For the month of May, PAPERMAG is celebrating the wide, wonderful, strange world of social media. We'll be highlighting a few of our favorite, follow-worthy folk, from celebrities to artists to comedians to musicians, and reveling in some of the gloriously odd Internet trends that crop up on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and more. Join us and discover the accounts you need to be following now.
Artist/self-proclaimed troll Karim Boumjimar is the creative force behind the BeigeType Instagram, a bizarrely beautiful collection of off-kilter, visceral visuals and digitally-altered nudes that take the practice of self-portraiture to a whole new level. Exploring the union between the mind and the body through the use of materials as disparate as blood oranges to used cigarette butts, we were instantly enamored with his eccentric, polarizing approach to depictions of the body on such a public platform. As such, we spoke to Boumjimar himself about everything from Internet narcissism to Instagram censorship, and, of course, how hater drama makes everything a little more interesting.
Tell me a little bit about your art practice. Do you think the "troll" label some have dubbed you with is accurate?
I started using Instagram as a diary, I've had so many accounts. Some of them had different approaches and a specific target audience. Not too long ago I had @Offgloss which was an account based around my art, and now I'm using @beigetype which is more focused on my identity and how I want to be perceived. I believe that each one of my accounts has an expiry date, but for now @beigetype is here to stay. My current art focuses more on people's reactions and what I want them to sense from me. I was the one who called myself a troll one day, I could have made anyone believe any sobriquet I gave myself -- I could have said I was a singer and people would have called me a singer. I'm quite tired of the troll label itself. I might be a fire man next week.
What are the primary artistic themes you work with? Why primarily focus on self portraiture?
The themes that I work with are the disconnection and the union of the mind and body. I believe that narcissism is my main medium. I use my body to create a conversation between me and the viewer. The feedback I get builds the conversation, and the discourse informs my creative awareness in different ways.
Would you also consider yourself to be a fashion designer? Would you consider your clothing creations an expansion of your practice or merely an aesthetic element you create for your photos? By the way, I'd probably buy those broccoli earrings you made. How long did they last before rotting?
I do not consider myself to be a fashion designer. It all intersects, clothing is just a more tangible art form. I enjoy the process of creating pieces and that is well documented on my social media. I do love it when I cause some kind of impact or when I get some sort of reaction from people.
The broccoli earrings were made for a vegan lunch date. The date didn't show up but I met an amazing homeless person, I gave the earrings to them. They were persistent about wanting my earrings. I wonder if it was because it really went with their outfit or they were just hungry. The reason why I don't like fashion is because it's not functional.
Do you consider your social media persona to be the real you?
I have been a troll online for a few months, I don't know what I was before. My work revolves around what is real and what isn't real online, and how that extends into the real life.
The way you approach nudity is really interesting, but have you had issues with Instagram trying to delete you etc.?
People love my nudes, I love them too, they are always ecological. Sometimes I feel like by sending hate they are trying to interrupt me. I edit my pictures sometimes with STDs, and add a bit of brightness in order to light up people's lives. I've thought so many times of making tutorials on how to take nudes, because it seems to me that some people are born with the talent of taking nudes and others are just a bit incompetent. We should all help each other.
How have you handled cyberbullying/trolling? How do you avoid internalizing it?
I love getting hate online, and in real life too. When it comes to getting compliments, I always ignore them. They are always so boring: "Oh my god! I love your Instagram!!!" or "Your account is amazing!!!". I always get the same sorts of compliments but when it comes to hate it always makes me think and I come up with great answers. Overall they inspire me so much. Creative hate just makes me feel proud of being part of the Internet. When I get too much hate, it helps me get away from social media and focus more on my offline existence. Almighty God is far more powerful than these people and will soon punish them.
I don't really remember having a bad moment on social media, but when my friends post pictures of me accidentally looking clean, I just think that they are doing it on purpose to see my online career flop. No one relevant has ever sent me hate, but I caught my boyfriend sending me hate once. It was funny. I sometimes get hate from weird accounts, that have 2 followers, follow 200 people and are on private. It's very creepy. Who has the time to make fake accounts? But if that's how they want to live I have no problems with it, I love drama.
What is the weirdest thing you've ever seen on the Internet?
I find weird stuff all the time. The other day I found a video of my friend eating her tampon and it wasn't even lunch time.
How addicted are you to social media/online life?
I'm always online. I always remember to check my Instagram. It's the first thing I do after I fall asleep and the last thing I do before I wake up.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I recently launched my website
www.beigetype.co.uk and you can expect more new features coming on there because I'm really bored of censorship online, and there I will be able to put up anything I want, such as my bellybutton necklace or my nipple earrings.