How many times have you wondered whether an Instagram friend’s photo feed is too good, sexy and lavish to be true? What if your suspicious thoughts about a social media profile which interestingly captured your attention, were proved right? Even worse, how would you feel if after a short term engagement with this profile, you would face an end post saying ‘The End’ along with a picture of a black and white rose?
In the spring of 2014, the 24 year-old Argentinean Los-Angeles-based artist, Amalia Ulman created a blonde L.A. model-like digital persona that attracted more than one hundred thousand Instagram followers. On the @amaliaulman account, Ulman shaped an artificial world of an alluring social media celebrity where she was posting photos of herself by taking selfies in luxury hotels, trying expensive clothes on and posing in posh settings. Her story was based on three online characters through which her story would become more eye-catching; cute girl, sugar baby and life goddess; Besides some ordinary girly pictures, other more provocative posts would follow showing not only how she transformed from a cute girl into a sugar baby escort, but also that she was herself pregnant by featuring her growing boobs on posts.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
In addition, she didn’t hesitate to ask her followers to wish her good luck for a boost augmentation plastic surgery she was about to have. Her committed followers didn’t know it was about a fantasy lifestyle, while everything was part of a pre-fixed story which evolved into an art project titled “Excellences & Perfections”. In less than a year, having posted 186 pictures, Ulman ended this Instagram activity, unveiling in The Telegraph that she made up this idea for which she dyed her hair blond, changed her wardrobe and pretending to be someone else. But why?
Hadn’t someone known Ulman’s project in advance, an ordinary instagrammer would be easily trapped in her account showing some half naked posts of a hot girl’s body. Ulman’s statement behind this story aimed to highlight that “femininity is a construction and not something biological or inherent to any woman”. Although, social media apps such as Instagram can be platforms ‘where you can be yourself‘, Ulman believes that these places favour people to create illusive posts inspired by fantastic images.
Regardless if her followers were disappointed at the end, the art world welcomed the artist for her ability to create such a digital art piece. Since then, she has been invited to participate in some of the most prestigious art museums and galleries around the world in Berlin, Los Angeles, London and Paris. Images from Excellences and Perfections project showcased at the Whitechapel Gallery in London as well as at Tate Modern.
Lately, Bod, the pigeon, is her focus when uploading pictures on Instagram. Ulman admits her dislike for birds, nevertheless she always tries to create art from objects and ideas she doesn’t really like. In an upcoming show in Paris she will use Bod as the main theme for her exhibition showing how a bird she dislikes can be converted into an art object. Currently, in Arcadia Missa in London, Ulman presents Labour Dance which is about an online viral trend on YouTube where pregnant women record themselves dancing to induce labour. The installation also features red balloons that are reminiscent to the female body during pregnancy. Ulman likes to comment on the women’s desire to have a child as well as also on the social barriers that discourage them from getting pregnant because of work or traveling.
Labour Dance @arcadiamissa