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At The Table with Ofri Cnaani: Who and What Are Missing In A Hyper-Connected World

March 29, 2021

At the Table: Dialogue + Art

Much has been written and discussed this past year (and certainly for decades beforehand) about the confluence, or conflation, of the digital and the “real”— what kind of Zoom-driven, virtual world are we living in? But few are able to dissect our technological realities and in turn reveal their metaphyscial, political, institutional, somatic, epistemological, and fantastical implications quite like artist Ofri Cnaani.

“The feeling of being in many places, yet nowhere, increasingly qualifies our relations to sites,” Cnaani wrote in prepation for More Art’s most recent At The Table (virtual) salon. “I can be in bed while at a party, in class while shopping online, touching a lover while touching the screen. It feels like the online territory and spaces between skin and screen keep stretching and widening, offering a new hybrid, sensual spatiality and establishing an extended sense of being in site… The challenge of thinking of ways to navigate space is entangled with the difficulty of asking the question “where?” since the answer to “where is where?” is complicated by the multiplicity of sites, often confused by a sense of sitelessness.”

Cnaani is a London-based artist and researcher who works in time-based media, performances, and installations; her work is grounded in an exploration of the body and mind and their relation to space and site and often examines the omniscient digital realm in everyday life through the notion and practices of mediation.


Left: Part of a series made over the last year in dialogue with designer Claudia Mauro, as part of Cnaani’s Body in Algorithms research and publication. “Thinking of phrenology and facial recognition, pseudoscience and body measurements, intimacies and algorithmic matrix,” Cnaani writes on her Instagram. The group of works will be shown at Sirius Arts Centre, County Cork, curated by Miguel Amado. Right: You Are My Statistical Body, 2020; courtesy of the artist, shared by Amado.


No doubt top of mind for her at the salon was an in-progess project with Sirius Arts Centre, in County Cork, Ireland, examining questions of navigation — physical, mental and digital — within the current conditions of social distancing, moving away from the question ‘where am I?’ to rather ask ‘where is where?’. [Check out their call for participants!] A large part of Cnaani’s current focus is on exploring the connections between skin and surface as well as touch and exchange that have been emerging through technological mediation. The work with Siruris consists of a series of remote conversations and walks along real or imagined, physical or digital borders, exploring the conditions of social distancing dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic; portions of her publication project, Body in Algorithm, produced with designer Claudia Mauro over the last year, will also be hosted by the arts organization.

At the Table: Dialogue + Art is More Art’s series of intimate salon-style discussions, connecting our community with artists and collaborators. We invite 10 people including one guest artist, purposefully keeping groups are small so all are able to participate, opening a space for thought-provoking dialogue and connection, generating interesting conversation, while strengthening More Art’s circle of friends and supporters; we learn from artists and each other in discussion around public art and social justice during this time of uncertainty, challenge, and change. Each month we’ll recap our most recent At the Table salon, sharing some of the questions raised and ideas proposed, the points of contention and contextual cues kicking everything off. Here are some of the things on our and Cnaani’s minds.

Cnaani’s image for Measure of Closeness: A Lexicon of Gestures, hosted by A4 Arts Foundation in May 2020. In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, the safe-distance, online performance asked: How do we keep in touch in a contactless space, in an age of hyper-communication? Can we survive without touch, without skin? And what are the new measures of closeness?


The conversation started with what used to be a more simple question: Where is where? During the past year, the question of locality and virtuality has become complicated. We have moved into a concept of non-site specific which is also redefining our body-site relationship (or memory thereof).

In terms of the body, we now present our screen selves, a flat face in a grid among many others. For some, this makes us more aware of our bodies. And in terms of site, we have a feeling of being in many places yet nowhere, a sense of sitelessness.

Place and identity remain formative. Construction of the virtual place still feels tactile and includes our objects (records, books, artworks) yet simultaneously vulnerable. We are always somewhere, but in constant relationship to all the things we are and are becoming.

Technology enables us to experience being in multiple places, to expand and still be seen and heard. We can share concerns with the wider community, perhaps even feel more connected. This interconnectivity might help us make more informed decisions and actions; knowing we are all connected might be a necessary step in our evolution. However, the need for technology and the internet is definitely a problem of exclusion, as not all have access. Togetherness is then problematized. Convenience and speed often promote exclusivity.

Can art help? Art has always helped us find alternative spaces, even if these spaces will be part physical, part virtual. Art also may help us highlight the most valuable notions we want to maintain from the pre-hybrid space, including time for transitions, recognition of how delicate relationships are, taking more time for ourselves, being more present with our own mind.


Ofri Cnaani, Moon Guardians, Gansevoort Square, Meatpacking District, NYC. 2013. For Moon Guardians, Cnaani created a series of video haikus that revisited the historical and social context of Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. Ghost-like figures — like famed drag queen Sultana — directly emerging from the neighborhood’s storied history, were rear-projected on the windows and storefronts facing the square, each gazing out at the viewer and creating a bridge between past and present, virtual and real.


How have you bridged the digital divide? Join the conversation by following More Art on Medium and Instagram. Never miss an update by subscribing to our newsletter.

Header image: Measures of Closeness: A Lexicon of Gesture was a Zoom-based performance conducted by Ofri Cnaani, Evann Siebens, and Stella Geppert, hosted by A4 Arts Foundation in May 2020. The artists engaged collectively in a series of movement exercises, choreographic figures, conversations, and chat rooms — in order to provoke contemplation about how bodies are experienced in relation to contact. Cnaani shared this screenshot and wrote on her Instagram: “Thoughts on getting the camera wet and becoming a collection of organs without bodies, during “measure of closeness” performance: At some point, we were breathing on the camera. We were blowing our humid, hot, internal air on the lens until it was foggy. We got the camera wet. The platform functions were melting by our saliva. The lens was affected, the gaze was affected. The inside was turning outside and changing its performance.”