Not many lols at Lolcats - Teh Exhibishun

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

As the comical internet meme makes a foray into the world of 'serious' art with an exhibition, The Independent's Tom Peck tests his funny bone - with disappointing results

Ears erect, tail curled under its body, the tiny tortoiseshell cat has its back to the viewer. Feline thoughts are heavy on its angled shoulders as it perches upon thin air, high above jagged peaks and an alpine lake. At the lake’s edge, in stencil, run confounded Second World War policemen wearing circular metal hats.

Morphism III - Dumbfounded, by Martin Parris, is the third in his series of three works at Lolcat - Teh Exhibishun, a new art show in London attracting all too predictable attention.

“Can we take the LOLCAT phenomenon and elevate it to the level of art?” Is the question asked on its promotional literature at the Framers Gallery, near Soho. Evidently, you can try.

Click here or on "View Images" for a picture preview of Lolcats - Teh Exhibishun

If you don’t know what a lolcat is, congratulations, but to humanity’s eternal shame it can rightly be described as a phenomenon. Just type the word - a conjoining of lol, online speak for ‘laugh out loud’, and cat - into Google Images, and brace yourself for a tsunami of powerfully weird and dangerously unfunny nonsense.

There are millions of them. The premise is simple. Take a picture of a cat, add what you think the cat is thinking, but spell it like a toddler (cats are thick, after all), then tweet it, post it on Facebook and send it to everyone with whom you’ve ever exchanged an email. “I Can Has Cheezburger” is probably the most famous, the caption written beneath a fat Persian blue grinning apologetically for having seemingly just shat on the rug. Its name was given to a wildly popular blog that would eventually secure its founder a £20m investment.

But is it art? Well no, though Lolcat - Teh Exhibishun, with its 49 works on a theme of Lolcat is giving it a decent go.

A series of cartoons by Anthony Smith succeed where all the unknown billions of actual lolcats fail, in that they are genuinely funny. One, entitled Dameow Hirst, depicts a bespectacled cat, proudly displaying his latest work - a dog, bisected and suspended in formaldehyde.

But alas next to it hangs I Has Found Wormhole! by Alix Lind. Two black outlines sit in adjacent frames. One is a cat from the front, the other a cat from behind. For the artist, and precisely no one else, “This piece pays homage to the extra-terrestrial pursuits of the feline species; specifically their interplanetary mischief and flagrant disregard for the space time continuum.”

Elsewhere in the two room gallery, three large photographs of cute tabbies lovingly anthropomorphised in apricot knitwear are on sale for £210 each, or, unframed for £15, which may shed a little light on their artistic merit.

“It started with my daily twitter interactions with my friends, everyone always sending lolcats to each other” admits Jenny Theolin, the Swedish curator for whom Lolcats - Teh Exhibishun is the culmination of nine months work. “Once, I challenged my friend Francis to send me one lolcat an hour for a whole working day. He did it! Eventually I started a blog called lolcatalogue, and then via twitter I asked if anyone would want to do a physical exhibition of lolcats, and it went from there.”

Cats have long beguiled intellectuals. T.S. Eliot rather tragically expended a sizeable proportion of his most productive years writing poems about them, which in an Oppenheimer-esque fable came to be misappropriated by Andrew Lloyd Webber and debased to form the musical Cats. Ms Theolin suffers the same inexplicably common enchantment, which she thinks explains the overwhelming march of the lolcat.

“It's their intellect. They have so many hidden layers," she claims. "Just today i was sent a video of a dog barking at a cat, and when the dog turns round, the cat starts miaowing. How can you imagine what the cat is thinking there?" She is not finished. "What lolcats do, is they get people to communicate in a completely different space online. There is just so much to cats, their personality, and things you can play on. It evokes more creativity than loldogs or lolgoats could ever do.”

Within a day of the exhibit opening earlier this week, 12 of the 49 had already been sold. Manuel Archain’s,The Smallest Cat In The World - a photograph of an adorable little kitten sat in the shadow of giant mugs, pencils and other paraphernalia, and made to look the size of a bit of belly button fluff is available at £2,100. It’s partner, The Biggest Cat In The World, is slightly cheaper, and shows a smoky grey feline deity nestled in green mountains towering over an Eastern Temple.

For those with weightier matters on their minds, Lizzie Mary Cullen’s £450 watercolour, Murdoch Cat, recasts Rupert Brooks and Rupert Murdoch as frightened little kitties. “I found sumfinc secret. I eated dem,” explains a radiantly ginger moggie to her besptacled overlord, as she sits infront of a box marked ‘Super Duper Secret Docs’. You could call it ‘catire’, but then, it’s hard to believe the whole ridiculous thing isn’t.

Tom Peck's verdict:

Murdoch Cat

Cat Rupert and Cat Rebekahm up to no good. This is the sort of satire that brings down corporations.

Morphism III - Dumbfounded

‘Eventually never comes’ is the conclusion one is meant to draw from this tortoiseshell doing The Snowman over some mountains. Except it does, usually in the form of a vet holding a syringe.

Tranz Cat Flickz Rubber Bandz

Paying homage to Eddie Izzard, a transvestite ginger tabby flicks a rubber band. Our lives are complete.

The Smallest Cat in the World

Look at that little kitty. He could fit in a thimble. Adorable. I want him. Ah, he’s two  grand.


Monorail Cat

The tube map, with lolcats for stops. No Catford? No White Kitty? C+.

Click here for more pictures

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?