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Perspectives on the Post-Postmodern: Memes as Political Art – Capilano Courier

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Tamia Thompson // Columnist 

Despite being the most digestible way to consume information at the moment, memes take up a lot of space in our minds and daily interactions in 2020. Sometimes they just seem to exist in a humorous vacuum, but they are quite possibly the central force in post-postmodern art circulating political ideologies. 

Collectively, all of the people using social media globally (including yourself) at any minute are contributing to the transference of over 41 million messages. Think about how many times you’ve seen a meme remade to change the message being given, like the “Change My Mind” meme that was originally a photo of a right-wing conservative podcaster. Now, think about how many TikTok videos you’ve seen where catchy music plays as a stranger tells you about political affairs? It can get confusing when we try to make sense of our screen time, but memes are impactful in how we have come to mock or react to ourselves and the powers that be. Diving into how we can expand our knowledge with memes, or the reiterated and relatable ideas we share with each other, can be a powerful catalyst for learning more about the world around us.

Digital culture and online communities have been churning out political art for the past decade. The expansion of online interfaces, from computers to phones, have enabled better content creation. I always have a difficult time trying to grapple with the fact that through all that we choose to virtually send and share, we leave little imprints everywhere we scroll when we remix and remake existing words and images to suit ourselves. In the creation and reiteration of memes, we often forget how their contexts can be morphed away from our intentions. 

When people around the web talk about instances of digital blackface or the idea that there’s a broad and nonsensical appropriation of language happening with African American Vernacular English, for example, we see red flags thrown to investigate our behaviour in consuming all of the remixed content that we do. It’s beginning to ring truer every day that people don’t really think outside of themselves and their screens when they log on. The cloud, the void, or whatever you call what we often think to be a collective imaginary space holding our data ultimately acts as a vast echo chamber for our good, bad, and ugly thoughts.

The range that we’ve seen in political memes has brought on the notion that there are issues that are not meant to be made into jokes or memes at all. We’ve seen COVID-19, Indigenous land rights protests, and the Black Lives Matter protests all this past year. We are being consistently reintroduced to the idea that the oppression people face, the destruction of communities, and the coalition found in hardship are not meant to be trivialized for virality. So where do we draw the line between memes and political art in a helpful sense? 

In order to employ respect in the dispersal of information that we push out and take in daily, it’s important to know where our intentions lie as well as where our impacts land. And in order to do that, we all need to take a look at our own relationships with the series of life-changing protests, demonstrations, and calls for effective human rights implementations that have transpired this past year and throughout history. Reflecting on the trivialization of Breonna Taylor’s murder, the greater response has been to denounce the disrespectful memes that commodify her name and death in half-hearted calls for justice. From BreonnaCon to the liberal notions of reform that have been watering down calls for police and prison abolition, it is unfortunate to say that virtue signals and effective activism are getting mixed up. As we reckon with injustice after injustice, we must recognize that there is no time or place to seek personal gain from the hardships endured by the marginalized. Seeking justice does not equate to seeking virality. 

Contrasting much of the concrete work we acknowledge to be historic acts of protest such as sit-ins and rallies, is a unique moment for the Internet in the present. You don’t need to look far into your phone to see that people across the world are creating their own easily-consumable, pastel infographics for the purpose of dispersing information and encouraging political engagement. From accessible reading lists to bail fund websites, there’s been a drastic shift in the way social media users make and interact with political content. This is especially visible in the conversations we’re having right now about land rights, voting, race, citizenship, and tragedy. Giving empathy to our neighbours and the activists doing groundwork begins with listening before we output and regurgitate anything at all. Political progression through art and media begins with holding space for those experiencing the issues we’re fighting against and centering their needs.
In Canada, politics and policy have both inspired and been causation for the amplification of memes as a form of art. The anthropocene, for Canada in particular, is something we can’t reflect on without understanding what exactly it is: our current era and the consequences we’re now seeing of the human impression on Earth. The images, words, and videos we see now are increasingly reflective of that, whether they be a humorous meme pointing nihilistically at the end of the world or an Instagram post with 10 slides addressing . Hell, Canadians have been creating tons of memes for years that boost our opinions about climate justice while demonstrating just how divided our political landscape really is. Now, we must continue to call into question our own sense of belonging here through the content we create for ourselves as Canadians. this nation’s participation in the devastating effects of climate change. Hell, Canadians have been creating tons of memes for years that boost our opinions about climate justice while demonstrating just how divided our political landscape really is. Now, we must continue to call into question our own sense of belonging here through the content we create for ourselves as Canadians.

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Submissions accepted for Anonymous Art Show – Abbotsford News

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The Abbotsford Arts Council is now accepting applications for its sixth annual Anonymous Art Show fundraiser.

The show runs as a digital exhibition from Nov. 1 to 30 at abbotsfordartscouncil.com, and artists can apply until Oct. 10.

The show enables the community to support emerging artists and gives the buyer an opportunity to take home an artist’s original work at an affordable price.

The Anonymous Art Show features art that is submitted anonymously by members of the community of all ages and skill levels to be featured and sold in a lightly juried exhibition.

RELATED: Artists invited to submit proposals for ‘Unprecedented Times’ project

Each piece displayed in the show is on a 12” x 12” x 1.5” canvas and is sold for $100. Half the proceeds go to the artist, and the other half stays with the Abbotsford Arts Council.

When a piece is purchased, the work will be marked as sold and the artist’s name revealed. The Abbotsford Arts Council will announce each participating artist on Instagram @abbotsfordartscouncil as their work is sold.

The proceeds help fund programs such as free community events, exhibition space, arts initiatives and more.

Artists may submit their application online at abbotsfordartscouncil.com until Oct. 10, and the completed works must be delivered to the Kariton Art Gallery (2387 Ware St.) on Oct. 10 from noon to 4 p.m. or by pre-arranged appointment.

The House of Fine Art (2485 West Railway St.) will include a $5 coupon (to be used toward a future purchase) with the purchase of the required pre-stretched canvas.

Visit the arts council’s website or email gallerycoordinator@abbotsfordartscouncil.com for more information.

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SC Rewind: The 1971 Art Derby – Standardbred Canada

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Published: September 26, 2020 11:35 am ET

In the current edition of Rewind Robert Smith recalls a rather novel promotion from 50 years ago that was spearheaded by Bill Galvin, longtime Publicity official of the Ontario Jockey Club. It was a pretty ingenious endeavor that attracted the attention of a huge number of participants.

Fifty years ago The Ontario Jockey Club was a very well organized and successful entity. Their tracks were state of the art (two of the three fairly recently completed) and the on-track product rivalled any jurisdiction then in existence. The O.J.C. Publicity department was a very active segment of the operation and did a first-class job of promoting current and future events and happenings. They also were always eager to seek out new fans, even the youngsters, many of whom attended the races with their parents.

In 1971 under the guidance of Bill Galvin, future Hall of Fame writer and communicator, the Publicity folks repeated an exciting promotion called Art Derby For Kids. Previous competitions had been based on poetry, this one on art. The subject of the latest Art Derby was a Standardbred mare named Superior Princess and her young daughter Hieland Barbara. Both of these fine-looking animals were owned by Mrs. Edith Hie of Cobourg, Ont. It was through the generosity of Mrs. Hie and her husband Cliff that these two were “loaned” to Bill Galvin for this interesting event.

In order to be eligible for the 1971 Art Derby the child had to be 12 years or younger by October 15, which was the closing date for the competition. The task at hand was for the child to submit a creative drawing of Superior Princess and her daughter. It was to be drawn on any size piece of paper up to 20 x 24 inches using any type of pen or pencil. Included in the permissible tools were watercolours, magic markers, poster colors and acrylics. Oils were not acceptable. An entrant who met the age qualifications could submit as many drawings as they wished.

Children who wished to get a close-up view of Superior Princess and her cute little foal were advised to tune in to the Uncle Bobby Show, a long-running children’s program of that time. This popular educational show was then in its eighth year and aired daily except Sunday on Toronto’s CFTO which was Channel 9. For those not in the Toronto viewing area there were six other locations with varying dates throughout August and early September to choose from. So wide was the viewing area that it included the cities of Windsor, Edmonton, Calgary, Halifax, Regina and even St. John’s, Nfld.


Owner Cliff Hie holds broodmare Superior Princess while her foal is attended to by a visitor on the Uncle Bobby Show. A TV cameraman catches all of the action. That’s “Uncle Bobby” with the striped trousers. (Courtesy of Bill Galvin)

Two judges were selected to oversee the Canada-wide competition. Mrs. Kay Boa, Head of the Art Dept. at Ridley College in St. Catherines, and Barry MacKay, a bird artist and naturalist were chosen. Mr. MacKay was a regular guest on the Uncle Bobby Show.

The grand prize for winning the 1971 Art Derby was a fully paid trip to the fabulous new Disney World in Orlando, Florida via Eastern Air Lines. The first prize also included the teacher of the winner who would accompany the child. This was a major prize as Disney World had just opened at this time and very few people had visited there.

AND THE WINNER IS…

In October of 1971 the winner of the contest was announced. That lucky person was 11-year-old Kim Thoms, daughter of Wm. and Ann Thoms, and a student at Beverly Acres School in Richmond Hill, Ont. A horse lover, Kim created her prize-winning art during her spare time at school. The judges commented that Kim’s art was an excellent piece which went beyond the horse and it was obvious that she put a great deal of effort into her work.

Taking second prize of $50 was Teri Lynn Maxwell of Scarborough, Ont. with third going to Melanie LeMarchant of Cobourg, Ont. who received $25. Jackie Cameron of Amherst, N.S. and Heather Fisher of Morinville, Alta. both received honourable mention.

Three Derbies were held in the years 1969, 1970 and 1971 all with similar formats. They reached huge audiences through newspapers, magazines including extensive front-page coverage in the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper. The total media coverage for the three Derbies was 9,236,400. It was estimated that this year’s event attracted 300,000 viewers on the TV programs when the mare and foal were guests.

Bill put on a lot of “neat” promotions and special events back in the day. He staged donkey races, arranged for Santa Claus to land in the centrefield, put on sleigh rides for kids, held Christmas dinners for the horsemen and that’s just a small sampling of his many endeavors.

Quote For The Week: “A smile can start a conversation without saying a word.”

Who Is It?

Around the same time as the contest described in today’s Rewind (within a year or two) another version of the Art Derby was held. Can you name the three people in the above photo as they appear in the TV studio with that year’s “celebrities”. Second from left is the TV show host Uncle Bobby. (Courtesy of Bill Galvin)

Where Was It?

Can you identify where this famous photo was taken? Now how about naming the winning horse and driver and what event was taking place. That’s a lot but I’ll bet our experts will come up with it. (Hoof Beats Photo)

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Black Lives Matter street art installations coming to Dartmouth, Halifax – CBC.ca

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The Halifax Regional Municipality will be painting the words “Black Lives Matter” in Halifax and Dartmouth this weekend.

The municipality said it was doing it to show support for the movement.

“This public solidarity augments several measures being taken by the municipality corporately to help address anti-Black racism and continue to build [a] better relationship with the municipality’s communities of African descent,” the municipality said in a news release on Friday.

Work on the first installation at Alderney Drive in Dartmouth will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Work on the second installation at Brunswick Street in Halifax will begin at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

The municipality said sidewalks will be open and access to businesses will be maintained and that at least one lane of vehicle traffic in each direction will be maintained while work is underway.

The bicycle lane on Brunswick Street will be closed while work is happening and cyclists and vehicles will share one single file lane around the work area.

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