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Two weeks after Texas basically banned abortion, the Met Gala moved forward last night with the laughably dystopian theme of “American Independence.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s iconic annual cash cow was slightly different this year, taking place in the fall with two thirds of its usual guest list, about 400 people. (Due to pandemic reshuffling, the 2020 and May 2021 festivities were canceled; the gala will resume its usual spring schedule next year.)
In many other ways, it was exactly the same; namely, a parade of blinged-out interpretations of the theme that rolls out on social media as the red carpet photos start to trickle. And the easiest way to win this expensive contest is not to be the most glamorous (see: Indigenous model Quannah Chasinghorse‘s Navajo turquoise-studded look, Amanda Gorman’s accessories referencing poetry and liberty), but to be the most memeable.
In the latter category, there was Kim Kardashian in a black full-body stocking reminiscent of a Harry Potter dementor; Lil Nas X in a gold suit of armor; and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Tax the Rich” gown. (In her defense, the NY rep said “the medium is the message” — but that message raised eyebrows, because a single ticket to this bombastic celebration of unfettered capitalism costs $35,000.) For a reality check, LittleSis.org has created this handy flowchart of all the problematic multimillionaires on the Met museum’s board.
Below, we rounded up the best memes and snarkiest commentary on the evening’s most absurd getups. Bonus: check out Brendan McCann’s annotated Declaration of Independence ensemble, above; the artist is known for crafting faux Met Gala outfits entirely out of objects found around his home (no invitation required.)
Predictably, the Internet had a rollicking good time with Kim K’s terrifying outfit selection. The fact that it was designed by Balenciaga got lost in a sea of memes drawing uncanny comparisons, from the titular character of the Alien franchise to the creepy Grim Reaper figure that appears when one of your Sims dies.
AOC, a member of the so-called “Squad” of progressive Congresswomen, received mixed reviews for wearing a dress that champions redistributive taxation at an elite museum event. But the best responses are the bizarre new meme she sparked, which consists of long rambling texts overlaid on the gown.
As in previous editions, the gala’s theme is related to the Met’s concurrent Costume Institute exhibition; this year, it’s In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, an homage to US designers coinciding with the Institute’s 75th anniversary. Given this focus, some of us naturally wondered why the nation’s most recognizable contributions to fashion didn’t make an appearance on the red carpet:
And while the Met Gala is usually strictly about fashion, it does take place at one of the world’s largest encyclopedic art museums. A number of memes refreshingly honored some recurring themes among institutions: overworked museum workers, looted artifacts, and toxic philanthropy.
In no particular category, here’s a few more memes that made the cut.
And on a lighthearted ending note, we’ll just leave this here!
While staying as a house guest, a naked Le Corbusier defiled Gray’s minimalist, color-blocked walls that were only restored in 2015.
Keep your friends close and your bad art friends closer.
Hear from Holly Jean Buck, Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas, Simon Denny, Elizabeth Hoover, Renee Kemp-Rotan, Joseph Kunkel, and more at this free public event.
In his new book, Tyler Green argues that landscape was Emerson’s method of glorifying territories shaped and bordered by white men.
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EFA Open Studios offers a portal into the creative habitats of over 65 artists working in Manhattan’s longest-running studio program, including Dannielle Tegeder, Wafaa Bilal, Cui Fei, and Anina Major.
The unvarnished photographs celebrate the lives, beauty, and resilience of an oppressed group at Chile’s social peripheries in the 1980s, and the series was recently acquired by MOCA in Los Angeles.
51 international publishers and galleries showcase their latest editions in prints and artists’ books at this free public fair, which is fully online this year.
The University of Virginia researchers wrote that the data “provides compelling evidence that these symbols are associated with hate.”
We are waiting for spectacle and when the quotidian, yet incongruous actions occur I wonder whether there is any real payoff coming.
Tanega’s approach to mark-making comes across as stream of consciousness, as if she’s engaged in a conversation with herself.