Memphis Stream: Axel Stockburger

Memphis Stream is an online streaming format in which we offer a platform for artists and cultural professionals who work with time-based media. For this purpose, video and sound works are presented on our website every four weeks. The format starts with a work by Viennese artist Axel Stockburger.

The work “Ekphrasis – The God of Kek II” is part of a series of videos, that deal with the phenomenon of Internet memes, often humorous images that are produced, copied, modified and distributed by users of social media platforms. While these memes have shaped the World Wide Web from the beginning, their social and political function as a propaganda tool has increased significantly recently. The use of memes as subliminal communication elements has become particularly apparent since the 2016 US presidential election. In the video series “Ekphrasis”, various people are asked to describe the image content of selected memes in detail and to analyze their affective effects from a subjective perspective. In this sense, these image-text constructs, which can often only be seen for a brief moment on social media platforms, are translated into spoken language, which gives the viewer the role of the medium.

“Ekphrasis – The God of Kek II” invites an artist to describe the infamous meme “Pepe the Frog”. This particular meme became known for its viral use by the so-called Alt Right movement and people who call themselves “meme magicians” in the 2016 US election campaign. The history of this image is marked by a complex process of appropriation and reassessment from a harmless cartoon character to an international symbol of hatred.

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Memphis Stream: Axel Stockburger

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