It’s certainly something to applaud for when people (which is not many) look at the made up distinction between what is considered to be high culture and low culture and just says fuck all that, and goes on to create a succulent smoothie that blends everything together nicely while raising the populist substance of the internet to art. Winnipeg-based artist Erin Jung easily achieves this with her current body of work which concerns itself with how identities are formulated particularly in relation to pop culture. She created an online persona named Megan Irwin. Megan Irwin was born out of her experience of other users who take on alternate identities informed by pop culture. Jung plays Megan, a devoted fan of pop star Zayn Malik who creates detailed renderings of her pop idol obsession and posts them online for some sort of gratification. We got the chance meet up with Jung to chat about Megan, boy bands, fan devotion, and what it’s like to be committing herself and performing as another person on the interweb.
"A lot of my work may come off as ridiculous and I know that. But that’s the point I’m making. People are then forced to realize their own reaction to my work and also certain aspects of their own behaviour.I don’t think fan art online is any different from art in a gallery or a museum.[Fans] channel all their energy into making these art pieces and they are sort of brushed off as insignificant which is unfair."
Luther Konadu: Did you come up with the name Megan Irwin?
LK: But it was based off an actual person?
EJ: Yeah, I found this comment on Youtube, which I thought was the most ridiculous thing, so I followed the commenter to their other online profiles which were all linked together, and then made [Megan Irwin] based on this person that I was following.
LK: Do you remember what the comment was?
EJ: It was from a makeup video. It was someone making a grunge makeup video. And this person [the original Megan] went on about how the makeup tutorial was clueless about the grunge lifestyle and had no right making the video, and it clearly sounded like some 12-year-old girl and it just made me laugh so I decided to follow her.
LK: What was the username for that commenter?
EJ:It was something like ‘michaelcliffordissexylol’. So I clicked it and that led me to her Tumblr and then onto her Deviantart account and her fan fiction website. It was hilarious.
LK:How long did it take you to get all her social media accounts?
EJ:No time. I just clicked it and it was all there. They had no images of themselves but they had all this personal information on there. I googled who Michael Clifford was and it made sense of all her fan art.
LK:So you found out her name was Megan?
EJ:Yeah she had up the name “Megan” with no last name so I just used the last name of a guy from another boy band she was in love with. So I made her Megan Irwin.
LK:How separated are you from the Megan character?
EJ:We are pretty opposite. The original Megan and I are entirely opposites but I can see bits of my past in her. That’s why I felt a sort of kinship to her when I was researching her. [The project] started out as sort of a disdainful thing and it turned to me feeling for her. It seemed more like this was the easiest way for her to define herself and talk to other people or relate to other people.