his works in diverse mediums, including installations and works with fabric and fashion. Since starting his career in the 1990s, David has inserted himself into social communities to produce his work, creating a bridge between art and life. The Brooklyn, New York based artist has recently taken his work to the social community of Instagram, a series of bizarre visual-collage selfies titled “Resemblagè”.
“Resemblagè (resemble + collage) is a term I invented to describe a performance created by the collage of material objects and my body, most often my head, into a striking interplay/mimicry between the self and the object-iconography. The resulting absurd mash-up is an internalized expression of my response to our totally weird society as mediated spectacle vis-a-vis the internet and more specifically, social media,” he explained to Hi-Fructose via email. “I am literally subverting the representation of every cliché, trope and stereotype that I see on Instagram and distorting my figure to assimilate or conform to what I observe.”
The Resemblagè series combines elements of performance art, photography and what David calls “social sculpture”, its own category in the context of social media. A self-described “dumpster diver”, each picture features David wearing images of himself, magazine ads, and even food like peanut butter, hot dogs, and pizza slices, taking elements of consumerism and inhabiting it in ways that recall American photographer Cindy Sherman’s conceptual portraits. Other images portray David colored with body paint, prompted by the colors and feel of the images that he is appropriating. But although his images are hash-tagged as “#LivingSculpture” or “#PerformanceArt”, they are not necessarily definitions of the work but rather search terms to find his work.
“I am wearing images from advertising as a dark and humorous mask, because that is what they are. I use food on myself because I am food (for thought). I am consumed as food in a capitalist consumerist society. The use of food is a hyperbolic expression of what we are a part of, in life, in the West,” he notes. “I spend time in the supermarket looking at different foods and thinking about how I can use them and what my memories and personal associations are with the food item.” It may appear as though he is just dousing himself in trash, but every collage is a project of trial and error that takes David anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours to perfect, depending on the piece.
“I portray myself in many ways because it feeds my creativity and the imagination of my audience. I wish to challenge self-representation. I have been using myself in my work for the last 25 years in many different ways. This is my first body of work that is totally immersed in the Internet. The idea of the self as a construct that has been a long-term thread in my work is now available to anyone that has internet access. Anyone can fabricate an online persona. I am searching and working with this zeitgeist in mind.”