The Internet and social media have allowed a new generation of women artists to make their voices heard. Newspapers and magazines call them Tumblr stars, Instagram artists, or webcam princesses, while the net artists describe themselves as “reality artists” (Signe Pierce), “Instagram models” (Leah Schrager), or “online exhibitionists” (Molly Soda). They use smartphones, tablets, and computers to share their works and stream them live in social media, where the images and videos frequently become viral and then spread across the Internet. The exhibition entitled Women net artists 2.0, at Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig, Germany, explores the possibilities and restrictions of social media. It questions the female beauty ideals and gender stereotypes that have become standard in the attention economy of social media.
The artists featured in the exhibition present a female perspective on sexuality, identity, and femininity in the digital age. Their materials are their own bodies, realities, and everyday lives; their stylistic devices are humor, irony, the grotesque, and hyperbole. Here Leah Schrager’s photographs play with the male gaze by ostensibly engaging in the art of seduction. While most contemporary female artists ignore or critique the male gaze, she embraces and explores it through utilizing an open-minded approach to sexuality that fluidly includes its dynamics in her aesthetic investigations. Her visual work involves digitally and materially painting on images of herself, and her conceptual work involves creating and propagating images of herself online in tandem with various “persona” projects. Both practices seek to examine the possibilities of female action and representation in today’s society. She is a proponent of considering the artistic value and merit of selfies, as selfies provide the model full legal and economic control over her images and owned self-explorations offer an empowering alternative to the traditional status of models under “man hands” (men selling women’s images as art).
Virtual Normality: Women Net Artists 2.0
January 12 to April 8, 2018
Museum der bildenden Künste