All of Your Favorite Memes Are About to Be Recognized as the Works of Art They Truly Are in the First-Ever Memennial
Nov 11, 2020
Add another exhibition to your ever-expanding list of biennials and triennials to see in 2021.
Now you can tack onto your itinerary Memennial 2020: a Biennial 4 Memes, which will debut in three cities worldwide in December and pay tribute to the phenomenon that has given us doge, ceiling cat, and overly attached girlfriend.
But the show isn’t just about LOL memes, per the press release’s ambitious opening lines: “Memes move elections / Memes move revolutions / Memes move consciousness / Memes move laughter out of our dark cavernous guts.” And not only that. According to the release, memes “create society.”
Mirroring their near-instantaneous global spread, the show will take place simultaneously in Seattle, Dallas, and Sydney in the form of meme screenings-cum-dance parties paired with shows of physical artworks, as well as, of course, online exhibits.
The show was conceived by Dallas artist Anam Bahlam and will be curated by Soomi Han, who earned a BFA at Dallas’s Southern Methodist University this year. Bahlam invited Han to participate after seeing her “Me² Meme Art Exhibition” at SMU.
“A meme makes you laugh and gives you breath and gives you life,” Bahlam told Artnet News by phone. “Memes are free and authorless and make me think about society a little differently. So I wanted to honor these aesthetic creators.”
Confirmed artist participants so far include Sylv Martinez, Hannah Epstein, Rowen Foster, and Culture Hole TV. Some of the memesters include Joelle Bouchard (aka namaste.at.home.dad), Jónó Mí ló, and Sad African Queen.
What’s more, through November 22, you can submit your own memes to the show. And, if you’re an analyst of the phenomenon, you can also submit your insightful commentary.
For those not up on these things, English evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term meme in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene to introduce evolutionary principles to the analysis of the dissemination of cultural phenomena.
The term is a shortened version of the ancient Greek “mimeme,” or imitated thing, and rhymes with cream. (It is not pronounced may-may or any other way.) It has become widely used to refer to catchy, ironic text-and-image combinations that spread virally online (to Dawkins’s dismay).