– What do u watch on YouTube?
– Twerk videos…
Twerk Miley! Twerk Miley! This is where they said it all started, at least for the mainstream westerner viewer. Clicking, scrolling, sharing those booties shaking till twerk becomes global and gets into the Oxford dictionary. From traditional African dances, to the Bounce music scene, hip-hop and now mainstream pop, who is appropriating what? For who? And what are the cultural, social and political consequences?
Whether it is seen as mere cultural appropriation, as a sign of women empowerment or objectification, as an obscene phenomenon corrupting our youth or rather a spiritual movement liberating our ass, twerk is a complex theoretical playground.
For Floating Reverie residency, I’m making my own YouTube Twerk Channel filling the screen with butts, critical theory, pop politics aesthetic inviting Internet users and Johannesburg encounters into the conversation.
As Juicy J says “Keep twerking baby, might earn you a scholarship.”
Tabita Rezaire’s residency engages with very specific characteristics, motifs, and behaviours synonymous with YouTube. For her residency she created a YouTube channel that hosts videos and playlists that she has created and watched. These document a performance of research in a similar way to Turpin who engages with existing content. Rezaire leaves digital traces of her viewing and additionally references them through the videos she makes and posts daily. These explore the various debates around twerking and whether it is cultural appropriation, female empowerment, or female objectification. Rezaire uses a networked medium to explore the viral, cultural nature of this dance, action and response. In these videos a kitsch post-internet, New Aesthetic emerges through the combination of multiple digital visual references to twerking. Her primary reference is the inclusion of conversations and interviews that she conducted with individuals on the street or over Skype with people she knew, and with strangers. The conversations and performances are documented in her daily videos that are simultaneously placed against pop culture references of twerking. Her residency becomes a site of research and investigation combining information from various points of contact, such as celebrities like Nicki Minaj, theorists Fannie Sosa, trending videos on YouTube, online comments and her friends in Braamfontein. The cross-spectrum presents an interestingly curated archive of the role of Twerking in our digital context. It additionally asks the viewer not only to be critical of their behaviour but of how they receive content online.
To view the Post-Digital 2014 II, click here.