Instagram promises democratic exposure for visual artists. It offers freedom from a reliance on the gallery as a gatekeeper of the art world. But, freedom at what cost?
Companies like Instagram and Facebook manufacture a unique economy of users, all working as unpaid freelancers for the platforms that they help to populate. In our post-commodity culture, images in the form of posts represent a closed loop of exchange, whereby levels of engagement are subsumed by the word “like” as an icon of approval.
With these new works from my Homage series, I confront the relentless circulation of images on social media. Through the screenshot, I amass exhaustive collections of Instagram posts, culling the endless variations on perceived subjective quirks and co-opting them into collective digital portraits. By appropriating these shared images into new works, I am interrupting the closed loop of exchange and highlighting the exploitation inherent in its initial creation. By resurrecting the poor image, as posited by Hito Steyerl, I recontextualize the infinitely circulated jpeg as an object commodity once again, thereby subverting the platform’s social network.