Amalia Ulman

Bio

‘Amalia Ulman (born 1989) is an Argentinian-born Spanish-raised (Los Angeles based) artist, whose practice includes performance, installation, video and net-art works. Her work deals with issues of class, gender and sexuality’ – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amalia_Ulman

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My Initial Response

When first hearing about this piece I wasn’t entirely blown away, it seemed like another ‘internet famous’ person using their social media page to present their wealth and lifestyle classing it as photography and themselves as a photographer – which to me is utterly absurd.

However, after very little research it became clear that Ulman is a serious photographer using modern day networking to project ideas about pop culture – internet celebrities, the ‘perfect’ life, identity, what is real/fake amongst many other things.

I like that she chose to present her work on the very network which is key to projecting these themes in a less critical and questionable manner – however, she is presenting her work to criticise and question these very themes. Instagram is one of the most commonly used social media platforms, on the same level of Facebook and Twitter which means that her work could be easily accessed and potentially her message could go viral.

Using Instagram she posted “Part I”, in black letters against white, accompanied by an enigmatic caption that read “Excellences & Perfections”. From there she posted several selfies in an almost naracassistic manner as though she was trying to become the new ‘It girl’ of LA (Los Angeles) she received a lot of abuse, and people genuinely believed that their beloved photographer had turned to the dark side of the internet – alongside those such as the Kardashians.

After a short while, Ulman created different ‘chapters’ in which she presented different stereotypes in which females tend to follow when presenting themselves online – luxurious sugar baby, ‘ghetto aesthetic’ and inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog Goop: “Kind of girl next door”.  To bring the series to an end Ulman posted a black and white image of a rose titled ‘The End’.

Some may say that her work is similar to those of Richard Prince, however I argue that Ulman only used images of herself to raise questions about current pop culture and stereotypes, however Prince used other peoples images for reasons I still do not fully understand.

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How Ulman Used Social Media Platforms And For What Purposes:

How:

  • Ulman used Instagram to present her work

Purpose:

  • To raise questions about stereotypes, gender and identity
  • To show through performance how easy it is to make your life (a lie in this case) seem believable online
  • To raise questions about what is real and what is fake
  • ‘I wanted to prove that femininity is a construction, and not something biological or inherent to any woman. Women understood the performance much faster than men. They were like, ‘We get it – and it’s very funny.” – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/photography/what-to-see/is-this-the-first-instagram-masterpiece/

Sources:

Wikipedia. (2017). Amalia Ulman. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amalia_Ulman. Last accessed 6th March 2017.

Amalia Ulman. (Unknown). Amalia Ulman. Available: https://www.instagram.com/amaliaulman/?hl=en. Last accessed 6th March 2017.

Alastair Sooke. (2016). Is this the first Instagram masterpiece?. Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/photography/what-to-see/is-this-the-first-instagram-masterpiece/. Last accessed 6th March 2017.

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