Originally published in the catalogue of the group exhibition Eternal September – The rise of amateur culture, this essay by the Slovenian art collective Smetnjak is an excursus about Internet memes, especially about the kind known as the image macro. The image macro – a picture combined with superimposed texts in order to produce a humorous effect – represents one of the most popular means of expression on the Internet for years.
The assemblage of an image and a caption seems to respond to the call Walter Benjamin made in his book about Charles Baudelaire The Writer of Modern Life, a call for a new form of literacy more native to the image-saturated society of spectacle.
Smetnjak have responded to this call by trying to practice critical theory within the pop form of meme, often focusing on the Slovenian cultural celebrity Slavoj Žižek. Here they explain why and how.
Smetnjak: We Started a Meme Which Started the Whole World Crying
Series edited by Janez Janša
Publisher: Aksioma – Institiute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana
Represented by: Marcela Okretič
Co-publisher: Link Editions, Brescia
Design: Luka Umek
Layout: Sonja Grdina
(c) Aksioma | Text and image copyrights by authors | Ljubljana 2014
Printed and distributed by: Lulu.com
Previously published in Domenico Quaranta (ed.), Eternal September. The Rise of Amateur Culture, pp. 14–23, Link Editions, Brescia 2014. The book is available for free download or print-on-demand at:www.aksioma.org/eternal.september.
Supported by Creative Europe – Culture sub-programme, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, the Municipality of Ljubljana, Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Slovenia and Institut français de Slovénie.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Related event: Eternal September – The rise of amateur culture