Gabi Abrão, artist, writer and purveyor of all things wholesome, runs Sigh Swoon, an Instagram page dedicated to “developing a language with the invisible,” as she puts it. Whether this involves sharing memes about self-care, dreams and nostalgia, or shrewd observations about the relationship between URL and tangible realities, Abrão’s account is a beacon of light in the anxiety brew that forms much of social media these days.
Often, the 26-year-old will communicate with her 128,000 followers via long, sharp captions about romance, sex, death and forgiveness – all that good stuff. By talking through these existential subjects, Abrão makes them sound more humorous than scary, adding a deeply therapeutic quality to her online musings.
As well as making art, the Los Angeles native regularly updates digi-guides to meditation and mysticism, while hosting the Illusion Pod podcast with her best friend, James Francis. Topics of discussion include but are not limited to: imposter syndrome, orgasms, Kim Kardashian and ghosts.
Although Abrão has fostered a strong bond with her followers over the years – she once posted about finding a random chair on the street, which led hundreds of people to share anecdotes about its design and where it possibly came from – the time has come for her to slowly move away from being so online.
“I’ve been centring myself on more tangible works and practices,” says Abrão, “like making books you can actually hold in your hands, paintings, drawings, playful merch and, when it feels safe again, workshops and events.
“Connecting and sharing over social media is always rewarding, but there’s nothing like your work being on someone’s bookshelf or hung on their wall. 10,000 likes on a post cannot compare to the energy of ten people in a room connecting over shared inspiration. I’m excited for the future.”
From Brazilian BBQ memories to evocative miniature art, Abrão shares her most treasured, real-life items below.
“I collect sculptures of upright hands and these are my favourites of the bunch. Hands symbolise everything that ignites my life: creating, connecting, reaching for existential answers and physical touch, which is my primary love language. I often muse on how hands are the original human tool. Even now, with the abundance of smartphones and handheld technology, they still are… just in a more covert way.”
An answer dice from inside a Magic 8 Ball
“In 2018, I filmed a video piece in which I attempted to crack open a Magic 8 Ball to ‘obtain all the answers’ inside of it. That video was shown at a group show soon after. At the time, I was in deep with astrology and divination, constantly relying on outer sources for guidance, to the point where I wasn’t gaining clarity anymore. Performing this ritual was a reminder to trust my own choices and intentions, and allow myself to find answers through my own life experiments without fear. The extracted dice is one of my favourite objects, always on display.”
A photograph of Abrão’s dad feeding her at a barbecue in 1998
“My dad immigrated to the USA from Brazil in the ’80. The spiritualist beliefs and general outlook from his culture have had a huge influence on me and how I live my life. A lot of my childhood memories include being fed pieces of churrasco (Brazilian barbecue) or fruit at house parties, from tables too high for me to see. I adore this photo so much. I find it to be such a distinct image of my father’s care and influence on me. He is still always cutting up fruit and offering it at random hours of the day, as well as being the first person I come to for spiritual advice and humour.”
Salvador Dalí's 50 Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship
“This book is a work of art. In the prologue, Dalí tells us that, although he filled a whole book with tips and tricks, the most important secret about creating will be found in the final line of the book. When you go to the final line, it says, ‘…before all else, it is absolutely necessary that at the moment when you sit down before your easel to paint your picture, your painter’s hand be guided by an angel.’ I find this little side-journey in the book to be so clever and humorous, as well as a reminder of how intertwined spirituality and art-making can be. Inspiration and creation can often feel like it is transcending earth, guided by spirits. I also have found that one can hold all the tips and tricks in the world, but still struggle to make work that inspires them. Art is such a subjective playground.”
Miniature clay scene artwork by Meg Miles
“This piece was gifted to me by an artist who makes clay miniature scenes, Meg Miles. It features some of the most highly photographed items I own and have shared on my Instagram. I love this piece because it feels so meta and captures how being a presence online can feel. On people’s phones, we are all doll-sized images with accessories and words on a little corner of the internet, and yet our work and influence travels far beyond that flat medium. This piece is a playful representation of that feeling for me.”