Virtual Toxic : An Incredible Exhibition by Scylla Rhiadra

The latest exhibition at the Kondor Art Square by artist Scylla Rhiadra raises questions about the dark paths some people choose to take in the virtual world, using it as a pretext to justify their toxic behavior.

The two week period from November 25th to December 10th signifies United Nation Women’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, an international effort for elimination of violence against women. Scylla Rhiadra’s latest exhibition opens at the Kondor Art Square right in the middle of this period and is one that will linger in your mind for a long time after your visit.

The idea behind this exhibition started developing when Hermes, owner of the Kondor Art Center (of which the Kondor Art Square is a part), approached Scylla a month and a half ago asking if she would like to create an exhibition about toxicity and hypocrisy within Second Life. It has been a really long time since Scylla touched upon this unpleasant topic in her exhibitions, her last one being “Is this turning you on?“, which opened eleven years ago and tackled the subject of representation of gender violence in Second Life.

Virtual Toxic” by Scylla Rhiadra – The Kondor Art Square

The words Scylla uses in the introduction to the exhibit, found at the center of the Kondor Art Square, ring extremely true to anyone who has seen both shades of the virtual world. She says in her introduction:

“Why do we persist in replicating the flaws and toxicity of our sublunary physical existence in the virtual world as well? We can literally fly here. Why then do we fetter ourselves to the dark places on the ground?”

Rather than choosing to fill our Second Life with positivity, there are many who choose to venture into dark avenues within this virtual world. Through a set of twelve images and a small piece of 3D art, Scylla delves into the unpleasant, toxic side of the virtual world. Along with each image, Scylla also writes words to supplement the images.

From roleplay involving violent fetishes to prevalent male chauvinist behavior patterns, Scylla touches upon a number of things in this incredible exhibition that will make each of us reflect on our lives and of those we see around us.

Virtual Toxic” by Scylla Rhiadra – The Kondor Art Square

For example, “The Blue Dress” depicts a woman (referred to as Gabby), sitting on a hospital bed, wearing the blue hospital gown, staring at the floor in a mixture of shock, fear and anxiety. The accompanying text reveals that Gabby is a rape survivor who has no memory of what happened the night before, a result of possibly having been drugged. Scylla’s note ends with the statement that Gabby was not raped because she had too many drinks or because her dress was too revealing; she was raped because someone at the party was a rapist.

Like the example above, many of these images are relevant in not just the virtual world, but also the physical world in which we all live. In the virtual world, we are mere lines of code but in the physical world we are made out of flesh and blood, which is extremely real.

Similarly, in another image titled “Collectibles“, Scylla points out to the blatant objectification of women by some men in the virtual world, who keep a public list of their sexual “conquests” in their profile. These women are like trophies to them and Scylla depicts this in her image by putting a woman inside a cage within a study of sorts, which has been beautifully furnished. This is one of the strongest images in the exhibition, which most women will relate with.

Virtual Toxic” by Scylla Rhiadra – The Kondor Art Square

In “Playgirl“, Scylla puts the daddy-babygirl relationships in SL under her microscope. To further enhance the validity of her point, she uses a text in the photograph itself which is entirely comprised of keywords lifted from a few of the nearly 700 SL groups which appear when one searches for “daddy” or “babygirl“.

While the exhibition deals with some rather unpleasant topics, it is presented really well by Scylla and makes each of us think about what route in the virtual world we wish to take. The last image – “Toxic” – underlines the essence of the exhibition and asks the question we began our journey with once again – “Why?”

Why do some of us not choose to lead this beautiful life in peace and positivity, but choose to go on violent, unproductive journeys that lead them into a pit of darkness?

Kondor Art Collection – Kondor Art Square

The Kondor Art Square is also home to Hermes Kondor’s personal art collection, which he rotates monthly. Some incredible artworks by talented artists can be found in this room. We are proud to note that two of the pieces in this collection – “Problems” by Anja Neobookie and “Hooker” by Zynthea – are from exhibitions still ongoing at Art Korner and can be visited till December 18th.

Virtual Toxic” is an incredible exhibition, which almost reads like a story and takes us on a twisted, slightly disturbing journey, but one that will definitely open your eyes to the toxicity and hypocrisy waiting to be found all around you.

TELEPORT TO EXHIBITION