Galeria Sztuki im. Jana Tarasina
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Internet mems are undoubtedly one of the most popular forms of activity for Internet users who like to use iconic images and witty, sometimes ironic subtitles to comment on the surrounding reality. The etymology of the word “mem” comes from the Greek word mimesis, which means imitation. The notion of the mem was introduced into the language by Richard Dawkins, who defined it in the cult book The Selfish Gene as multiplication. Glen Grant referred to cultural behaviour and described mem as a virus, a certain pattern of information, multiplied by the human mind. Mem only exists when it is multiplied and recreated making entire human knowledge “memetic”. The internet undoubtedly fosters diffusing and imitation. Marta Frej searched for inspiration to make her artworks and decided to transfer this popular form of commenting upon everyday events to her art by creating drawings that stem from photos and images found on the internet. Frej adds juicy, crude comments that accurately diagnose the cultural mechanisms of behaviour and ways of thinking, although these mainly deal with the sphere of womanhood and the reception of the body. For the artist, her own memetic activity is a form of a therapy. Frej tames her own corporeality. She does not want to fit into the beauty canons or beauty myths which eliminate wrinkles, cellulitis and all other forms of natural, physiological aging which becomes a bugbear for all contemporary women. The body becomes consumed and imprisoned by a look that categorises it. Frej takes womanhood out of the social context and gently unties the ribbons tightening the corset of beauty thereby allowing the body to breathe. Her works boil with liberated sexuality that through her work becomes a direct message. The artist tries to describe the status of contemporary women who are addicted to the beauty and fashion blogs, Instagram in which the mindless self rules as well as one’s own subconscious complexes which they try to smooth out by using an expensive foundation, a diet (vegan is best) and a Michael Kors’s purse. The works with captions such as: “In my purse I always have a lipstick, a mirror and a lot of doubts” on which there is an image of an emotional Coco Chanel, are mems-manifestoes, which adequately diagnose the female sphere of experiences. On the one hand women have become liberated and talk openly about their desires and experiences and on the other hand, they are still imprisoned in their own corporeality imposed by the regime of a never-aging body. Frej is a smart observer, who reveals the weaknesses of the contemporary world and puts a spoke in its wheel. Reality starts to shake on exorbitantly high heels, shedding on it’s way artificial eyelashes and underwear too tight. Witty and well-drawn mems by Frej force everyone to think and revise one’s opinions about corporeality and stereotypes that intrude upon the corporeal autonomy of an individual. Her works are a visual impulse to enlarge the space for freedom that is continuously limited by religion, politics and media.