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SIFA 2023: An Interview with MOJOKO, curator of digital art showcase ‘PR1V4CY’

In a world of social media, where we’ve unwittingly put our entire lives on the internet and selling away our personal data to big corporations to do as they will, how much privacy do we really have? As part of the 2023 Singapore International Festival of Arts, curator MOJOKO gathers a motley crew of digital artists to address the phenomenon of this fast-disappearing luxury, and where our privacy is going.

Speaking to MOJOKO, we found out more about the upcoming PR1V4CY exhibition before it premieres, his curation process, and his thoughts on digital art as a whole. Read the interview in full below:

Bakchormeeboy: What was the idea behind PR1V4CY, and what is the significance behind the stylization of the title?

MOJOKO: The spelling of PR1V4CY in alphanumerics is to signify passwords and the current digital aspect of life. It’s a subject which seems to be being conveniently ignored or forgotten by people, they do know it’s important, but sacrificing their privacy gives them access to digital benefits. Privacy is a luxury and it should be preserved and cherished. Once its gone, it will never return. In a digital age where one is hyperconnected 24 hrs a day, we can be tracked and contacted wherever whenever.

Screenshot of artwork. Courtesy of Barbarian Flower.

Bakchormeeboy: What went into the decision behind selecting these specific artists for the showcase? Was there something about their art or their philosophy/approach towards the theme that struck you?

MOJOKO: We wanted an equal balance of homegrown and international artists so we selected partly based on geography, but primarily on the artists and their work. Crossing a spectrum of styles and backgrounds was important and showing to the public a snippet of this new wave of moving image makers. They are all very exciting artists who we have been watching for a while. 

Screenshot of artwork. Courtesy of Gilang Kusuma.

Bakchormeeboy: What makes a digital art showcase like PR1V4CY different from simply posting work on Instagram or some other platform? 

MOJOKO: It’s like a more focused space to view the work, to see them as a collection and of course the ability to watch in a full screen format. The SIFA ‘LIFE Profusion’ digital platform was created last year to make the works accessible to a broader audience. Ideally it should be viewed on a desktop to really appreciate the full HD video formats with sound.

Screenshot of artwork. Courtesy of Vince Fraser.

Bakchormeeboy: Even considering how in the past, people would upload work to spaces like DeviantArt or MySpace, how do you think artists feel about the rise of digital art? Especially considering the rise of NFTs, is there an acceptance and embracing of it, or is there still a certain superiority between artists who work exclusively online and those who showcase work in real life? 

MOJOKO: Digital art is nothing new, I think museums and institutions have always embraced new art forms and openly nurture digital as a medium. Galleries have been a little slower to carry digital works as their business models are quite traditional, NFTS helped some galleries adopt digital artists as there becomes a clearer revenue model for animators and interactive artists. I think most artists are open minded and it’s in their nature to experiment with new media and technology, so any feelings of superiority are narrow minded and will hinder that particular artists growth.

Screenshot of artwork. Courtesy of Sadiq Mansoor.

Bakchormeeboy: Surveillance and privacy has a wide range of interpretations and directions that it can go in. Could you explain your own contribution to this showcase? Is it even possible to have a private life anymore that belongs to you and only you? 

MOJOKO: I’ve been interested in the idea that privacy was more of a priority in the “traditional” olden days, imagining modern technology existing in an ancient setting and how it would disrupt that, presenting mobile devices and spying technology into a time before they existed. The juxtapositions are intended to be thought provoking and make us asses our own lacklustre attitude toward personal privacy.

Screenshot of artwork. Courtesy of Davidope (DVDP).

Bakchormeeboy: As the former founder of Kult Magazine and current Creative Director of EYEYAH! Magazine, do you think there’s a lot more competition for audiences/visitors/viewers when it comes to art today? Is the art world more competitive or collaborative, especially in Singapore, where we seem to have a much more limited audience? 

MOJOKO: Competition is the wrong word. There is more variety and it is accessible to wider audiences, but there is still a long way to go before mass adoption and acceptance. Fields like Film, Streetwear, Fashion and Toy culture seem to be the cultural drivers in Singapore and we are seeing a lot of crossover between the arts and these other fields, it’s through these collaborations the public are starting to become aware of some of the artistic talent here. 

Screenshot of artwork. Courtesy of Chong Yan Chuah.

Bakchormeeboy: How would you say PR1V4CY ties back into SIFA’s theme of ‘Some People’?

MOJOKO: The theme ”Some People” is quite broad and I wanted to focus in on something that was a talking point for everyone. For the first time in history humans have never been more connected. There are officially more devices than humans in the world. This raised the greater question of Privacy to me. Privacy is a subject that affects us all. Will the next generation have any privacy? Will it be considered a thing of the past? will they reject this invasion into their private lives?

PR1V4CY will be available to view online, with more details available here

The 2023 Singapore International Festival of Arts runs from 19th May to 4th June 2023. Tickets and full details of programme available here

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