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Amalia Ulman

Ed Fornieles photographed by Amalia Ulman, 2014

Amalia Ulman

Amalia Ulman is an Argentinian-born, predominantly Spanish-raised artist based between the cities of Los Angeles, London and Gijón. A self-described transatlantic expat, a spirit of national nomadism and outsider cultural inquisitiveness inform her practice. Her works are primarily voiced in the first person, often blurring the distinction between the artist and object of study. The aesthetic is clean, minimal and translucent. The recurring imagery – pearls, butterflies, hearts, coffee art, household ornamentation, and motivational slogans evoke mundane prosaicness with an undertone of possession, seduction, anxiety and insecurity. Ubiquitous, everyday objects are observed as unearthed treasures concealing exotic truths, viewed from a furtive, almost voyeuristic vantage point. In a multidisciplinary manner, she charts a soft-toned exploration of the relationships between consumerism and identity, class imitation and social deception, altruism and orientalism, with a particular focus on the idea of “cute” and “pretty”. She uses the aesthetic languages of the middle, its ‘sublime ordinariness’, as a mechanism to explore the intersection of class and aesthetics at its most salient point: taste. It is the finger-pointing and moralizing of ‘pretty’ that perhaps allows us to see that Ulman’s work is remarkable in that its reception is marked by a conflicted sense of pleasure and unease and even shame and hypocrisy. Such ideas are expanded in her work, whose light touch asks not only how aesthetic consumption aligns one to a particular class position, but also, how a position of criticality is itself a space of privilege. She is a feminist.

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