"Excellences and Perfections" Favorite 



Jul 1 2014


The United States

A young and beautiful girl posted a piece of paper selfie every day on Instagram, the most popular social network at the moment. In just over 4 months, with 184 selfies, her fans quickly rose to 90,000. In the photo, she is sometimes sweet and lovely, sometimes sexy and attractive, and sometimes turned into a healthy and positive "organic girl"... Now there are nearly 150,000 people around the world who follow her every day. In fact, these photos are fake. The self-portrait girl is an artist named Amalia Ulman. This is a performance art she started in 2014. In order to take these "net celebrity photos", she carefully studied the kind of photos that celebrities like to post, analyzed the image of people on the Internet, and then went to the hotel every day to open rooms, styling, and taking a selfie of herself.

In 2014, Ulman started "Excellences & Perfections", a four-month performance on her Instagram account. Through her posts, Ulman fabricated a fictional character whose story unfolded in three different episodes presenting her acting as three different personas: a 'cute girl', then a 'sugar babe' and finally a 'life goddess'. "The idea was to bring fiction to a platform that has been designed for supposedly "authentic" behavior, interactions and content. The intention was to prove how easy an audience can be manipulated through the use of mainstream archetypes and characters they've seen before." Ulman's Instagram selfies were mainly taken sneaking into hotels and restaurants in Los Angeles and posted as if they documented her real life.

Ulman’s exhibition "Excellences and Perfections," throughout the process was met with dissatisfied feedback. Ulman's exhibition which was meant to show the presence of gender and sex politics on social media, caused outcries with many critics saying that Ulman was throwing her career away. It was not until after the exhibition was over, signaled with an Instagram post of a black and white image of a rose captioned "the end," that Ulman began receiving positive feedback on her work in this exhibition. Excellences and Perfections was later chosen to be a part of the Electronic Superhighway Exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery in 2016.

Through this "scam", she wants to tell everyone not to be superstitious about the image of the Internet celebrity. The seemingly random selfies are actually very "scheming". The shapes, angles, scenery and filters are all carefully designed, and many people are alive. It’s in the selfie.

Posted by Yifei Zhao on

Staff rating: