The Truth Behind The 'Celeb' Instagram Account on Display At The Tate

Apparently it's all a comment on modern day narcissism...

Instagram 3.jpg

Apparently it's all a comment on modern day narcissism...

Attention everyone, the Performing For The Camera exhibition is now at the Tate Modern, and you’re not going to want to miss it. The gallery is showcasing work by none other than Amalia Ulman: Instagram celebrity and young contemporary art sensation.

You may recognise her name or even be one of her 100k+ Instagram followers worshiping her every move. But if that’s the case, we’re sorry to break it to you - turns out, her account is a hoax and you have just fallen for a very elaborate (and very 21st century) digital art experiment. Confused? Let us explain… In April 2014, young artist Amalia came up with an idea for a large-scale digital art project to comment on the state of current society. Through ‘Excellences & Perfections’ Amalia focused on how women present themselves online and highlighted the narcissism of social media, creating a stereotypical Instagram persona and posting photographs on the app in character for the next 5 months.

The character that she adopted was an LA It girl, raking in almost 90,000 followers in just five months. She filled her newsfeed with overly-posed heavily-edited snaps, mimicking the clichéd wording of a social media sensation and documenting the public reaction. To the naked eye, Amalia was another rich trendsetting socialite taking ‘candid’ snaps of her ‘perfect’ life but in reality, the London-based artist had planned the project from beginning to end, even dying her hair and changing her wardrobe in preparation. The sepia filtered pictures of her coffee and black and white snaps of her in luxury bathrobes were all for show, which as Ulman's project shows us is what Instagram is all about: showing off.

Furthering her project, Amalia incorporated two other stereotypical Instagram personas: the bad girl and the yoga goddess, making her character transition through the different roles.

The project opens with Amalia as a young doe-eyed LA It girl: an American ‘Zoella’ if you will, posting posed photos of stencilled lattes, pastel clothing and bathrobe selfies. Her character then transitions to ‘bad girl’, developing a bit of edge and adopting a no fucks attitude, rivalling Miley and Rihanna. Her photos get a lot darker, uploading half naked selfies and using a more sombre filter (our guess is Lo-Fi or Brannan). She even pushes her character to the brink, turning to cocaine and documenting an ‘alleged’ boob job.

After her character has a breakdown and goes to rehab (yes we told you she had planned every detail), Amalia transitions into her third and final phase: the yoga goddess. Adopting a Gwyneth Paltrow-esque persona, her character becomes a devotee to cleansing, posting filtered snaps of avocado on toast, juices and yoga poses.

Amalia’s tongue in cheek social media artwork has received an overwhelming response, making her an overnight artist to watch. Her work is not only original and witty but also incredibly relevant. In a technological world where too much power is put in the ‘like’ button and too much time put in our online profiles, it is important to step back and appreciate as Amalia shows us that social media is not real and that there is much more to life.

The exhibition will be at the Tate Modern until 12 June featuring work from Martin Par, Romain Made and also Masahisa Fukase - see you there.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.