FeltZine is back for Issue 61 featuring L.A.-based digital meme artist, Renaissance Man. Experience Issue 61 here and learn more about Renaissance Man below:
Where do you live? How does that inspire your work?
Renaissance Man: I [used to] live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada which is probably the largest cultural vacuum on the east coast. It’s a super bland safe haven for neoliberal bootlickers, but in that regard it serves me well, as I can’t go a day without being forcibly reminded of my disdain for libs, right wingers, centrists and western mediocrity in general. That disdain is probably the biggest contributing factor to my compulsion to create memes, and I think if there was one unifying thread in my meme portfolio, it’s hypercriticism of both the ideological and visual status quo.
Some of your works contextualize artworks from past decades and centuries. What period of art is your personal favorite?
“Damn, the answer to that changes all the time. But yeah I do love to fuck around with the western art history canon, not out of reverence, but because I want to actively dethrone dead millionaire white dude artists. IMO it’s just good praxis to recapitulate art that was made by and for gatekeepers as memes. I mean it’s pretty obvious that memes are probably the most democratic artistic medium of all time, whereas paintings that can only be viewed at museums that charge a $40 entry fee are definitely not.”
How would you describe yourself?
“Lover of dogs, hater of capitalism.”
Where was your first meme experience?
“There’s a lot to be said about the distinction between “memes” and just sort of generalized weird millennial visual diarrhea (of which I identify with the latter, strongly), as memes tend to be more format-based recapitulation and transmutation of existing ideas, symbols, and language, whereas the shit I make is maybe best described as the diary of someone with adult ADHD. When I was a kid i used to draw weird fucking comics, I don’t know, stuff like dinosaurs wearing sunglasses saying stuff like “crap!” or Sonic the Hedgehog flipping the bird. I recently unearthed an autobiography assignment i wrote in the fifth grade that said something to the effect of, “I love making zany drawings and putting my jokes on them, that is where i truly shine” and it’s fucking sick to be able to say that, 20 years later I’m still at it.”
Many of your works touch on activism, philosophy, and political critique. Do your artworks serve any particular community?
“I feel like my work exists at the intersection of a few strange places. It’s definitely fair to describe me as a leftist meme admin, an aesthete, a political cartoonist, and I definitely provide some semblance of what people with those interests might be looking for. I’m gonna be honest and say that my account grew to the size it is today because of a lot of depression jokes, and a lot of saying “fuck cops” which are both great things, but are definitely low hanging fruit in the garden of ‘meme-ly’ delights. Now that I’ve got a bit of a following I think it’s, especially as a cis white dude, my duty to use my platform to spread some awareness of concerns of actual consequence, and not just being sad. I don’t think I actively act in the service of any one community, but I do act in disservice to the oppressor class. Punch up.”
Do you have any desire to expand your practice across different mediums or platforms?
“I feel like memes, as a medium, are like hyper-conflated black holes for all of our visual and popular culture. Personally it’s really rewarding that I can throw some art nouveau font, some formalist design, a care bear, and a joke about killing cops onto a 1:1 ratio square and somehow have it resonate with people. It’s sort of the ‘uber medium’ I guess, which is sick. As far as platforms go, most of the current school of weird memes started on Facebook, and I feel like Instagram is enjoying its last days in the spotlight before collapsing into itself like the dying star it is. I have no idea what the next relevant platform is gonna be. Maybe I should start chilling with zoomers? They seem to have their fingers on the pulse.”
Do you consider yourself a digital artist?
Felt Zine Issue 61 is now available online here. Find more updates and upcoming tour dates below:
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Written By: Dev Moore