A trip down the Rabbit Hole

20 December 2018

A universe of internet memes, in an exhibition and on the big screen.

If you spend any time on the internet you must be familiar with memes. The internet meme is everywhere, and artists and filmmakers are using its visual language to tell stories and express themselves. IFFR puts this phenomenon in the spotlight in thematic programme Rabbit Hole, bringing together a colourful collection of meme-related works at the ‘Meme Café’ @Het Nieuwe Instituut and in film theatres.

Part of the Perspectives section at IFFR 2019, Rabbit Hole invites the audience into the deep and shallow realms of the internet by showing filmmakers and artists whose works are inspired by the internet meme. Involving various platforms, Rabbit Hole forms a myriad of different media and references. All originating from the visual language of the meme, the works use, comment and (re)interpret memes into endless circularity and new works.  

At the Meme Café, the audience is invited to participate in #MEMEPROPAGANDA Goes to Rotterdam, an exhibition by European internet collective Clusterduck and Superinternet that will happen both online and IRL (in real life). Draw memes collectively with meme lords from all over the world via a secret website, come read and post on the special message board 4ducks and look out for printed posters by meme makers and artists on the streets of Rotterdam.

Also on show is David OReilly’s Octocat Story. For this two-channel video work, OReilly collected the pieces of fan art that sprawled the internet after his 2008 Octocat video series went viral. For more installations happening at the Meme Café, see the list below.  






Memes also extend to the big screen, with Diamantino for instance, a wildly inventive satire featuring a superstar Portuguese footballer, giant fluffy puppies, and cloned celebrities. Dan Schoenbrun’s A Self-Induced Hallucination is comprised entirely of found YouTube footage, and is a headlong, often hilarious dive into the online myth of Slender Man, a fictional supernatural character which originated as a creepypasta Internet meme in 2009. For a deeper dive into the Slenderman memeverse after seeing the film, visit the Meme Café for the SLENDERMAN IS REAL//SLENDERMAN IS FAKE installation.

Rabbit Hole also hosts world premieres of the short films Little Lower Than the Angels by female art collective Neozoon exploringthe memeification of American Christian iconography and rituals,and Lost Episode by Christopher Radcliffe, which cuts together various reactions to a terrifying, fabricated Mickey Mouse cartoon. Memes also inspire music videos – a good example of this is Faceshopping by electronic musician SOPHIE.

The programme opens on 24 January during Thursday Night Live! with a special Meme Night from 19:30 to 0:00 hours in the Meme Café @Het Nieuwe Instituut. Clusterduck wil be there to give a talk on how meme characters are used on the social web and by the press as (political) mascottes. Their secret internet space will be opened for the duration of the festival. And don’t miss the big meme battle – YLYL (you laugh, you lose)!

Rabbit Hole is curated by IFFR programmer Inge de Leeuw, with contributions by guest curators Tobias Kers, Christopher Osborn and Ioana Stanescu.

Below is a list of works in Rabbit Hole. More will be announced later.

Installations @ Meme Café:

  • #MEMEPROPAGANDA Goes to Rotterdam, Clusterduck & Superinternet, 2018, Europe

  • Get Your Views; Is This Meme Art?, Sasha Gransjean, 2017, USA/China

  • Octocat Meme Story, David OReilly, 2018, Japan


Short films:

  • The Air of the Earth in Your Lungs​​, Ross Meckfessel, 2018, USA/Japan 11’, European premiere

  • Faceshopping​​,SOPHIE, 2018, USA/United Kingdom, 4’

  • first, Daniel Chew, Micaela Durand, 2019, USA, 12’, world premiere

  • Giverny I (NÉGRESSE IMPÉRIALE), Ja'Tovia Gary, 2017, USA, 6’

  • Global Windshield, The Musical, Momu & No Es, 2018, Netherlands, 18’, European premiere

  • Hi I Need to Be Loved​​, Marnie Ellen Hertzler, 2018, USA, 11’

  • I've Never Been a Fisherman, Joe Stankus, 2018, USA, 5’, international premiere

  • Little Lower Than the Angels, Neozoon, 2019, Germany, 12’, world premiere

  • Lost Episode,Christopher Radcliff, 2019, USA, 8’, world premiere

  • Please Step out of the Frame, Karissa Hahn, 2018, USA, 4’

  • A Room with a Coconut View, Tulapop Saenjaroen, 2018, Thailand, 28’

  • this country is lonely, Jaco Bouwer, 2019, South Africa, 18’, world premiere

Feature films:

  • Diamantino, Gabriel Abrantes/Daniel Schmidt, 2018, Portugal/France/Brazil, 92’

  • Make Me Up​, Rachel Maclean, 2018, UK, 85’

  • A Self-Induced Hallucination​​, Dan Schoenbrun, 2018, USA, 74’, international premiere

Other blog posts on IFFR 2019