¬ Natalie Paneng
The artistic practice of Natalie Paneng centres around world-making, creating utopias full of hope, cuteness, and playfulness, which are simultaneously dreamy, trippy and weird. In 2016 she started this practice with a series called Hello Nice on YouTube. In this work, she performed as an alter-ego named Nice who explored the meaning of Internet aesthetics such as glitch art, gifs and Vaporwave memes. Nice allowed Paneng to ask questions and to create a new context where she had authority over the answers that repeatedly pointed to a decolonial and South African specific context for largely Euro-American positions on aesthetics.
The video work Niceatopia is linked to Paneng's personal detachment from social media and became a way for the artist to exist and play in another digital space, created by her with less of the restrictions and pressures we face from existing digitally and online. Ultimately, giving Paneng the freedom to play as well as speculate alternative realities and characters.
Through her work Natalie Paneng explores what it means to have an online presence, the personas we develop online and how the Internet and its algorithms control and influence us and our perceived reality. Her video work and art become a way for her to interrogate as well as share how she manifests and navigates the world she lives in and creates for herself. The internet is MTV and she welcomes you to her crib.
Natalie Paneng received her BA in Dramatic Arts from the University of Witwatersrand in 2018 and was awarded the Leon Gluckman Prize for the best piece of creative work in her Dramatic Art. She lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. Natalie makes use of both her self-taught digital skills and theatre background to create multidisciplinary digital art/new media.