Alexander Melamid speaks in sweeping terms, which is exactly how you might expect a 70-year-old Russian émigré to see the world. “If the system sucks, everyone sucks within the system,” he boomed. “You cannot be right within the wrong system.” This can be intimidating at first. After all, Melamid is the co-founder, along with Vitaly Komar, of Sots Art, what is sometimes referred to as “Soviet Pop Art.” This is someone whose work many of us have read about in art history books, and so his declarations hold considerable weight for us comparatively smaller people.
But if it were up to Melamid, he’d have those books destroyed.
“Gradual Kingdom” at Signal Gallery in Bushwick (Photo: Nicole Disser)
To get a feel for Meriem Bennani‘s work, it’s best to look up @meriembennani on Instagram. After scrolling through the photoshopped weirdness and absurd takes on everything from Drake videos to the avant-garde hijabs of Fardaous Funjab, you’ll find that Bennani is really good at the internet. So good, that the Times was moved to highlight her, qualifying her as a representative “Millennial Artist” fluent in the language of post-Internet. Millennial accusations aside, she’s one of those people who makes the internet weird/smart and not just weird/depressing. In other words, Bennani’s work actually deserves that happy-tears cat emoji.
Gradual Kingdom is the artist’s most significant solo-installation presence yet; now on view at Signal Gallery, it offers an opportunity for people to see Meriem Bennani, for once, in slow motion.