When YouTube started getting really big, many artists took advantage of the visibility and started uploading their artworks and videos in the hope of getting noticed. Italian graffiti artist Blu reached 10 million views for his animation titled MUTO, made by painting and picturing in stop-motion his graffitis on many walls all over the world. The same happened with MySpace and, eventually, Facebook. Nowadays, with the new timeline design, Facebook made itself much more “graphic friendly”, and virtually all artists are showing off their works on the social platform.
There are, however, a small number of artists who are using Facebook actively in order not to just get gigs – which we know happen – but to use the platform as a media in order to produce works. Brazilian artist Lola Lustosa made an ongoing project titled “Ego” that defines Facebook as the biggest ego manager in history, by spamming 600 people's feeds with her “Facebook style” portraits. Italian painter Alessandro Bulgini has been playing with Facebook projects for a number of years, starting with“Vivo” in 2008, where every day he would assure his friends that he was still alive. He then played visually with the news feed page introducing self portraits of himself cut in three parts in order to disrupt his friends screens, which he then printed and exhibited in galleries and fairs. During the exhibition of the famous Turin Shroud he depicted himself in the same position as Jesus, posted it onto his Facebook page, then printed the result on a sheet of steel the same size as the shroud. Nowadays Alessandro continues his voyage through art Facebook interactions depicting a black screen image, and asking people to send him photos holding a cardboard for a project titled “Contacts”.
Another Italian artist, the performer Angelo Pretolani, has been using Facebook to describe his daily acts since 2009. A huge number of them has been now published in a book titled “Sotto il selciato c'è la sabbia” where all the comments to the performances are also published. This faraway interaction between the private performer and the public viewers has sparkled a novelty that, on a philosophical level, should be looked at in depth.
Tagging the image of one's own artwork has been the trend for a lot of artists – and, believe it or not, it does help getting known – and American Mark Bloch has been ironically critical about all this. His Facebook page is full of references to the Fluxus movement in relation to Facebook, and his is a constant exploration of the possibility of the medium as a continuation of a “movement” that sparkled the beginning of Mail Art.
And Mail Artists are quite naturally at home with the Facebook interaction, like the legendary Uruguayan Clemente Padin, whose poignant performances were little known to the wide public, but now can be repeated and reproduced ad lib for posterity.
Above all, Facebook remains an excellent platform for communication and for finding people who think alike, so it's only natural that the art world would explore this possibility too.