Date: May 1 – 31, 2016
Partner: Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
Project Members: Bethea Arielle Penny
@UofTDrizzy is a popular Instagram account run by an anonymous student at the University of Toronto. The images feature Toronto rapper Drake photoshopped into the life of a student at U of T Scarborough. Using cleverly parodied lyrics for captions, “Drake the campus boy” can be seen waiting for the bus, eating street food and studying in the library, among other everyday activities. When asked why Drake, UofTDrizzy responded, “I feel like Scarborough never really got any real love from Drake before UofTDrizzy happened. While he’d mention Scarborough in his tracks, he’d never really be here. Through the @UofTDrizzy account, he doesn’t get a choice. The absurdity of him being a regular student at UTSC is what makes it really funny.”
In May, UofTDrizzy will be visiting the downtown St. George campus through a series of 11×17 posters for the public installation, #DrizzyDoesUTSG. In addition to 5 of UofTDrizzy’s iconic images, 10 new works created specifically for #DrizzyDoesUTSG will be released throughout the month. Mirroring the online publication of these images, multiple copies of each poster will be distributed across campus on the same day they are posted on Instagram, creating a cumulative body of work that physically mimics the visual presence of social media. As each new image goes up, the previous ones will not be taken down, yet they will naturally fade from the immediate visual sphere, as do online images that gradually get lost in the history of an account’s feed.
Exemplifying the influence of pop culture and reach of new media, #DrizzyDoesUTSG plays with the idea of tastemaking by injecting digital imagery into a more traditional analog format. Not only is it entertaining and relatable for inexperienced audiences, #DrizzyDoesUTSG also retains enough depth to satisfy the more experienced festival-goer through an exploration of the ephemerality yet pervasiveness of online media. Using a new way of viewing @UofTDrizzy’s photographs, it acts an access point for discovery, where the informal world of art appreciation can come in contact with the established industry.
This exhibition is intended for both festivalgoers who will seek it out and also UTSG students who will come across it by way of everyday life.
The exhibition will be spread across the U of T St. George campus in approved areas that posters are usually found. This installation will be part of the poster “noise” that students are regularly exposed to, while also standing out as something different.
This project started a bit later than others in the class, having begun in October 2015. Since proposing the concept it has continually been in a state of flux and changed forms multiple times. February 2016 was the deadline for the final installation essay so by then the idea had to be fully developed. Since February the printing and distribution details, as well as responding to the press have been the main concerns. The exhibit will open May 1.
The plan is to have 15 different designs, with the first 5 being previously released images from the @UofTDrizzy account. There will be approximately 130 posters of each design and the first 5 designs will all be released on May 1 in order to populate the campus. Then the following 10 designs are scheduled to be postered and released online simultaneously, one every three days for the rest of the month.
This exhibition, though not yet on display, has already received a fair amount of press. Some of that is through CONTACT’s PR firm, and since then other features have begun to crop up. Media coverage so far has been in Canadian Art Magazine, The Sun (nation-wide), The Toronto Star, 24 Hours, CBC, See Toronto Now, and Varsity, as well as highlighted by the iSchool’s social media. We will be tracking the quantitative effects of the exhibit on the Instagram account throughout the month of May.
I’d like to thank everyone who has been a part of this project, especially Darcy Killeen and Sabrina Maltese from CONTACT and Matthew Brower, Rebecca Noone, and Carmen Victor who have been essential in the development of this project through the support and advice offered in MSL4000.