May 08 – June 30, 2018
curated by Clusterduck
hosted by greencube.gallery
Artists: Simon Villaret, Jules Durand, David Renaissance man, Shay Ariely , Dottor Pira, Nicole Ruggero, Polyducks
Special guest: Pietro Parisi
#MEMEPROPAGANDA is an IRL/URL exhibition project, curated by Clusterduck collective and hosted by Greencube.gallery, taking place from the 8th of May to the 30th of June.
Greencube.gallery is an online exhibition space run by Guido Segni and Matìas Ezequiel Reyes focusing in and promoting projects which concepts stress the limits and the relationship between virtual and real.
Clusterduck is an interdisciplinary collective working at the crossroads of research, design and filmmaking, focusing on the processes and actors behind the creation of Internet related content.
The show represents a reflection on the growing role of memes in digital society, critically examining their wide reaching impact on contemporary aesthetics, politics and academia.
#MEMEPROPAGANDA is also an experiment in collective memetic production, challenging the public to participate in an online competition of meme character design.
Six selected artists will work to create a set of iconic posters, having as protagonists the fabulous creatures known as meme characters. The posters will be spread in selected locations IRL/URL and will contain a call to action, inviting the wider public to visit the exhibition and take part in its interactive, participatory format. This will be structured as an homage to classic imageboard websites, which have been the natural ecosystems in which memes first developed. The resulting interactions and artistic experiments are going to be documented and will form integral part of the exhibition.
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At least since Donald Trump posted his portrait as Pepe the Frog on Twitter, igniting a discussion about the political use of memes that is still in full swing, the potential role of memetic signifiers as powerful means to steer communication and build mass consent has become clear. Like advertising, which arose from the development of modern propaganda techniques and their application to the emerging technologies of radio, cinema and television, memetics seduce us with an ineffable promise of new insights about semantic manipulation in the age of social and digital splintering.
Parallels can be drawn between the use of early psychology’s insights for the exploitation of public desires through marketing techniques, and the platform economy’s current obsession with attention management. Likewise, new art forms emerging around meme culture have often been compared to pop-art for their ironic use of mainstream cultural iconography and their twisted obsession with consumerism’s aesthetics.
However, the different role of authoriality and the new centrality of prosumerism in the age of digital social networks mark a clear distinction between the two aforementioned artistic currents, questioning the legitimacy of traditional curatorial approaches.
If, to a certain extent, and as duly noted by most observers, memes show many of the characteristics of a subculture – such as exclusivity, aesthetic refinement and linguistic opacity – when we take the extent of their impact into account, this comparison appears reductive, to say the least. We think that it is now more urgent than ever to understand, analyze and disseminate the knowledge that memetics imply. If it is true that these small, seemingly trivial semantic artifacts can contribute to overthrow the power of traditional establishments, spreading meme knowledge becomes an act of political education. #MEMEPROPAGANDA therefore wants to transcend the obsolete contraposition between the so-called normies, exponents of the vexed mainstream, and the so-called autistics, self-proclaimed guardians of an “authentic” memetic culture. We want to deepen the reflection on the implications and value of the various memetic currents, from edgy to wholesome.
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#MEMEPROPAGANDA wants to take the aforementioned developments into account, adopting a position comparable to that of an anthropologist studying urban subcultures: through participant observation, the exhibition will attempt to act as catalyst for memetic processes. However, we will not pretend to be neutral in this process: we maintain that the stakes are too high, and the potential outcomes too wide-reaching, to concede ourselves the luxury of indifference. We will have our heroes, our princesses and princes, and of course our villains: but you might be surprised in discovering that heroes can fail, princesses and princes can be evil, and villains might be our only hope.
Behold the magnificent world of #MEMEPROPAGANDA: a world where meme characters interact with us, ceaselessly entertaining, provoking, confusing and enchanting us.
They can be frogs, bears, humans, monsters, freaks, or something entirely different: what they all have in common, is their capacity to become mirrors, reflecting our very own desires and fears, our miseries and our dreams. They are precious instruments, and powerful beings; but most of all, they are what we want them to become.