19 May–16 June 2021
Part of the conference series Tactics & Practice
In the past ten years, online participatory culture has gained more and more relevance, deeply influencing the way we create, consume and exchange content. Ever-growing Internet access – having reached 60% worldwide penetration – has in fact led to radical changes on many levels, forcing us to reconsider our ideas on communication, economy, politics and also art. A new, widespread digital fluency, both in terms of content production and distribution, together with the formation of a surprisingly varied array of virtual communities, is giving birth to fresh languages and aesthetics on a daily basis, in an unstoppable and dizzying cycle of cultural manufacturing and remixing.
Internet memes in all their different forms and declinations – image macros, videos, photo-fads, catch-phrases and performative chains – are the hot core of this new ecosystem: They shape our view of the world, influencing cultural and political processes, but they can also be read, following Fredric Jameson’s study on postmodernism, as our dominant “cultural logic”, a logic centred on wild appropriation, endless remix and bold re-signification.
While the sociological and political implications of internet memes have been widely analysed, the aesthetic discourse is more often overlooked. The kaleidoscopic and chaotic world of online participatory culture not only influences countless contemporary artists, especially in the field of visual art, but it constitutes an independent art factory in itself, producing an avalanche of creative content that shapes our gaze and taste. Also, it is impossible not to notice that more and more people are adopting – spontaneously and often unknowingly – practices that seem to draw directly from the avant-garde, like appropriation, détournement, extreme photographic manipulation, performative acts and experimental use of language. To describe such cultural tactics, especially in the context of very popular social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and TikTok, Canadian scholar Darren Wershler has coined the expression “conceptualism in the wild”, emphasizing their spontaneous and untamed character.
The MemesteticA program explores the world of memes and participatory culture by focusing on its relationship with modern and contemporary visual art. The goal is to discuss meme aesthetics and to investigate the role that this unregulated cultural system – characterized by an unprecedented level of participation – will have in reshaping our concept of art and its role in society.
19 May 2021
An Investigation of Memes as Art and Art as Memes
20 May–4 June 2021
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana
The Detective Wall Guide
20 May–9 June 2021
Valentina Tanni et al.
SERIES of TALKS
21 May 2021
Memes as Hyperstitional Technology
Online / Kino Šiška
22 May 2021
The Internet Yami-Ichi
Central Market, Ljubljana
9 June–2 July 2021
Everything Must Go
Aksioma | Project Space, Ljubljana
MemesteticA – The Eternal September of Art
Home-made trolls, YouTubers and Instagrammers are leaving an aesthetic legacy that recalls the precepts of the historical avant-gardes, cheerfully distorted in a bizarre and wild way. How do the arts that we find in museums react to such retaliation? What if the art history books of the future would list not only works of art made by those formally recognised artist-geniuses, but also all memes made by anonymous users hidden behind all those absurd pseudonyms?
Valentina Tanni is an art historian, curator and lecturer. Her research focuses on the relationship between art and technology, with a particular focus on internet culture. She is adjunct professor of Digital Art at Politecnico University in Milan and lecturer of the course Culture Digitali (Digital Cultures) at NABA. Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome and Milan. She is also currently part of Artribune’s editorial team as a writer, managing editor and social media consultant. She published Random. Navigando contro mano, alla scoperta dell’arte in rete (Link editions, 2011) e Memestetica. Il settembre eterno dell’arte (Nero, 2020). Since November 2020 she is a member of Rome Quadriennale Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2021
In coproduction with:
Kino Šiška Centre for Urban Culture, Ljubljana
The Academy of Fine Arts and Design of the University of Ljubljana
konS – Platform for Contemporary Investigative Arts
Supported by: the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, the Municipality of Ljubljana and Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Slovenia