In Erica Scourti’s work, we witness how emotions and experiences that may feel deeply personal can in fact be produced and circulated en masse via technological means. [...] The video opens [...] with Scourti’s father announcing that “they called us from the hospital to say father had died.” On screen, we see an idyllic image of a wide blue sea. Over the next seven minutes, Scourti’s father recounts the seemingly endless trials and tribulations of raising two rebellious teenagers and dealing with the recession, as well as the joys of parenthood: good exam results, a daughter returning from holiday. The narration is accompanied with similarly familiar scenes: young people sitting on a boat drinking beer, dancing in clubs, playing paddle tennis in the sea. At one point, Scourti’s father recites an anecdote about one evening when he and his wife decided to go out without making their children dinner: “of course, [… Erica and her sister Rosie] didn’t bother making anything to eat”. At this comment, father and daughter (the artist, who is present at the recording) break into laughter. The melodrama of the words spoken jars with the lightness of the telling; the distance between past and present is made audible. Scourti has described this interaction as a healing, reparative act – a reminder of the estrangements from and transformations of past selves that we can experience. Watching the film, a similar experience of estrangement takes place for the viewer, with the dawning revelation that the moving images accompanying the audio were in fact clips from YouTube videos of vacations to places in Greece mentioned in the diary. As Scourti has explained, by illustrating the intimate accounts of her father with anonymous, “stock” clips of the locations in question, “individual experience” merges with a “collective mass” of memories circulated by the internet, transporting us to an imagined land of endless sunset and boat parties.

by Gabrielle Schwarz; extract from ‘How does this make you feel? An essay’ (exhibition text for How Does This Make You Feel? Ja’Tovia Gary, Shigeko Kubota, Hunter Reynolds, Erica Scourti, Hales Project Room, New York, 30 June–4 August 2018)