Steamed Hams

Aug 12 2023 – Nov 19 2023

I hope you’re prepared for an unforgettable luncheon, because Steamed Hams is serving up a feast of cursed TikTok videos, Lindsay Lohan cameos, and sentient muppets. Examining the relationship between contemporary art and internet culture, this exhibition features a selection of New Zealand and international artists who offer dark and funny insights into how our worldview has been filtered through memes, fanfic, and viral videos.

Steamed Hams takes its title from an iconic sketch on a 1996 episode of The Simpsons, which in recent years has turned into a stubbornly ubiquitous internet meme. What began as a niche in-joke among fans has grown into a huge cultural phenomenon all its own, inspiring a seemingly endless stream of imaginative parodies, remixes and redubs.

The artists in this exhibition draw upon different modes of internet humour to examine what it means when these funny little nuggets of pop culture get lodged in the collective imagination. Positioning memes, AI art and viral videos in the same art historical tradition as Dada absurdism and ready-mades, Steamed Hams uses comedy to pose serious questions about culture, communication, and the role of artists in the digital age. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re in on the joke—either way, it tells you something about your place in the tangled web of digital culture.

Featuring the work of Cecelia Condit, Beth Frey, Claire Harris, Tiyan Baker, Matthew Griffin, Xanthe Dobbie, Rohan Weallans, and Wuulhu.


Beth Frey, still from Sentient Muppet Factory (2022-23). Digital image generated with DALL-E. Courtesy of the artist.