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Buying a world we don’t live in

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It is Nov. 5, 2021, 8 p.m. This is the first and last one we’ll ever experience. You will drift from white wall to white wall of art, sipping rosé, and it will be the person you spent it with that makes the night worth remembering. Flesh and blood come before the five-figure marble we surround. 

The first and last Nov. 5, 2021 will be spent at the final show by SERIES 001 — a curated series of pop-ups for artists and designers. It is a shopping experience innovated by Colton Dixon Winger and those at CUNIFORM

When questioned on the genesis of the project, Winger commented, “I have experience primarily in luxury fashion, and my background is really connecting a consumer with a product. Everyone is constantly asking me, ‘Where should I get my hair done?’, ‘What should I put in my house?’ There’s this idea that we’re all searching for answers, like, what are interesting things to consume? I just feel like there are very limited platforms, as we shift to online…” 

There is a moment, an out-of-body experience, staring at a painting of a naked woman with the head of a rabbit spreading her labia, that I have to ask — what are we doing here? We can smile at each other, shake hands and feel warm flesh gripping back, but what true community is found? This is a mere connection. There is a difference. 

A gathering of people trafficking around the material — the prestige of different names, enough money to make this make sense. We stand around killing what little time we have. 

Can we not experience each other outside of consumption? What is left in the silence after an interesting pose? I questioned Winger — what was the role of SERIES 001 in the art community? To which he replied, “It was more of an interesting visual space that, myself as a retailer, housed artists in a non-traditional way; like we hung things differently, and all the feedback we got — everyone said it was a casual, comfortable way to purchase art.”

Victoria Winter | The Seattle Collegian A comfortable way to purchase art.

SERIES 001 is the residual of a very human desire for each other, to be around each other, and be free — to no avail, there are still all these blocks between you and me. Nothing is risked, nothing is confronted, nothing is found. These environments feel synthetic, designed in a lab to simulate consciousness without any true reflection. Everyone is a content creator now, a maker — conveyor-belt gods. 

The tickets to the event are free, yes, but if I had not looked the part — how would I have been regarded? I was once speaking with this homeless person, and we mutually observed that there are few to no places in this city where one can just comfortably be without having to spend money. 

There is an unspoken social contract of expectations. We stand next to strangers, we sip the rosé, and we play along — and we enjoy it too. But is that because the tapestry was hung in the center of the room or because we had each other? 

Communication is fragmented with ego. We are looking to be right, to feel safe, secure, interesting, worthy of being here, and maybe if we buy the right things — the aforementioned can become true. 

Maybe, but when the receipt wears off, what are we left with? But what have we learned about each other? What have we confronted? I do not become the I Am by virtue of extrapolating my self-worth onto what I consume. Objects cannot fully speak to the essence of a man, nor can they soothe the chaos of a self, alienated from community.

What community is to be found around commodities? The answer is nebulous and subjective, entirely dependent upon what you want out of this life. Though, I caution to guess that we do not care, and are not willing to listen to each other, just because we purchase the same products.

Simulated community is found in aesthetic-based performances. People like to be seen — such is the nature of humanity, to be acknowledged by our fellow man, but the curation of the self with the imagined Other in mind leaves you further alienated. You are not seen, but a figmented ideal. An ideal mediated by top-buyers. 

There’s an underlying innocence to the whole gig. Nothing should be assumed, but I observe the crowd — we are having Fun here, we are with people we love. We are surrounded by objects that emerged from someone’s mind, some of those people are likely excited to exhibit their work. Some people are relying on a sale to make rent, to continue to live free and make their art. But our lives are conducted within sanctioned bounds. Reality feels rationed. 

I do not know the way out of this. In theory, it lies in each other, in rigorous exploration of social and physical boundaries. Life, possibly, may lie in action and experience of ourselves, over the passive consumption of products which convince us of ourselves. If it is possible, there is worth in the construction of a community centered around truth — not allegiance to identity — whichever has been presently earned, over the purchased performance of knowledge. 

We stand next to strangers. Why didn’t I ask them what they thought? 

Victoria Winter is trying to prove that nothing human is alien to us. On paper, she is a second year student at Seattle Central College, potentially majoring in anthropology and philosophy. In reality, she is fascinated by using the mediums of photojournalism and writing to explore subcultures - the fringes, the limelight, and everything in between. She is in love with humans. Her only firm beliefs are that everything should be explored and most things are easier at night.

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