The idea of art—to the delight of its creators and frustration of some audience members—is constantly shifting, switching and changing. But if the purpose of art is to beautifully express some human truth, there could be a brand-new medium boldly making its entrance: the meme.
What was once just a quick, visual way to tell a joke on the internet now wants to be counted as an art form, worthy of public display and analysis, according to ka5sh, an Instagram meme-maker with over 19,000 followers, and the curator of an upcoming meme-focused LA art show, By Any Memes Necessary. Sonny Side Up, with a hefty Instagram following of their own, sponsors the show.
What started as a half-joking Facebook post (something to the line of "memes are so good, they should be displayed in a gallery") quickly became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ka5sh has curated a show featuring the work of seven different meme-makers whose work straddles the digital, political, and social climates within contemporary culture.
"I like to think that if you could make irony into a medium and use it like paint, that's what meme-making is," ka5sh tells The Creators Project. "There's artistry."
And like any art movement, ka5sh argues, there are artists who excel at different niches—many of whom he has tried to feature in the show. Gothshakira, for example, was a pioneer of the longform, wordy, socially-analytical meme. Scariest_bug_ever delves into mental health issues with a rarely-seen candor. Sensualmemes approaches the medium with a wry self-awareness, a charactersitc embraced by the art world.
Some memes—specifically the popular "self drag" starter-packs—are, arguably, a 21st-century digital self-portrait. Everything is there, even the signature.
The works will be presented as a physical, Instagram-esque representation, an homage to the social network that gave birth to the form. Each wall will feature a unique artist's featured work, displayed like a profile page.
The work displayed will be a series of memes already premiered online alongside brand-new content. Everything displayed will fall into the overall theme of "using memes to cope with reality," ka5sh explains. Ultimately, if the goal of the meme is to find some catharsis, connection, or escape from the everyday world, the only thing keeping it from lining gallery walls is where they're most often viewed—the phone screen.