Self-Representation in the Age of the Internet. Social Media as a New Tool for the Construction of Identity in Contemporary Art

  • Abstract:

    As we were looking on the Instagram profile of Amalia Ulman in 2014, we were able to see depictions of a perfect life, which showed luxury goods, healthy food and optimistic selfies against different backgrounds and situations. In the time she posted these pictures, she had generated a story about a young woman that escaped from a provincial rural life in order to find her fortune in the big city. But the girl’s plan failed and she gave in to an excessive life. Through the use of Yoga, extreme forms of diet and even breast surgery the girl creates a new identity for herself. The idea of the artist was to play with storytelling and social media. So it came that Ulman, between May and August 2014, enacted her own persona and amassed close to 65,000 followers on Instagram. She created a fictional self on Instagram and declared her Instagram identity as a performance entitled “Excellences & Perfections”. In Ulman’s performance, social media is experienced as a new medium in contemporary art and focuses on the self-expression of young girls in the Internet age. The significance of Social Media as an important medium for self-representation in contemporary art becomes even more evident when connected to the work of Ai Weiwei. The publication of his own opinion and interest in social media is reflected in Ai Wei Wei’s work in a form that is not to be stated until now. Through the use of social media, the related disclosure of his privacy and the perfect handling of the expectations of his audience, he constructed his own cult image. This constructed identity is reflected in his very autobiographical related works. In my presentation, I would like to explore how artists make use of social media in their work and how this practices influences the question of self-representation in contemporary art in the internet age.