People of Instagram Project

Artist's Statement "The People of Instagram Project" by Carole Nataf


Posting pictures of oneself on social media is a daily routine, a commonplace. However, once posted online, images live a virtually eternal life and autonomous existence, free from their author and model. Still, this reality remains sufficiently abstract to be disregarded.


‘The People of Instagram Project’ seeks to materialize this reality and the everyday practice of self-portraits and selfies on instagram. Through oil painting, I provide them the material existence of an object while emphasizing the contemporary frames they fit in : “likes”, “comments” and “shares”. In the tangible object of a painting, I explore the permanence of social media visuals, despite their immediacy and digital nature.


Reference subjects are selected from public instagram newsfeeds, browsing the hashtag “selfie”. Their portrait is painted in oil allaprima technique (wet on wet), on a square cotton canvas. The instagram header and footer are added on the top and bottom of the canvas including the button icons printed with a laser cut stamp. Once the painting is finalized, it is posted on instagram and the reference model’s instagram account is tagged, to close the loop. With this process, I hope to showcase the paradox of social media, offering high control over self-representation and at the paradoxically, no control in how such images can be reused by somebody else, like me.


In this series of portraits painted from instagram pictures, I compose with high exposure and saturation, distorted colors from filters and close up, high angle poses. This results in unusual compositions and color harmonies, comical effects and sometimes a more serious touch. Following Richard Prince’s intuition, I take a playful approach to self-presentation on social media rather than moralizing. I believe transposing Social Media Culture to Fine Arts enables us to shift perspectives and reflect on our reflection with fresh eyes.