Texts collected by Valentina Peri – The New Romance Scammer’s Instructor


pIAR , ISBN 978-2958215408, English, 88 pages, 2022, Ghana

When an artist’s residency becomes a research project and the result goes beyond an installation, to a publication that provides historical and economic documentation, can we still call it ‘art’? This question seems particularly pertinent in the case of this book, which Valentina Peri realised during a residency at pIAR in Kumasi, Ghana. Peri collected texts used by online dating scammers. These scams were part of a broader scene that caused a loss of 547 million USD (mainly from Western victims) in 2021 alone. The collection, which is structured by the different stages of the process, explores the codification of the universal language of love, a code which already exists in the tradition of manuals for writing love letters that dates back to the 18th century. The power of this kind of narrative unfolding in digitally mediated communication overcomes the grammar and syntax errors found in the letters. The emerging love surrogates embody our emotional fragility and the ease with which machines with a universal interface commit an almost automatic fraud, using cut and paste most of the time. Peri’s research is a case study for the upcoming storm of fake texts generated by predictive language software. This book is part of a larger investigation of Peri’s, which includes her exhibitions and publications under the heading Data Dating [1].