Chris Drange – Relics


Hatje Cantz, ISBN-13: 978-3775743624, English, 112 pages, 2017, Germany

Instagram as a visual and social phenomenon, with its seven hundred million users worldwide, should be one of the favourite topics and virtual spaces for student theses. And apparently it is if one of these students has triggered the interest of a major art publisher (Hatje Cantz) to publish his thesis. Drange’s work is simple and effective. He is coupling Instagram posts by a woman celebrity with another woman’s comment. They are printed on black pages, enhancing their format and colour and often it looks like a real, absurd, and obviously non-existent dialogue. In his short introduction, he writes about a “new form of worshipping” where smartphones become “shrine devices”, and the selected content just reinforces this concept. The celebrities are the most followed on Instagram: Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian. The illusion of a direct relationship with them is the holy grail for every serious fan. The environment formally allows it, with millions of direct communication channels open between the celebrities and the fans. The visual formal register used by Drange is striking, with a rude side by side, page after page, comparison between the fan’s overexcited worshipping and the official star in an iconic pose. Finally, we can consider Relics as not being too far from a classic artist’ book, cynically sampling digital pop culture, and inducing the uneasy taste of modernity.