Dese Escobar: More in the Morning
Recently closed at Fragile, Berlin, Dese Escobar’s first solo exhibition in Europe, More In The Morning, is a seductive storyline told from multiple perspectives. The narrative begins after a sophisticated group of friends (looking to support their girlfriend after a bad breakup), books one of Airbnb’s most Instagram-worthy apartments in Los Angeles for the perfect summer getaway. The group methodically plan their trip, from designer looks for each night, to unique eyeshadow palettes. The friends use bullet points on their iPhone Notes app to catalog each choice. A scene that brings to mind Tumblr girls and other social media influencers, or maybe even Warhol’s famous notebooks.
More in The Morning opens on a scene where the group has arrived at the Airbnb and is preparing for a night out. The site-specific installation shows a scene within a scene, becoming one astral plane, yet a cohesive narrative becomes evident showing us the viewer the night before, the night of, and the night after a party.
Escobar dedicates each room to a specific timeframe of the night. In the living room, the girlfriends entertain their guests with a pre-drinks soirée. In the bathroom, a focal point of the installation, we see foundation waiting to be layered on skin, later reduced to a stained tissue discarded on the floor. In the bedroom, we see evidence that the girls have invited a gentleman home. A relatable setting.
The makeup guru Patrick Starrr’s Youtube channel is looping both for inspiration and distraction as the guests get ready for the night ahead. A roll of toilet paper for the inevitable spills of champagne and an artistic mess of luggage, hint at the unpredictability of the trip. All of these details, from a bottle of Advil to strands of hair all over the floor, reflect the possibilities each space can provide and the memories contained there. With all the clues scattered around each installation, the perception of each Airbnb guest becomes more and more refined. For example, distinctive accessories by luxury name brands are left behind by one guest. A lonely business card beside a Balenciaga bag allows us to define its owner as a fashionable girl with an air of professionalism. A modern-day woman: post-contemporary, elegant, opaque.
If the party ends or if it flows into the next morning is unknown and not relevant to the exhibition’s goal. With its witty, dreamlike atmosphere, Escobar’s utopia symbolizes both the excitement of an era and the anxiety contained within that era, a celebration of life without FOMO. The aesthetics of these spaces and objects, such as a bottle of champagne by the bed or a Sephora bag full of unwrapped makeup on the bedside table, invite us to look at this life and relive the moments that were once a reality. Each object picked by Escobar reflects a routine that she and her milieu have internalized as a lifestyle.
Each installation tells a meticulous story: a celebration of life in a particular decade that’s coming to a close, whether we like it or not. More In The Morning contextualizes the contemporary lifestyle of our generation.
Meri Simonyan is an Armenian curator and writer living in New York.