The L.A.-based Mandy Harris Williams has almost 11,000 followers on Instagram as @idealblackfemale, where she critically captions a mix of memes, selfies, and vintage photos, proselytizing the hashtag #brownupyourfeed. From calling out Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga on their borderline blackface to spotlighting the history of racial exclusion in beauty pageants, Williams makes a heady interrogation of race, gender, and representation bite-size and swipe-friendly. But she works IRL, too: Earlier this year, she was paired with Jonathan Borofsky in a two-person show at Paula Cooper Gallery that meditated on, among other things, Instagram algorithms’ surreptitious influence on desirability. And in The Worst Witch, a video collaboration with artists Devin Troy Strother and Alima Lee on view now at Shoot the Lobster L.A., she dresses up as a pointed-hat, green-skinned witch to probe ideas of mysticism and the Other. Harris, who describes herself as an “artist/writer/theorist/consultant” on her Instagram (above her “paypalme” link), is also available for PowerPoint performances covering subjects like responsible digital citizenry and self-care. We asked Williams if she could make an exclusive PowerPoint-style slideshow for Seen, and she came up with this examination of privilege, access, and aesthetics.
Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s