23 Chunks of Being:
Gregory Grieve’s Experiments in Transmitting Pure actuality
2. Hindsight (2020)
Acrylic paint on canvas
The self... is not an organic thing that has a specific location, whose fundamental fate is to be born, to mature, to die; it is a dramatic effect arising diffusely from a scene that is presented.
Masks not only cover and hide us but also unmask that we all play social roles. They show that we need to concentrate on the person playing the role, as well as the role played. Grieve painted Hindsight deep in the dark days of the Covid-19 pandemic quarantine when the only social interaction, outside of his close family members, was over social media or going masked in public. It is a self-portrait and was choreographed with him, only wearing a mask and glasses, standing in front of a mirror. His reflection is captured by an iPad, which in turn is infinitely reflected back to the horizon of intelligibility as a point deep in the distance. Grieve was curious in this *object to explore identity during times of quarantine. How is it that our social identities were exposed, masked, mediated, and mirrored when, to put it politely, “all went to shit.” Identity defines the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks, and expressions that make each of us uniquely who we are. We tend to think of ourselves as having a stable identity of which we are the ‘agent.’ The pandemic made it clear that our identities are constantly changing social constructs. Identity is reflected back at us through the gestures and styles of the social groups to which we belong, and the media by and to which audience with which we communicated. A zoomed identity is different from a tweeted identity, which in turn is different from a Tic Tocced, or a muffled masked face-to-face identity. The need to wear masks, or to be mediated over social media, showed how our identity is disguised and concealed hiding our social roles. The Sociologist Erving Goffman holds, for instance, that when we are born, we are thrust onto this stage called everyday life, and that our socialization consists of learning how to play our assigned roles from other people. We enact our roles in the company of others, who are in turn enacting their roles in interaction with us. Paradoxically, during the quarantine the lack of familiar social structures, such as work and friend networks, also perplexed us and exposed how our social roles and identity are merely a cluster of symbols that mediate reflections of our self, at the same time, expose us to others.