Looking back on the evolving artistic landscape of 2017, Ben Davis reflects on the mutations the role of the artist has undergone lately.
Ben Davis, December 28, 2017
Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen) and Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) pose for a photo in Ingrid Goes West (2017).
In part one of this look back on the year, I talked about the evolving status of museums in the era of social media, changing audience habits, and the rise of Big Fun Art. Here, I’ll shift focus to how 2017 impacted the artists who help shape the discourse.
An Art-Social Media Romance
Matt Spicer’s film Ingrid Goes West will stand as a time capsule of the balance of cultural forces in 2017. It tells the story of sad-sack Instagram stalker Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) and her obsession with fauxhemian LA lifestyle influencer Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen). Taylor’s husband Ezra (Wyatt Russell) is an artist who makes awful (but credible) social-media-inspired paintings: found canvasses with meme-ish slogans scrawled on them, including a herd of galloping stallions superimposed with the word “SQUADGOALS.”
What’s interesting is the complementary relationship between the Ezra-Taylor couple’s creative personae. Taylor, it is revealed, isn’t genuinely into the intellectual props that she studs her Instagram life with: Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, etc. Those, we learn, are Ezra’s tastes. She has simply appropriated them for their hipster cachet.