The London based gallery LD50’s current exhibition ‘71822666’ introduces a collection of alt-right and NRx generated content into the gallery sphere, in a gesture that seeks to dissect the aesthetic climate typical of the subculture. While the complex construction of memetics is certainly worthy of analysis, LD50’s failure to contact or credit their selected participants signals a widening chasm between the two cultural spheres.
Memes, the ‘anarchic folk propaganda’ that operate externally to dependent networks of gallery display, increasingly demonstrate their structural relationship to art practice. They are a digitally native, poetic form that, as I have argued elsewhere, potentially signal a ‘new renaissance’: the shift towards a reality newly augmented by aesthetics. In recent months they have demonstrated a stronger political reach that art has shown in decades.
Queried by an unaware participant LD50 replied: “there’s no artist whatsoever appropriating your work… this is literally your work. we just ‘curated’ a part of the internet, and I found your work one of the most powerful things I’ve seen”. Appropriation discourses in art practice are often an excuse for clumsy creditation; and although memetics are endlessly self-referential, their transmutation into a gallery space feels awkward and archaic.