Cheap? Insulting? No, it's viral art
Sunday 30 April 2006
Doctored photographs of world leaders and celebrities, often derided as cyberjunk, will grace the walls of the ICA, in the Mall in London, from tomorrow. Among the exhibits are portrayals of Kate Moss and Pete Doherty as the moors murderers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, and the Duchess of Cornwall as a horse.
Most virals - not to be confused with computer viruses - are simply still images or short films made to entertain and amuse bored office workers. They are usually created anonymously but often end up with audiences of millions when circulated by email.
Yet the ICA believes they offer a commentary on modern life and have become a cultural and social phenomenon. Art critics, though, have poured scorn on the ICA exhibition.
Brian Sewell, the commentator and broadcaster, yesterday said they were a waste of time and "not worth bothering with". "Frankly, I don't see what this has got to do with art. The ICA just doesn't know where to draw the line. It's all best ignored," said Mr Sewell. "This kind of thing really has no intellectual foundation. It's feeble rubbish. It makes me wonder why this place is given money."
Others wondered why people would go to a gallery to view things that drop into their inboxes every day.
But Ekow Eshun, artistic director of the ICA, defended the decision to mount the exhibition, which is being staged in conjunction with Channel 4.
"Technology has had a democratising effect. It now offers ordinary people the chance to react instantly to, and comment on, events," he said. "It is a fascinating phenomenon. And it is important for us to hold on to this moment and frame it. We have provided a snapshot of the current state of this art form."
The exhibition will reveal the people behind some of the most popular and controversial virals. Other images to be displayed include one of Christ with an Ikea DIY crucifixion kit and a picture of George W Bush handing guns to Palestinian and Israeli leaders. "This is a form of satire and a part of modern culture - a way of looking at the world around us," Mr Eshun added.
But a former artistic director of the ICA, Ivan Massow, suggested that, while virals were interesting, their time as a vehicle for satirical comment may already have passed. Multinational corporations had cottoned on to the power of the viral email and were creating their own to market products.
"The phenomenon is interesting, but it has already become very commercial," Mr Massow said. "There is a brief period when these things are inventive, but soon companies and advertising agencies are looking at how to jump on."
More scathing of the ICA was Charles Thomson, of the Stuckist movement that champions painting as an artistic medium. "They might as well be called the Institute of Contemporary Jokes," he said.
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Ottawa shooting: Canadian soldier dies after being shot at National War Memorial – with one gunman killed inside parliament
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Diwali 2014: What is the festival of lights and how is it celebrated around the world?
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: The Job:TEACHERS REQUIREDWe are...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are currently...
£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Special Needs Teaching Assistant ...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is urgently recruiting...