Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana,
Aksioma | Project Space
Komenskega 18, Ljubljana
14 May – 13 June 2014
Exhibition opening and lecture by Constant Dullaart: 14 May 2014 at 8 pm
At a time when the Internet has become, as it were, dead code on screen, because giant corporations have usurped and radically transformed its initial idea; when even philosophy, social theory and media studies indicate that a true, radical future exists outside the Internet (“The future is offline.” Cf. the studies of Steven Shaviro, Professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, and Jussi Parikka, Professor at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton); when we live in a so-called post-media reality – at such a time, the questions of virality and self-virality, transposition, constant translation, emptiness and repetitiveness, representation and identity are the key questions. With the exhibition Ego Massage, we tackle these questions directly. Ego Massage raises complex topical questions of translation of the digital into the analogue; far from exploiting the popularity of the concept of Internet meme, it takes a step further, returning memes to the real world, back to its biological (genetic) context.
Ego Massage is an urban performance and an installation project that attempts to transpose virality, social networking, memes and other contemporary web phenomena from the online public space to the offline public space, and from there to the exhibition space.
A while ago, artist Igor Štromajer introduced as his profile picture in all his social networks his own portrait with two circles (one red and one white) around his eyes. The resulting image was stylised, clear and instantaneously recognisable: perfect for viral diffusion. The author edited this profile picture into several hundreds of other photographs available online using automated web logarithms, services that facilitate quick, instantaneous photomontage. Mimicking the forms of diffusion of popular online media, the artist generated an “artistic meme”, that brought about not only the viral circulation of his own images, but also the spontaneous imitation and variation of his signature practice, with people editing these circles into their own profile pictures. (www.intima.org/ego-massage)
A meme is an idea, a form of behaviour or a style, which, within a certain cultural practice, spreads from one user to another. It works as a unit for the implementation of cultural ideas, symbols or practices that can be transmitted through writing, images, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitative phenomena. As a cultural phenomenon, a meme represents an analogy to human genes – it reproduces itself, it mutates and is therefore quick to respond to topical events. Although memes preexisted the Internet – some people say that memes are just the way our culture works – the Web has proven to be an extraordinary platform for the spreading of memes.
During the exhibition, the gallery will function as the headquarters of the public space intervention, and at the same time as the temporary folder where the idea is materialized and explained through hundreds of Štromajer’s selected and printed photomontages, where documentary material is collected and put on display, and where the awareness of the audience is enhanced with educational activities.
The opening of the exhibition will be accompanied by the presentation of Dutch intermedia artist Constant Dullaart, who also explores in depth the transitions from the Web into the real space and various forms of online and offline meme-performance.
Aksioma – Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana, 2014
Artistic Director: Janez Janša
Producer: Marcela Okretič
Executive Producer: Sonja Grdina
Public Relations: Mojca Zupanič
Technician: Valter Udovičić
Documentation: Adriana Aleksić
The programme of Aksioma Institute is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana.
Sponsor: Datacenter d.o.o.