Kate Durbin is an artist and writer from Los Angeles, California (USA), whose work spans video, performance art, digital media, and poetry. Her artworks are nervous, often unnerving, and playful explorations of the human condition in a time of constant screens, globalism, and socioeconomic inequality. She draws on a wide-range of popular culture references in her work, both deeply personal to the artist and social-historical: Disneyland, reality TV shows, fast food, horror movie characters, and Hello Kitty are just some of the references that populate her work. She has published four books of poetry, with her most recent being Hoarders (Wave Books). Her work has been presented internationally by various galleries and institutions including Haifa Museum (Israel), Peer to Space (Berlin, Germany), Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival (Xiamen, China), Pulse Art Fair (Miami, USA), Transfer Gallery (New York, USA), Spring/Break Art Fair (Los Angeles, USA), and GOLD/BETON (Cologne, Germany). She is winner of the international 2017 Turn on Literature Prize for electronic literature for her poetry iOS app, ABRA: A Living Text. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Art in America, Art Forum, and elsewhere.
Title: Unfriend Me Now!
In Unfriend Me Now! Durbin imagines Facebook becoming flesh, in the form of a figure she calls “Facebook Clown.” Unfriend Me Now! transforms Facebook into an hellscape of comic and horrific endless soapboxing and rage, a place of eternal polarization and algorithmically infected language, and moods.
In the months after this work was initially posted on Facebook, Facebook headquarters contacted Durbin, requesting for her to come in and share her thoughts on Facebook with them. She did not reply to their request. Later, in 2020, in the months leading up to the Presidential election in the USA, Facebook contacted Durbin again requesting for her to be a part of an academic study about Facebook’s effect on the upcoming election. They offered to pay her approximately $20 if she would deactivate her account through the election. Again, she did not reply to their request.