Marisa S. Olson, "Untitled Pixel Weaving", 2015, from the series "PERMASIGNS", mixed media, 10x8”.

Marisa S. Olson, “Untitled Pixel Weaving”, 2015, from the series “PERMASIGNS”, mixed media, 10×8”.

Marisa S. Olson


Permasigns is a series of icons, totems, and impressions of popular forms incorporating weavings and braids that combine the techniques of so-called “women’s work” with the visual language of the so-called “boy’s world” of pixelated computer screens and skate culture, the positive and negative forms phallicly enculturated as vaginal vessels in the world of the plastic arts and yet referred to as “male” and “female” parts in the world of electronics–or even “master” and “slave” in computing parlance. The series takes up offline forms of media, mediated practice, and memes of which life in internet culture has raised our awareness, and extends my research interests in postinternet art practice, postbinary feminism, and occupational therapy.


Marisa S. Olson, “STAR TREK TNG/TLG”, 2015, edition of 1 + AP, 3.5 floppy disks, 3½x3½x3”


Star Trek TNG/TLG is an enquiry into the performative aspects of the act of searching the internet and its relationship to the cultural values expressed in the popularity of science fiction phenomena, which also revolve around narratives of searching for intelligent life, or for answers to deeper questions about ourselves. In this case, it is also a re-creation of the last gift my mother gave me while she was alive: A collection of Star Trek The Next Generation .wav audio files she’d scoured the web to find in the early-internet era. While I regretfully discarded the gift in my teens, I now see it as anticipatory of the postinternet work I’d come to make, years later. In the gallery, this piece manifests as a stack of floppy diskettes containing the search results of a performative effort to rewrite a negative memory. Despite its small scale, the data-totem is almost monolithic in its containment of symbolic data and signification of cultural and technological change. The data inside these shells is merely suggested, but not truly available to viewers who are only confronted with the residue of this memory.

MARISA S. OLSON’s work combines performance, video, drawing & installation to address the cultural history of technology, the politics of participation in pop culture & the aesthetics of failure. Her work has been shown at the Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou, Tate(s) Modern + Liverpool, the Nam June Paik Art Center, FACT, the British Film Institute, Sundance Film Festival, PERFORMA Biennial, and has been commissioned or collected by the Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Houston Center for Photography, Experimental Television Center, and PS122. This work’s been reviewed in Artforum, Art21, Liberation, Folha de Sao Paolo, the Village Voice, and elsewhere. New York Magazine has called Marisa one of the Top Five video artists working online, Wired has called her both funny and humorous, the New York Times once called her “anything but stupid,” and the Wall Street Journal considers her their “Walkman Historian” of choice.
Marisa’s critiques of contemporary art and digital visual culture have extended to writing for Flash Art, Art Review, Afterimage, and Art on Paper and to curating exhibitions and programs at the Guggenheim; White Columns; Artists Space; the Performa Biennial; Zero1; SFMOMA, where she co-founded their media arts group, SMAC!, and edited their eponymous zine; SF Camerawork, where she was Associate Director and edited the Camerawork Journal; and Rhizome, at the New Museum, where she was an active collaborator for over ten years, and was Editor and Curator.

She studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths, History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz, and Rhetoric & Film Studies at UC Berkeley. She has recently been a visiting artist at Yale, Oberlin, the Brakhage Symposium; Visiting Faculty at Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts; and Visiting Faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Ox-Bow program. She previously taught at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ new media graduate program (ITP) and was Assistant Professor of New Media at SUNY-Purchase’s School of Film & Media Studies. She is currently Visiting Critic at Brown University.

Marisa was born in Germany and lives in New York.