Los Angeles based artist, Amalia Ulman, spent a good part of the past year creating a woman who does not exist, in order to better understand contemporary ideas about self-promotion and the idea of the ‘middlebrow’.
Amalia spent months researching popular women on Tumblr and Instagram, and mirrored their storylines told through their images within her own posts. She also replicated their selfie poses and the objects they surround themselves with. By posting images with trending hashtags and recreating other popular posts she managed to gain around 70,000 followers in just over a year.
The story she followed went something like this:
The provincial girl moves to the big city, wants to be a model, wants money, splits up with her high-school boyfriend, wants to change her lifestyle, enjoys singledom, runs out of money because she doesn’t have a job, because she is too self-absorbed in her narcissism, she starts going on seeking-arrangement dates, gets a sugar daddy, gets depressed, starts doing more drugs, gets a boob job because her sugar daddy makes her feel insecure about her body, and also he pays for it, she goes through a breakdown, redemption takes place, the crazy bitch apologizes, the dumb blonde turns brunette and goes back home. Probably goes to rehab, then she is grounded at her family house.
Ulman went so far as to get breast implants as part of her project. The artist says that she is fascinated by body modification and frequently has nonsurgical procedures to alter her face.
Ulman is fascinated with the commodification of culture and how this represents contemporary lifestyles and attitudes. She believes that by observing what we surround ourselves with and promote is a better way of understanding people than actually speaking to them.