It seems these days Instagram can bring you fame and a lot of money if you post half-naked selfies or breakfast with some fucking avocado on it…
But one young artist has used it for a more interesting purpose- to create a thought provoking commentary on the narcissistic world of social media.
Meet Amalia Ulman. Her spoofed selfies tricked thousands of people and will now become the first-ever Instagram series of art to make a controversial museum debut at London’s Tate Modern.
It all started back in April 2014, when the young Argentinian-born artist uploaded an image on her Instagram feed. It included the phrase ‘Part I’, in black letters on white with the caption ‘Excellences & Perfections’.
Many liked the post, but they didn’t realise this would be the beginning of one of the most original and outstanding artworks of the digital era.
The images seemed to document her attempt to make it as an ‘It girl’ in Los Angeles.
Posing in lingerie in boutique hotel rooms, close-ups of flowers and kittens, and a load of brunch images it seemed she was vacuously bragging about her apparently enviable lifestyle in LA. But it’s more than meets the eye…
Speaking to The Telegraph, Amalia said:
People started hating me. Some gallery I was showing with freaked out and was like, ‘You have to stop doing this, because people don’t take you seriously anymore.’ Suddenly I was this dumb bitch because I was showing my ass in pictures.
It seemed she was quickly wrecking her career, but not known to tens of thousands of people who started following her- she really wasn’t.
After five months she posted a black-and-white image of a rose, which she captioned ‘The End’ and soon after explained how it was an elaborate performance.
All those ridiculous half-naked, ‘dumb’ looking selfies were all a joke. The ‘boob job’ she had, the pole dancing lessons, all completely faked.
Everything was scripted. I spent a month researching the whole thing. There was a beginning, a climax and an end. I dyed my hair. I changed my wardrobe. I was acting: it wasn’t me.
Amalia first had the idea for ‘Excellences & Perfections’ during her fine art degree at Central Saint Martins, London, but never had the budget to do it justice. She had to work as an escort towards the end of her time in London and the experiences of her escort friends, helped the story of ‘Excellences & Perfections’.
She decided to divide her performance into three ‘episodes’ which were inspired by stereotypes of how young woman portray themselves online.
First, she plays an artsy girl who’s made a big move to LA before breaking up with her boyfriend and becoming a ‘sugar baby’ to make ends meet.
This then rolls into the second phase where she mocks American celebrities, the likes of the Kardashians and starts acting crazy, posting bad photos online of her getting a boob job, taking drugs, having a breakdown and ending up in rehab.
The third and final stage sees her devote herself to recovery, uploaded pics of yoga and juices and that’s pretty much it.
It was more than a satire. I wanted to prove that femininity is a construction, and not something biological or inherent to any woman. Women understood the performance much faster than men. They were like, ‘We get it – and it’s very funny.’ The joke was admitting how much work goes into being a woman and how being a woman is not a natural thing. It’s something you learn.
Fair play to her, it definitely makes you think…