It was an unusually quiet day on a recent visit to PS1– so deserted that, weirdly, I felt like I could get better acquainted with the 19th-century elementary school portion of the building than ever before. Call me cray, but the artwork at MoMA’s edgier little sister began to feel straight-up rebellious against the throwback schoolish confines which, in turn, started to feel even more institutional. Now that I was alone, and making actual contact with doors and hallways instead of awkwardly rubbing all over my fellow museum-goers, I realized everything was just slightly undersized. And that obligatory museum hush was starting to feel so intense that I felt compelled to swallow my gum and adjust my bad posture (everyone knows a well-trained ear can actually hear you resting on your laurels).
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.