If you’re somehow involved with art, this must have happened to you. You’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, and badly-shot images of worthless things appear at regular intervals, and eyerolls abound. The originator of such visual gibberish is usually a white, straight, mildly successful artist, whose work you’d qualify as mediocre at best. He attends the residencies you didn’t get into, participates in group shows in trendy galleries, and possesses the crucial ability to consume large amounts of hard drugs with a rakish type of nonchalance. If you’re a young woman, his success might be hard to stomach — and even harder to replicate. If you aren’t dead or senile yet, allowing your work to be pigeonholed into the contextual lanes of second wave feminism or feeble mental health, forget about it. If you’re a person of color, your chances are even more meagre, unless your work references traditional African fabrics or shamanism. And if you happen to be a woman of color: even being dead, senile and interested in African textiles somehow all at once probably won’t be enough to allow you to get a seat at the table with your mediocre male contemporaries.
However, as we’ve learned from the latest elections all over the Western hemisphere, you can always lie or cheat to attain your goals. Plus, with self-representation increasingly taking place on digital platforms, maintaining a public persona is much easier than it used to be. SLEEK has compiled a short guide on how to use Instagram like a moderately-acknowledged white male artist on Instagram. All it takes is a smeared lens, an Adidas tracksuit and a bit of practice. Follow our advice, and you too could get a DM from that guy who runs an off-space in Warsaw and pretends to never remember you when you bump into him!
Useless Things You See On The Street
Few visuals will as efficiently communicate both a general disdain for and a keen sensitivity to your surroundings as random things lying on the pavement. To credibly pass as some guy who studied at Städelschule but was already in multiple group shows before graduation, look for either truly random objects (a toothbrush, a coin, a chewing-gum) or downright gross shit (a pigeon with its viscera out, dirty underwear, puke). Take a bad picture of it, caption that with a single hashtag that has no explicable link whatsoever to the image itself (#kindergarten), and voila! People won’t believe your nearly Sartrean propensity to convey the depressingly absurd alienation of contemporary life!
Late Night Shots Of You With Someone Relevant
As a member of the emerging artistic aristocracy, rubbing shoulders with various important gallerists, advisors and collectors should come naturally to you. Who wouldn’t want to spend their downtime mingling with dudes who make millions convincing impressionable people to buy monochrome paintings, lol?! A photo of you with someone douchey and rich taken with a flash at 5am after a night of partying will convince others that yours is a bromance for the ages. However, it is of the utmost importance that your buddy is a man. In order to post like a mildly successful white male artist, we must learn to think like one. Nobody will believe that a woman who makes, sells or exhibits art has done so without the help of a father / husband / mentor. Find this mysterious source of patriarchal guidance, and take a photo with him instead.
Food That Looks Like It Came Straight From Hell
The MWMA (as he will be referred to from now on) participates in the annoying trend of sharing pictures of food on Instagram — but in his own meta-ironic way. Inevitably, any dishes he posts will look like they were just shat on the table by the Devil himself. Making a fresh seafood platter look like the result of a dumpster dive at TripAdvisor’s most poorly-rated restaurant demands practice and skill, so be patient. Start with dishes that are obviously unappealing (a winning combo: beige foods + tupperware), and slowly move towards foods which would usually make one salivate, but with your own disgusting twist (an artfully prepared sashimi platter “inadvertently” dusted with some cigarette ash, for example). However, beware of posting something too healthy (unless your goal consists of making fun of vegans) as it might blow your cover. For example, don’t post salad. Real men don’t eat salad. In the eyes of the MWMA, salad is for rabbits, hairdressers and fat women.
A Terribly-Dressed Selfie
Rare is the lucky soul immune to the crushing pressure of digital vanity. As someone who is probably under 35 and deemed fuckable by a healthy portion of the art world, the hip artist you’re pretending to be should probably post a selfie from time-to-time. As with most if your posts, though, it should be covered in a thick crust of detached irony. The trick is simple: find the most ridiculous items of ’90s clothing your mother didn’t throw away yet, wear them in front of a dirty, semi-reflective surface, and rid your face of all emotion. Then, stand far enough away from said surface that the image becomes blurry. Make sure there’s too much, not enough, or somehow terrible light, and take the pic. We strongly advise you to include a remarkably ill-fitting hat, some child-size sunglasses, and if possible, a light moustache for maximum authenticity.
Images From Your Studio, But Not To Promote Your Art
Studio shots have two critical advantages for the MWMA. One: they prove he indeed is an artist. Two: they give him the opportunity to wear dirty, blue-collar clothing, and hide the fact his natural environment is actually a villa on the shores of Lake Constance, not an unheated basement in Schöneweide. The studio shot is an ideal opportunity to stage yourself. But don’t fall into the trap of objectively promoting your artistic practice! You have a gallerist, influential friends and a connection at Contemporary Art Daily for that. A detail from a new painting in the background is OK, but what counts is the mess in front of it. Being messy shows you’re not some petit-bourgeois housewife, burdened with the weight of a numb and meaningless existence. Bonus points if you include a lanky friend in equally dirty clothes and a plethora of beer bottles in the shot.
Bonus “What Not to Post” Suggestion: Anything Political
More than a direct example of an Insta-worthy situation, this one’s a general tip to stay true to your MWMA corporate identity. If you have a soft spot for any political causes, keep it to yourself. If you really feel compelled to engage with rampant injustices of the world, do it discretely in your art. But do not entertain the tasteless idea of voicing any sort of political statement on social media! While theoretically laudable, trying to be “woke” is annoying at best, worthless at worst, and mostly the territory of what you’re not: women and minorities. The only commitment to which you should be attached is… well, you’re actually unattached to most things. Your art might be sort of important from time to time, but politics? Come on. Let’s be clear: it’s not that the MWMA doesn’t care— he surely does, because one needs to understand at least some of the discourse taking place in the US if one ever wants to have a show there. But who’s got the time when you can also smoke weed and watch reruns of “Battlestar Galactica” on that fucked-up couch in your studio?