Mallika created and maintained a private Instagram account between the months of January 2016
and March 2016 in the self-distrust that proceeded her first experience with heartbreak.
Followed by no one and using an Instagram handle that reduced her to the basest part of her identity
as an anonymous South Asian female, Mallika took and posted pictures of post-heartbreak Self.
What happens to a photo that falls into cyberspace with no one there to see it? She hardly knew
herself. She hardly knew her Self, after destroying the partnership that served as her internal
compass. But communicating the depth of her heart’s break to her family, friends, or co-workers was
not possible. Mallika had never viewed her Self as one that could be broken, let alone allow others to
gaze upon her as such.
Through @desigirl105, each selfie sent into nobody’s news feed but her own renewed a small part
of Mallika's trust with her shattered Self by giving it a private viewing of vulnerability. This collection
of selfies reiterated Mallika's Self as her final and only audience, and one who needed to be nurtured
diligently. A portfolio soon grew of Mallika's various pieces post-heartbreak - tender and defiant,
devastated and joyous, new hairstyles and old acne, unmotivated and bed-ridden or glowing with
confidence on BART - all chanting to her: “Continuity is possible, reconstruction inevitable.”
Throughout these months, Mallika’s secret anti-social media allowed her a private forum in which to
witness her Self without the ripples (when received) and echoes (when ignored) that come from acts
of public vulnerability on social media. Now, she would like to turn the private over to the public to
allow her Self the act of public vulnerability that felt impossible two years ago.
For the duration of USAAF, as part of Appendix Collective’s </3 exhibition, Mallika will
re-activate @desigirl1059, by removing the account’s privacy setting and allowing visitors
inside a relic of a time period that she has, until now, treated with a reverence, fear, and
privacy that prohibit her to move fully forward in her new relationship with the same partner.
The page remains untouched since her last post two years ago. She strongly encourages the
use of Instagram comments to create a forum for visitors’ responses.
At the conclusion of the exhibition on May 31, she will delete the account. By removing this relic of
heartbreak from existence, she grants herself the strength to release. She faces all the
impermanences contained in this heartbreak: the impermanence of the relationship that came before
it, the impermanence of the shattering of heart that she felt so strongly during this time, and most
importantly, the impermanence of her need to hold on to the heartbreak itself.