Instagram art meme account @ArtReviewPower100:
Dear Mx. @ArtReviewPower100,
Thank you for agreeing to answer some questions! Feel free to skip some questions especially if they seem redundant, that’ll happen with emailed questions.
Thank you so much ahead of time!
Q: Are you a practicing artist?
ARP100: Yes. I have a studio where I make things that aren’t memes.
Q: What made you decide to make your meme page?
ARP100: I started the page during a graduate seminar class about contemporary art way back in 2014. I talked my professor into letting me start this account in place of writing the final term paper. He shot down my first few project ideas but liked this one. He probably also didn’t wanna read any more of my writing. I was one of the few artists in a class full of art history MA and PHD students who were way smarter than me.
Q: How did you come up with the name, @Artreviewpower100?
It’s a parody of that stupid annual list by Art Review magazine.
Q: Who do you think your audience is?
Artists, art students, former art students, people who like art and want to feel like they are getting some inside knowledge. I think out of all the other art meme accounts that have popped up, this account is for the underdogs. The account has a long history of memes about failure, doubt, rejection, and depression. I think there’s something nice about knowing another person is struggling in the same way you are.
Q: What do you think the power of memes are?
ARP100: That’s still unclear. Memes are in their infancy when compared against other histories like painting. Memes are like Facebook in the mid 2000s. To quote The Social Network, “We don’t even know what it is yet, we just know it’s cool.”
Brad Troemel recently made a meme spreading a false rumor about Joe Biden’s heart that went viral, and major news networks were reporting on it thinking it was real. The idea that a meme can stop being a meme and become something different is pretty crazy. If a meme can pass as something else, even if it is just another bit of fake news, what else can it do?
I don’t claim to make memes for any grand purpose however. I just do it because I find it fun, but at times it feels like a bad habit that eats up time and energy from other parts of my life.
Q: ^ That might be a shit question, but you must think a lot about something adjacent to the question. So modify it for your liking. Someone who runs an account with 2,234 posts of mostly 2012 style-Impact font memes has something to say about them.
Q: Are memes art?
ARP100: Who cares. lol.
Q: Are your memes art criticism?
Q: Do you consider yourself to be an art critic?
ARP100: Actually yes. lol. It’s inherently snobby to call yourself a critic of anything, but I think the anonymity and unpretentious meme format might make it okay.
Q: How has @artreviewpower100 changed over the years?
ARP100: The account started as a parody to call attention to the absurdities of the art world and everyone in it. It’s pretty much the same, but I have more enemies now.
Some Artreviewpower100 themes:
Q: You make a lot of memes about painting. Is that your medium? If not, what is it?
ARP100: I love painting and I relate to its history. I consider my work to be painting, but most others probably would not and that’s okay.
Q: Painting is___:
ARP100: Painting is old, expensive, elitist, human, the greatest story ever told.
Q: What, if any, contemporary painters do you like?
ARP100: Wow that feels so personal lol. It’s hard to name anyone without naming everyone. There’s a ton of great painters who follow the account, so that’s been an unexpected way to be introduced to new artists.
Q: Who are some of your favorite artists/works of art? (I’m a big fan of that erased De Kooning myself and goes without saying then that I am also a big Rauschenberg fan. Read the biography, love a good queer love story.)
ARP100: “Painter” by Paul McCarthy is one of my all time favorites. The work of Lee Lozano, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Tino Sehgal also come to mind. I have a soft spot for the 1998 “SOY BOMB” performance by artist Michael Portnoy, in which he disrupted Bob Dylan’s performance at the Grammys. He was hired as a background dancer, then halfway through he takes his shirt off, runs up front next to Dylan and begins a pretty wild interpretive dance with the words “SOY BOMB” painted on his chest. It’s so funny to watch Bob Dylan’s face. There’s an awkward and hilarious contrast between these two performances from opposite cultural spheres happening side by side. It also excites me that some fringe performance artist was able to weasel his way into the mainstream like that.
Q: Did you get an MFA? Was it worth it?
ARP100: I did get an MFA and it was great, but I don’t recommend it unless it’s free or very affordable. I lucked out and got into a program that provided a lot of financial support, plus teaching experience and a stipend. That kind of support is rare, so I recommend finding another (cooler) way to push ahead as an artist.
Q: What do people expect to learn from them?
ARP100: I think people attend MFA programs because they don’t know what else to do. Grad school is validating and comfortable, and is likely to be more rewarding than working a job. People also (hopefully) go to grad school to make better, more informed work and to make some friends and connections.
Q: What do you wish you would’ve learned from them?
ARP100: How to make a living when nobody wants to exhibit or buy your work.
Q: Do you suggest younger artists get an MFA? When?
ARP100: No way. Wait as long as you can. The longer you wait the more you’ll get out of it. Also, the older you are the more seriously the faculty will take you. You only get to go to grad school once, so make sure it’s the right program in the right city at the right time. Also, whatever you’re hoping to get out of it can probably be attained without attending more school and acquiring more debt.
Q: What’s so bad about Sterling Ruby???? Lol
ARP100: Ha! I love Sterling Ruby. He’s an incredible artist, but for some reason he’s so fun to make fun of. I think it’s because he seems to have attained massive success very quickly and easily. He is the poster boy art star. Also, his persona is quite serious and macho, so that makes him an easy target.
Q: Ok so let’s talk about the actual list… Art Review Power 100… Do you keep up with it? What do you think of it/who’s on it?
ARP100: lol. Does anyone take that list seriously? I usually check it when it comes out just for a laugh, but it’s awful and gets worse every year. There are barely any artists on it. I thought my account was the parody, but that list is a parody of itself. It’s emblematic of everything wrong with the art world.
Q: What’s some advice for young artists trying to ‘me it’ or whatever?
ARP100: Ask yourself what success looks like for you. If being successful is living exclusively off of the sales of your work for your entire life, you’ll likely be disappointed. Try to figure out other ways to earn income so the pressure isn’t all on your work. Surround yourself with people who are excited about what they are doing, and join them. Also, take risks, trust your instincts, and do it all sooner not later. Life moves fast.
Q: What’s something you wish you knew when you were younger?
ARP100: Don’t date your professor.