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Jillian Mayer
Jillian Mayer has experimented with photography, installations, performance art and sculpturevia @jillianmayer

Get lost in Instagram’s underground art scene

Secret sex cults, cyber-art and Lynchian mysteries – take a super weird trip with Insta’s most offbeat accounts

There's little doubt that Instagram has become one of the most exciting new spaces for fledgling artists. With its rise of cyber conceptualism, body-positive females and empowering art hoes, the social media site has become one of the most provocative and powerful platforms for creative expression. “(Instagram) reminds me of the art journals I kept in high school, before tech devices saturated my existence,” says artist Jillian Mayer. “My Instagram account is me because it is of me. My art work takes a long time to develop and has narrative through lines, as opposed to my Instagram feed which is more of a shedding of my day.” Despite being the perfect place to watch these offbeat new talents ‘shed’ though, it's still pretty hard to know where to find them – and here's where we can help.


Moving seamlessly through worlds of eerie virtuality and warm domesticity, Sara Ludy's art is the very definition of uncanny. It's warm, funny, but also super disturbing – reimagining everything from cats to childhood toys through mischievously manipulated photography and animation. “In some ways I consider Instagram as an extension of my studio,” Ludy says. “A work feels different when I upload it to a network. It takes on a life of its own and that's more interesting to me than it just sitting on my desktop.”


“It’s impossible to get bored with digital art, there is always an interesting new tool to learn,” Claudia Maté told us back in June – and with her growing rep for eccentric experimentation, she's definitely sticking to her word. Flickering between pop-culture parodies and genuinely terrifying animations, the cyber-artist's Instagram has basically become a creative sounding board: somewhere where she can pour out her more unformed and unsettling inventions.


Transforming Chanel bags into baguettes, making sculptures out of tampons and creating her own commercials – Canadian artist Chloe Wise playfully pokes fun at... well.. everything. “The way I internalise the things I see around me is through a lens of humor, where I'm constantly laughing at myself, my life, the art world, consumerism,” she told Oyster magazine last year. Since then, her Instagram fanbase has only been building – with more and more people flocking to see her tongue-in-cheek take on the 21st century.


Fine art photographer Worm Carnevale uses his lens to explore the darker sides of identity, sexuality and mortality. Switching between film, gifs and installation, his work is like a big, Lynchian enigma – shining a murky light on surreal subcultures and dream-like scenarios. “The majority of my Instagram is snapped with my smart phone showing my day-to-day inspirations that I come in contact with,” he explains. “It's a good solution to Twitter's limitation... Plus you get to double-tap which is a favorite past time of mine.”


Lil Government isn't afraid of stepping over to the dark side. With an Instagram rammed full of gimp masks and voyeuristic visions, her work feels more like a secret diary of deviancy than a document of day-to-day life. “My only aim with the images I post, fetishistic or otherwise, are to please and express myself,” the art director writes. “If anything, I hope to remove some of the shock value of these themes by inundating a largely unfamiliar audience with their existence. Both as images and knee-jerk emotional or sexual hot buttons.”


Maisie Cousins has created her very own weird and wonderful galaxy for feminist expression. Taking the tried-and-tested tropes of objectification, sexuality and body image to a whole other cosmos, the London artist's photography is a vivid and vivacious look at what it means to be a woman today. 


Much like fellow Instagram artist Alexandra Marzella, ‘Amy’ (or @ilovebrucewillis as she is more commonly known) is no stranger to the power of the selfie. Her Instagram, packed with images of otherworldly beauty and phallic sculptures, turns the lens inwards, highlighting our obsession with sexual censorship. “Seeing the way in which someone can get so outraged over something so inoffensive like a nipple or a condom speaks volumes about the way in which anything remotely 'sexual' is taught to be treated as taboo,” she explains. “I find it so ridiculous to be honest.”


The @officialseanpenn account has already become a sweeping sensation across social media. Run by Caroline Goldfarb, it not only collects some of the most rare (and hilarious) celeb shots, but it's also generated a punchy lo-fi aesthetic that's completely its own. If you're not one of the 190,000 that follow it already, you know what to do.


Artist Jillian Mayer is not one to limit herself. Having already gone viral with the darkly bizarre I am your grandma, her creative compulsions have also seen her experiment with photography, installations, performance art, and sculpture. “I'm attracted to humour and wit,” she reveals. “Comedy is a vessel for the telling of all horrible absolute human truths and brings people together. If you cannot laugh at yourself with others, than you are probably alone crying in your Honda Civic or closet or something.” 


Katherine Frazer's work, which generally consists of kaleidoscopic visuals and cyber collages, reconstructs the relationship between the digital and analog worlds. “My computer is an extension of myself, both intellectually and physically – but I feel disconnected from it,” she explains. “I aim to capture my computer in its most vulnerable states, when it is malfunctioning, lagging or crashing in order to relate to it.”