First Look: Neïl Beloufa's Screen Talk

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Originally shot in 2014, Neïl Beloufa's Screen Talk is a web-based mini-series that depicts a world afflicted by a major pandemic, presented in an interface that introduces almost childish gameplay and spam-like distractions into the experience.

The main characters in Screen Talk are doctors, academics, and civilians, all under quarantine due to a novel respiratory virus and communicating with one another, awkwardly, by video conference. “Is the connection good? Can you hear me?” The videos map the interactions among this loose professional network as they jockey for professional standing and funding in the midst of pandemic. 

Presaging current events, Screen Talk explores issues of information circulation, dominant scientific discourse, and the individualism of our age through a lo-fi and absurdist approach. Beloufa doesn’t focus on the disease itself, but rather the alienation that it induces, and the alienating forms of communication and self-presentation it fosters. The scientists argue about method; a family argues about the psychological well-being of a son. He just misses his long-distance girlfriend. 

The project also models new forms of artistic and film production and circulation for an unprecedentedly web-centric world. The website presents Screen Talk’s five episodes in an interface that seems to create a social and gamified experience for viewers, with a chat interface and incentives such as artist editions for winners, who must complete nonsensical quizzes about the plot of the film and the world at large. Ultimately, though, the choices offered to viewers are meaningless, adding busywork that seems unlikely to yield any real reward.


Neïl Beloufa (1985, Paris) lives and works in Paris. The artist’s solo exhibitions include The Enemy of my Enemy, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2018); Global Agreement, Schirn Künsthalle Frankfurt, Frankfurt (2018); Neïl Beloufa, The Pejman Foundation, Teheran (2017); Projects 102: Neïl Beloufa, MoMA PS1, New York (2016); Counting On People, ICA, London (2014); Production Value, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2013).His works have also been presented in institutional collective exhibitions such as 58th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2019); Bridging the Gap, Tsinghua University Art Museum, Beijing (2018); Yellow Creature, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne (2017); AVATAR AND ATAVISM, Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf (2015); La Biennale de Lyon, Lyon (2013); The Unicorn, Cleveland Museum of Art (2013); 55th Venice Biennale, The Encyclopedic Palace, Veneza (2013); Wiener Secession 11th Baltic Triennale, CAC, Vilnius (2012)


Major support for First Look is provided by the Neeson / Edlis Artist Commissions Fund.