Deborah Schamoni

Mauerkircherstr. 186

D-81925 München

Wednesday – Friday 12 – 6 pm

Saturday 12 – 4 pm and by appointment

Amalia UlmanPrivilege


01.01.15 – 01.01.16

  • Abandoning the dubiously-fictional for the hyperreal, Amalia Ulman’s online performance Privilege (2015-2016) saw the Spanish/Argentinian artist absorb the cultural climate of the world during that time period, and promptly spew it back out in a concentrated form on social media, enacted through an exaggerated, almost caricatured version of herself, executed primarily in a corporate office setting. 

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    Central to the performance and functioning as a sort of temporal backdrop to Privilege was the artist’s own performative pregnancy. Recalling her first Instagram performance Excellences & Perfections (2014), there was no allusion to the fictitious nature of Ulman’s pregnancy, only well-crafted visual evidence suggesting its legitimacy, accompanied by the culturally-ingrained notion that a pregnancy in your late 20’s is bussines as usual. Heralded by an image of the artist holding a positive pregnancy test up towards the cloudy sky-tiled ceiling of her office, a visible baby-bump soon appeared in her continuous self-portraiture, which in turn became a late gestation mound as the performance reached its later stages.

    While Ulman’s "pregnancy" developed on her feed, the artist ceaselessly created a slew of other visual materials reflecting developments in memetic culture as well as the global happenings of the time, a period that was notably punctuated by the 2016 U.S. presidential election and its nightmarish conclusion. Ulman’s approach to the images and videos she constructed was one that abandoned divisions in culture commonly associated with class and taste through the sheer heterogeneity of the content produced. A Vine-style video of the artist performing 2016 hip-hop dance sensation “Juju On That Beat” was accompanied by an array of New Yorker-style cartoons, placed next to self-portraits of the artist in the style of Google Medical Illustrations, surrounded in turn by memes in the iconic “Top text + Bottom Text + Image” format.

    Though Ulman’s approaches were disparate enough to feel like a dozen Instagram feeds interwoven together, her visual materials were scrupulously connected by guiding through lines. The drudge of conservative office culture served as a backdrop, though its flatness was suddenly torn down by the introduction of an enigmatic pigeon named “Bob”, who veered between real animal and plastic prop, hobby and obsession of the artist, and between performance companion and sidekick to the de-facto protagonist. While the enigma of Bob developed, other visual motifs remained constant: red balloons, escalators, Mary Jane shoes, cloudy blue skies, elevators, elegant stationary, DTLA, paperclips and airports; extensions of the artist’s own taste and interests pushed to fantastical extremes.

    Text: Amalia Ulman
    Photos: Amalia Ulman