Objects of Virtu
Sept 29–Nov 4, 2023

Jane Balfus
Faith Icecold
Paige K. B.
Paul Peng
Marisa Takal

Virtu data encryption protects data across internal and external ecosystems. Virtu generates liquidity that helps to create more efficient markets around the world with competitive bids and offers in over 25,000 securities.

A relic is an object of virtu, the excellence in an object of art (1722), often considered interesting because of its luxury or antiquity. But the past, or what the cultural imaginary believes it to be, is not really in the past. Like most things, it’s obviously because of big data, and the internet, but it’s also because cycles of history aren’t really changing—or at least the underlying propellor isn’t. “We only experience reality through the pictures we make of it,” Douglas Crimp wrote.[1] This holds. But it’s all collapsed. Accelerated, as you well know; relics of our time happen in real time. Just found out they are calling the 90s the late 1900s in schools these days. I’m going to completely revamp my life. But I don’t want to exist. But I’m the hottest bitch to ever exist. I moved past having a depressive episode im actually having a depressive series haha season 8 available now. Naps hit differently when you’re using them to avoid being alive.

“New relic” is a phrase imagined by Faith Icecold whose work draws from historical spiritual altars in parallel to everyday minutiae, to always being on display, and to other infringements on the private. The making of sacred secret universes is thus absolutely necessary, as in Marisa Takal’s provisional letterboxes constructed from tea containers. Perhaps someone might discover them someday, or maybe they just create a way to whisper in public. New Relic knows. New Relic is committed to open standards, open instrumentation, and the open communities that support them. Correlate infrastructure health. New Relic gets its name from an anagram of its maker’s name, Lew Cirne. The first thing that Cirne asks a prospect is as follows: “You’re driving home and you’re on cloud nine. What was it about the working day that made you so happy?”[2]


Your codes are entirely legible, but the works here are written in little languages you simply wouldn’t value or understand. You might think they’re cute. But maybe these artists are ambivalent—fascinated by the miniature, or sentimental, or femme, or marginalia, or footnoted, by picturing the "ordinary magic"[3] of what slight images and words come to them rather than make an offering of themselves. “Cute is in fact an aesthetic ‘of’ or ‘about’ the minor–or what is generally perceived to be diminutive, subordinate, trivial, and above all, unthreatening.”[4] Why do you want to make things small? Go ahead, track and accumulate us, try to subsume us. The works here sometimes cloak sincerity in what might seem like irony or cosplay; or, cloak irony in sincerity. But is cosplay even that anymore; isn’t it just living? The “poor image” may be missing something, missing information, considered less than, but it’s about “speaking out of both sides of your mouth,” as Paige K. B. puts it. Beliefs are representations are hierarchy are matter are representations.

In faintly erotic furry-adjacent DeviantArt characters, Paul Peng depicts “unburdened bodies”[5] in the form of alter-egos that are entirely real. Peng’s American Evening (2017) finds an antlered, wide-eyed boy catapulting into the backyard swimming pool of a suburban rancher not unlike the small-town environs of Jane Balfus in her CGI animation based on mostly Y.A. white girls from the 90s and early aughts. Reimagined as lumpy figurines in Systemic Forfeit Contact Dance (2023), girl-doll archetypes experience flare-ups in a hospital room from life-threatening autoimmune disease, putter in a bedroom under the watch of a crucifix, and ponder Dawson heartbreaks on the pond dock amidst wildflowers. The animation culminates in a trance-like dance to the lull of a children’s church choir. Why do you want to know about my childhood? Does childhood have to mean nostalgia? What’s wrong with nostalgia anyway?

Sometimes, these works wonder if it feels like we are already dead, our things, images, and words embalmed. Everything is a relic, a document, a recording, anticipating its imaging, outmoded before it starts or is revived, recontextualized, then dead upon arrival again. Relic (2020) is an “elevated horror” that “depicts something ordinary that comprehends the terror and fear we experience while going [...]”[6] through the death of feeling real[7] or going through feeling too real. We aren’t saints, gods, spirits, or CEOs. Maybe the new relic is just a non-relic. Perhaps our pictures and poems, our own objects of virtu, can create a provisional new reality, for necessary escapism, and maybe for repairing and protecting oneself, friendships, and alliances. For survival. Maybe that’s what we have to leave behind.

[1] Douglas Crimp, Pictures (exh. cat.), Artists Space, 1977 in X-TRA, volume 8, issue 1, Fall 2005
[3] Faith Icecold
[4] Sianne Ngai in “Our Aesthetic Categories,” Cabinet, 2011
[5] Paul Peng
[7] Jane Balfus