By Katya Conrad
It’s not every day that you get to talk to someone as creative, intelligent and kind as Kaylina Kodlick. In October, McGill Cultural Studies and Art History student Kaylina exhibited an artwork, officially “Untitled” for the Fridge Door Gallery’s IRL/URL vernissage. This was a painting which not only drew visitors in through its enriching and vibrant colour palette, but also due to the interesting intellectual debate which it sparked. The painting depicts a girl taking a picture of herself and her friend with a kitchen mirror. The composition of the work is based on an incident that occurred when one of Kaylina’s friends, who was supposed to be pet-sitting for her, invited a friend over and uploaded a selfie taken in the house to Instagram. The friend messaged Kaylina after having uploaded the picture and acknowledged the oddness of the situation; there was an interesting breach between private and public life made by someone who was not even supposed to be in that private space. This sparked an interesting conversation between Kaylina and I on what online etiquette even is, and how one can subsequently observe it. The message was almost sweet but also acted to elevate the situation to a level that was possibly more bizarre than it was initially.
Online etiquette is a grey area of technology that’s rather hard to navigate, what Kaylina managed to do through her painting is explore such an ethically intriguing topic with light hearted vibrancy and aestheticism. This topic is not only applicable to Instagram pictures but, as Kaylina states, it is even hard to navigate the different levels of friendship that express themselves over the internet. For instance, the whole phenomenon of your distant relatives or family friends you met at one dinner five years ago commenting on your pictures, and the etiquette of showing that you care but then that entailing an action which comes across as random or obviously as a formality.
Additionally, Kaylina’s Cultural Studies classes have given her a rather interesting interpretation of movies and understanding of how they’re made. Both a blessing and a curse, even though she can now analyse the depths of movie-making, it also means that watching bad movies for fun is no longer a mindless activity that she is able to take part in as her mind works naturally to analyse all the decisions made by the directors, producers, writers, and actors. What was particularly interesting was her commentary on Bohemian Rhapsody, a movie detailing the life of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, and what it means to make a movie about someone when they are not around to guide their own portrayal. While the other members of Queen, Brian May and Roger Taylor and John Deacon, were involved in the making of the biopic of their frontman, Kaylina observes that it was not surprising they were written as rather sympathetic characters who acted well in all the situations they were put in while Freddie wasn not painted in such a kind light. It is interesting to see how media and etiquette come together in many forms as it is not only through posting pictures of someone else’s space and putting it in a different context that can lead to such bizarre situations, but also representing someone’s character in a manipulated or biased way can also create tension between faithful representation and cinematic etiquette.
Kaylina’s artwork extends beyond the confines of the online world and can be applied to a larger picture, exploring all the ways in which our private homes or thoughts, and even actions, can be manipulated by other people who suddenly become privy to this private information. Kaylina’s artistic style has evolved through the years, with the help of her mother who happens to be an art teacher. Kaylina’s is unique and vibrant, pulling from Fauvist influences, and she claims that she can see clear indications of her own progress from past artworks. She mentions that previously she was less confident in putting bold, clean lines on the paper, whereas now that element of painterliness is such a bold aspect of her works. As she grows even further as an artist, I sincerely hope she chooses to tackle similar themes as she did so in an incredibly evocative and inspiring way.