My Friends

150 hand painted profile portraits

My Friends consists of a series of paintings of profile photos sourced through Mieke Gerritzen’s social media accounts. Gerritzen has more than 800 Facebook friends. She studied the list and selected a group of real friends – people who are truly part of her social network. Each of us is able to maintain a maximum of 150 friendships, yet Facebook has set the limit at 5,000 “friends” per person. According to an Oxford University study, our brains lack the capacity to manage relationships with more than 150 people at a time. However social we may be, the part of the brain that stores active thoughts limits the number of social contacts. The researchers defined friends as people we care about and see at least once a year and whose relationship to our other friends is known to us.

My Friends gives the ephemeral digital network forged through social media a permanent quality. In a bid to anchor virtual reality, the project materialises part of unbounded digital space and therefore delimits it. The collection of paintings symbolises the age of the network society. The profile photos are rendered in a unique way, magnifying their digital origins. Gerritzen has made paintings from 150 Social Media profile photos.