With Twitter in free fall and the Meta money-hole looming over Mark Zuckerberg’s head, stories about the negative impact of social media are all over the news these days. Depression, anxiety, doomscrolling, and data harvesting are just a few of the side effects users experience on apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. In short, there’s plenty to be pessimistic about.
South African-born artist Jared Hendler sees a silver lining in the dark clouds hovering over these apps. Now based in Los Angeles, Jared documents the rise of the influencer, exploring how marginalized voices connect with a wider audience through acts of vulnerability. “The underlying human need to connect with others on an intimate level requires us to publicly expose a part of ourselves not often seen,” he writes in his artist statement.
Appropriated directly from social media, Jared’s gestural oil paintings capture the personality and essence of each influencer with alarming insight. His work documents “our obsession with creating our own identities,” a phenomenon that continues to broaden as oppressed communities find new outlets for self-expression. “Many marginalized communities previously unrecognized or misrepresented by mainstream media now have a direct and powerful voice,” says Jared.
Working in advertising throughout the ‘90s, Jared quickly recognized that seismic shifts in technology were changing long-cemented power structures. Individuals living outside the confines of social mores and cultural norms suddenly had a powerful voice, a tool that allowed for authenticity, vulnerability, and connection like never before.
“No one’s doing portraits of these people,” Jared says in an interview with Muse by Clio, a platform exploring creativity in advertising. Abandoning tired portraiture tropes, Jared finds himself untethered to royals and blue bloods with too much money and cultural clout. His work seeks a new paradigm, one that reflects contemporary attitudes about identity. “The emergence of a ‘new’ celebrity for a new era is what I bring to life in my work,” he says. “A reflection and archive of who we are now.”
“Many marginalized communities previously unrecognized or misrepresented by mainstream media now have a direct and powerful voice.” — Jared Hendler
Jared Hendler: Website | Instagram
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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