5 Artists Responding to Social Media via Art
Art reflects life and as ours become increasingly lived online, it only makes sense that our relationships to social media become the inspiration for new art. Often a subject for digital artists, the internet finds itself reflected in traditional mediums like painting and film photography in the work by these 5 young artists. Some take a cynical look at social media at the core of the disintegration of relationships and community, while others offer appreciation for its ability to forge friendships.
Banele Khoza’s solo show ‘LOVE?’ opened at SMITH Gallery earlier this year. Critical of social media’s intrinsic role in modern day hook-up culture, the collection of pastel-hued paintings sought to question love and relationships in the hyper-connected world we live in. In his artist statement, Banele says, “We are immersed in a curated reality and only exposed to the best part of people’s lives, yet we haven’t learnt to objectively consume images. So, we create a reality of their lives in our minds based on what has been shared. When we are confronted with these images, they prey on what is lacking in our own lives.” When it comes to dating apps, Banele told INDIE, “People are treated like options. There’re 1000 other people online if you do not meet the ‘criteria’.” In his painting ‘Third Party’ a cellphone rests on the pillow between a couple in bed – a distraction alluding to a disconnect between the two or perhaps a lover lurking in their DMs. His painted musings on love in a digital age highlight these insecurities in the way of happy ever after.
More about Banele’s work here.
Callan Grecia’s 2017 solo exhibition title ‘These Aesthetics Are Not New’ makes the statement that there can be no original creative output in a post-internet era as we’re all influenced by the continuous and rapid stream of imagery on social media platforms. He says, “As a young painter I’m interested in the visual language of digital technology, the increase of its appearance through the internet in the physical world and the blending of virtual and physical.” In the show, paintings on the wall were replicated and printed onto t-shirts which were also on exhibited. Vinyl internet slang was pasted around the space and rap music and cellphone notifications created the soundscape to mirror the ‘frantic nature of the world within the screen.’ The show was live streamed from his Instagram account.
More of Callan’s work here.
Louis De Villiers
Previously known as Skullboy, Louis De Villiers’ solo show at Kalashnikovv last year was titled ‘The Preoccupied Lives of Islands’ and critiqued ubiquitous cellphone culture and the dysfunctions of social media. He argues that mediums like social media intended to connect us further alienate us from our communities. In Louis’ paintings, his subjects find themselves in beautiful lush vegetation but instead of enjoying or interacting with their surrounds, they’re preoccupied with the devices they hold in their hands. His artist statement reads: “As online etiquette is still being established and felt-out, it is becoming evident that our online personas are beginning to hold more social currency than real-life experiences and actions…Despite this pooling of experiential information, humans as a community are becoming more and more isolated by this drive to craft online personas – as more emphasis is placed on an online existence and validation, we pour more of our time and energy into our online relationships than our real-life ones.”
More about Louis work here.
Musonda Kabwe is an illustrator whose Instagram comic ‘No Narrative’ reflects the struggles of everyday life. In today’s world that inevitably means that among themes like work stress is the inclusion of social media anxieties. Musonda approaches the comic like a visual diary borrowing experiences from his own life which he then abstracts and illustrates. In one storyline a human-sized cellphone tries to distract two women meeting for a glass of wine. Musonda told INDIE, “I love social media because it lets me share my work with a wide range of different people globally with a few hashtags. The downside is that the external approval is very addictive. My life becomes a game of Pacman where the white dots have been replaced with ‘Likes, Followers, & Comments’ and I’m constantly trying to beat my previous high score. This game of Pacman is endless, so it wastes a lot of my time.”
More about Musonda’s work here.
Katya Abedian’s latest photo story is called ‘Internet Friends’. In soft film photographs, she captures a group of friends who came together through Instagram. The series chooses to take a less cynical look at social media, appreciating it as a great connector and the platform through which people can find a community and support system; a way to stay in touch with friends. The artist statement, written by one of the models Candace Redlinghys reads: “‘Internet Friends’ is a story about transcending social media’s pitfalls while aspiring to form meaningful, sincere friendships. The title in itself is such an oxymoron. We often associate the internet with ominous feelings. It’s a place we go to get and give information. To buy and sell products but never ever to find meaningful friendships and relationships. The title paints a warmer picture of a distant tool responsible for globalisation. It implies that the internet connects us in ways we never thought possible. If, we allow it to.”
More about Skin Diver, Katya’s latest film project, here.
Curated & written by Alix-Rose Cowie.