“The pics and video[s] are just for your #entertainment, but my cookies are the real meaning in my posts,” writes the Chinese-American actor Bai Ling on her Instagram feed. In this installation, a combination of a dressing table and a hall of mirrors, the self-validating nuggets of wisdom are reflected to us by way of a six-foot-tall screen.
For years now, Bai Ling has been surviving in what the Qatari-American video artist Sophia Al-Maria calls the “misogyny-industrial complex” of Hollywood. Al-Maria has been following Bai Ling’s blog for some time, and was inspired by her apparent indifference to the racism, homophobia and sexism that she’s subjected to on social media and in the tabloids.
Most of all, the artist was intrigued by the constant stream of “cookies” that Bai uses to end her posts. Al-Maria’s Mirror Cookie installation presents an intentionally disjointed monologue that references a self-help technique known as “mirror work.” It gradually develops into an impassioned improvisation delivered directly to the camera, as if the fourth wall she’s breaking is a reflection. As Bai Lings writes in one of her cookies, “We are our own mirror, reflecting the lights within.”