Winter 2015 : Audrey Samson

  • Residency: 26 January - 20 March 2015
  • Project presentation: 1 - 5 April 2015
  • Audrey Samson


Have you ever thought of erasing your entire digital footprint? All those selfies, archived emails, tweets, likes, check-ins, late night chat sessions...

We never really know what to do with our old storage devices, hard drives, old phones full of our secrets, and sometimes, secrets that we have forgotten about ourselves, or at least forgotten their imprint. Because we are afraid of letting them go, because we are not sure we want to get rid of them, because we wonder what will happen to them, who would find them, and what would they do with them...we do not know whether or not our anxieties are justified, but we still have them.

In this project, Audrey Samson orchestrates a funeral for digital footprints and identities. Samson collects USB keys and other storage devices and, by request, coats them in epoxy, forever sealing them. In a previous manifestation of the project, she received the material, embalmed them, and returned them to the sender. The participants could then preserve their symbolic funeral object. The collected storage devices will form an installation. During the vernissage, Samson will present a live embalming of storage devices, which visitors will be invited to bring along, by coating them in epoxy on location.

This is, of course, a symbolic funeral: although the action carried out by the artist is concrete, it is nevertheless impossible to erase the entire path of digital footprints that we leave be hind, or to veritably destroy the storage material. However, as much as a mourning ritual or funeral contains symbolic meaning for a flesh and blood human, these practices aim to psychologically aid in mourning something, often a lost relation, or part of a past life, or any other now undesirable memory that needs to be let go. Via the artistic act, it is the physical manifestation of a process of psychological mourning, acceptance and identity building. It is also a collective, critical and engaging reflection on today's digital age, and our 'virtual doubles' that take up so much place, existence and permanence, beyond ourselves, at times beyond even our own death. Emails and social media keep hold of our footprints. Audrey Samson's act reveals, before all else, the impossibility of completely erasing the entirety of our digital presence. It reveals also, perhaps, our difficulty in actually wanting this erasure to take place. It seems that today, we seek to keep a trace of everything via our computers. Ethical, ontological and societal questions are profoundly associated with these reflections. Samson reflects upon these underlying theoretical questions here:

The artist seeks to involve the public in her working process: this is how her poetic act takes on meaning. If you would like to participate by donating a storage device, please contact the artist directly for more information:

You can also leave your used materials for Audrey during the Open Lab evenings that take place every fifteen days, on Thursday nights, 6pm-9pm, the next one being on Thursday 12 February. It is equally possible to bring along materials on the evening of the vernissage for the live embalming: more information will be given on possible materials to bring along before the date of the vernissage.

This project has already been presented in New Zealand and Hong Kong. For documentation on a previous stage of the project: []

The result will be presented at Eastern Bloc, from April 1st to 5th, 2015, after which you will be able to bring the object of your desires home with you for display on your mantelpiece.

  • Residency: 26 January - 20 March 2015
  • Project presentation: 1 - 5 April 2015