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Christine Wang, „Kim Kardashian“, 2021

Christine Wang

Kim Kardashian (2021)

In her acrylic-on-canvas paintings, US artist Christine Wang draws on the vast digital library of memes in a practice that could be described as a tautological impulse. Wang plays with the tensions inherent in this aesthetic proclamation, asserting memes as legitimate aesthetic products and undermining divisions between high and low culture. Treating memes like any other found object, Wang meticulously reproduces the images by hand (a process antithetical to the very logic of memes), heightening their saturation and paying careful attention to individual pixels: trompe l’oeil for the digital world.Wang’s edition for TEXTE ZUR KUNST features a highly circulated image of a crying Kim Kardashian, here with the words “I MISS WORKING” emblazoned across the top. For those literate in internet culture, the image is immediately recognizable as a well-known staple in the meme canon. Wang’s iteration of the meme can be read in response to events of the last year: the experience of losing a job or being bound to working from home. As such, however, it also underscores social inequities that have become increasingly stark: there are those who have the luxury and privilege to work from home, and those who don’t – those who are deemed at once essential and expendable. Kim’s pained expression might evoke sympathy or offer some relatable sense of exhaustion, but like all of Wang’s memes, “Kim Kardashian” also repels; it captures an unsettling mix of euphoria, cynicism, and hypocrisy embedded in so much of the material that floats through the ether.